Tuesday, October 13, 2015

First Prospectors to Settle at Happy Camp, CA

The spring of 1851, a group of about thirty adventurous prospectors made their way up the Klamath River. They had worked on the Trinity the previous years and at Gold Bluffs so they had experience on this frontier. They planned for the winter and got proper provisions. However, their survival was threatened when a bunch of others, with less foresight and provision and less patience, rushed to the field and the sheer numbers outweighed the supplies left. But they did survive this "starvation time" on the Salmon river. When spring really came they headed up the Klamath

The heavily wooded banks of the Klamath River canyon made the way difficult and they came slowly since they were working the gravel bars, looking for "color" as they came. The party included Captain Chales M. Dermit, the Swain brothers, Captain Gwin Tompkins, Charles D. Moore, Thomas J. Roach, L. H. Murch, J. H Stichfield, Jeremiah Morgan, Mr. Cochrane, William Bagley, Daniel McDougall, Jack McDougall, William McMahoone, Robert Williams, Charles Wilson, John Cox, Charles Southard, George Wood, W. T. Stevens, James Buck, J. W. Burke, Jerry Lane, W. A. J. Mnoote, William Rumley, Barney Ray, Mr. Penny and others. 25 According to Vera Toleman these were the founders of the town of Happy Camp, The first settlement of what was to become Del Norte County 26

The town was built on both sides of Indian Creek, near it's junction with the Klamath River. Happy Camp's population fluctuated greatly in the early days, depending upon how the gold was coming in and the rumors from other places. Happy Camp became the miner's base of supplies. They had a cabin for storehouse and cabins to return to Saturday, while the rest of the week they were out looking for gold. Many more miners increased the original party at Happy Camp.

 Newspapers on the Pacific Coast referred to the town as Happy Camp in 1851, mentioning that previously the area had been called "Murder's Bar." Evidently the gold prospectors were so happy that they hadn't been murdered and the gold potential looked so good, so they named it Happy Camp.

It was in July of 1851 that the settlement of Happy Camp was named. Happy Camp it has been for nearly 165 years, as it has endured.

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