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This website is going to be retired shut down in This article is one of the most popular on this website. Please leave a comment below if you would be interested in hosting a Facebook group. Thank you! AllthingsShasta, Paul. The tiny town of Callahan, population 50, is located about 30 miles west of Mt. Shasta, CA. Normally, such a small town would not gather much interest, but if you ever happen to be passing through on Hwy 3, Callahan is worth checking out.
Callahan is a ghost town in the making: in the town center, many of the buildings are boarded up or falling apart. The gold-rush era brick Wells Fargo bank building sits empty with steel plates covering the window openings. But if you peek in the window, the inside looks exactly like the shopkeeper left it on the day they decided not to open.
The inventory is gone, but the cash register and all the other shelving fixtures are still intact. A notepad with some handwritten notes sits on the counter…one of many s of a hasty departure. The stately Callahan Ranch Hotel picture abovebuilt insits vacant as it has for decades. If you get close enough, you can see box springs in some of the rooms, the mattresses have long rotted away.
All these things remain as silent witnesses to a time long gone. Callahan was once a booming town at the southern end of Scott Valley, founded around by a merchant by the name of Mathias Bernard Callahan. Legend says that while crossing the river, his pregnant wife fell off her horse and was rescued by an Indian, but went into premature labor and gave birth to a son.
The Callahans stayed in the area, and bought a lodge nearby to provide food and lodging for travelers on the stage line between Oregon and California. A gold rush in the area followed, leading to many people moving to the area.
The nearby towns of Etna and Fort Jones were founded. After the gold rush died out, many stayed in the area and a ranching boom took off. The town remained a vibrant community for many decades until the main north-south routes of travel moved to the east on Highway 99, and later Interstate 5. Despite the building closures and setbacks, Callahan is not dead yet: the town bar is still open, and an adjacent store called the Emporium is still open. A small across the street advertises a local lawyer. I stood in the middle of Hwy 3 taking pictures in the bright sunshine.
Whether it is a highway or road, I had no worry about being hit by traffic. During the twenty minutes I was there, only a single car drove by. Gasping from the heat, I looked around for a convenience store.
I saw that one of the buildings called the Callahan Emporium had s of life, and went in to buy a cold bottled water. The place was stuffy and hot from the August heat, and a floor fan buzzed nosily near the door. Muted voices could be heard from the side, and I realized that the bar next door was connected directly to the store by a walkway. Walking back outside, I saw a community message board covered with notes and things for sale.
Looking across the street to the Callahan Ranch Hotel, I wondered what kept the last remnants of this town alive. This is what ghost towns must be like in their final days before they become actual ghost towns. Who makes the decision to be the last to turn off the lights for good? By the way; the Callahan Emporium has a of positive reviews on Yelp. This is a very interesting thread with many an interesting perspective — from those that have real connection to Callahan to those that are just passing through.
I have real connection, I am a granddaughter of Ernest A. Hayden and his wife Dorothy. I have many relatives who still live in town and the surrounding area. Callahan is one of my favorite places in the world. I spent many a summer playing and swimming the the nearby rivers and lakes and have happy memories of holidays spent with my family at the houses on top of the hill across from the church, both of which are still in the family. The big 2 story one reffered to in an above post is owned by my mother and haveing spent many nights there I agree with Dennis Sidebottom who posted above that he had lived there for a while, my parents did rent it out for some years to several different people that is is haunted — but not in a bad way.
The spirits that reside there are benevolent. My husband and I were married in the church acrooss the street in as a tribute to my parents who were married in the very same church over 30 years Earlier. We had our reception in the upstairs of the grange hall which looked beatiful when the stone walls were adorned with thousands of sparking lights. A local band played and a grand time was had by all. Since then we have been back nearly every summer to enjoy the beauty of the area and spend time with family. If you blink while on that stretch of the highway you will miss it but for those that keep their eyes open — enjoy!
A very interesting haunting story. Enjoyed the story very much. Hi i collect old beer cans and old beer s. I wonder if there are any old cans or old s in those great old buildings in Callahan? I am sure there has to be something in that old tiwn. I pay good money for this kind of stuff.
I enjoyed coming upon this story! I am the great-great-granddaughter of Mathias B Callahan. We have family documents written about the ill-fated river crossing and Catherine Callahan giving birth on the side of the river. Although that child was born early, he grew up to be a strong man who traveled the world and made the family fortune. I have never lived in the Callahan area but it is a special place in our family history.
I hope to spend some time up there in the future. Thank you for this article. My name is Pat Davison and I remember Callahan from many years ago! In my father brought us through there on a vacation to Disneyland. I remember the old gold dredge that was still there in the river. It seems that dad was in the C. After leaving Callahan we drove on a dirt road over to Weaverville and were met on that road by a teamster driving a mule team that was pulling 2 loaded freight wagons! I was 9 years old at that time and I just knew that we were out in the real wild west.
We were from up north in Portland. Had a Summer place in Trinity Center and also developed property there. I took my lunch and went outside to eat it at one of the Picnic Tables provided. I always ate outside so I could watch Mr Elephant. Eventually Mr Elephant was goneand when I sometimes travel through that area I look across that field and still see him.
The hotel is completely rebuilt and they kept and used almost all of the existing wood from the building. My Great Grandparents lived and died in Callahan. They are buried in the cemetery there along.
In fact, I have several other ancestors buried there. I visited there in when the Farringtons store was still in business. In doing family research, my drifter grand father, Elmer Charles Anderson, was listed in the GA census where it asked where were you in before Georgia. He list this town and county and California.
His job in Hall county GA was gold miner. Was mining still going on in this town in northern CA? Any input would be nice. I will visit this place some day. Enjoyed the article. Not related. My son was driving by Callahan last year and sent pictures to me. Such fun! I would like some information about the Callahan Jubilee. I have mentioned it in my upcoming book, Dark Canyon Diary, but I have lost the research that stated what years the jubilee was held.
Can anyone help me? I was moved to Callahan as in At nine years old There was nothing there or so thought… the quiet of the valley is what brings peace to the souls here! Its truly heaven on Earth. The people are kind, chatty and peaceful. Callahan currently has the Emporium and bar open still. There post office is open as well and everything is still done the old way. Even the abandoned buildings and houses make you happy because you can just Invision the life with all the memorabilia and history you come across!!
I am honored to say i am raising my children in the same home on the same ranch just three miles outside of callahan that i was raised on. We ride our horses to the emporium in the spring and there is still the horse ties. My grandmother played the piano at the church and taught Sunday School. We would visit in summer and swim in the east fork of the Scott River.
I miss it. If anyone can get a msg to Punky Hayden in Callahan to contact or me would be greatly appreciated! I worked with him logging. post: A visit to Upper Gumboot Lake. Come Back to Callahan July 7th, My memory of the first time I went through Etna will remain with me the rest of my life. Also my birthday is July 7. What did I miss? Callahan is not dead my any means.
This town has lots of life.Married but looking in Callahan CA
email: [email protected] - phone:(239) 846-3688 x 9027
The mysterious town of Callahan, CA