Siskiyou County is a county located in the far northernmost part of the U.S. state of California, in the Shasta Cascade region on the Oregon border. The County seat is Yreka. Because of its substantial natural beauty, outdoor recreation opportunities, and Gold Rush era history, it is an important tourist destination within the state.
Siskiyou County was created on March 22, 1852 from parts of Shasta and Klamath Counties, and named after the Siskiyou mountain range. Parts of the county's territory were given to Modoc County in 1855.
The county is the site of the central section of the Siskiyou Trail, which ran between California's Central Valley and the Pacific Northwest. The Siskiyou Trail was based on Native American footpaths, was expanded by Hudson's Bay Company trappers in the 1830s, and was expanded still further by "Forty-Niners" during the California Gold Rush.
In 1851, after the discovery of an important gold strike near today’s Yreka, California, thousands of prospectors flooded the area. This era and setting was described in detail in the semi-autobiographical novel, Life Amongst the Modocs, written by poet and novelist Joaquin Miller.
The construction of the Central Pacific railroad along the path of the Siskiyou Trail in the mid-1880s led to a first wave of tourism, as visitors came to “take the waters” at the county’s many summer resorts, and to enjoy the hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation activities. The Southern Pacific railroad (successor to the Central Pacific) promoted the scenic beauty of the area by calling its rail line through the area “The Road of A Thousand Wonders.”
In the early 1940s, Siskiyou County was home to the semi-serious State of Jefferson movement, which sought to create a new state from several counties of northern California, and several counties of southern Oregon.
The origin of the word siskiyou is not known. One version is that it is the Chinook Jargon word for "bob-tailed horse." Another version, given in an argument before the State Senate in 1852, is that the French name Six Cailloux, meaning "six stones," was given to a ford on the Umpqua River by Michel LaFrambois and a party of Hudson's Bay Company trappers in 1832, because six large stones or rocks lay in the river where they crossed. According to some, the Six Cailloux name was appropriated to this region by Stephen Meek, another Hudson's Bay Company trapper who was known for his "discovery" of Scott Valley, in regard to a crossing on the Klamath River near Hornbrook.
Siskiyou County is geographically widely diverse. From towering Mount Shasta (elev. 14,179 ft/4,322 m)) near the center of the county, to lakes and dense forests, as well as desert, chaparral, and memorable waterfalls, the county is home to world-famous trout-fishing rivers and streams, such as the Sacramento and McCloud Rivers. The county is dotted as well with lakes and reservoirs, such as Castle Lake and Lake Siskiyou. Mount Shasta itself has a winter sports center. Pastoral Scott Valley in the western part of the county has many wide, tree-lined meadows, supporting large cattle ranches. Much of the county is densely forested with pine, fir, incense-cedar,oak, and madrone; these natural resources are most often used these days for skiing, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, camping, and wilderness recreation, as historic logging practices have been largely discontinued due to Federal and State environmental regulations. The county’s water is viewed as sufficiently pure and abundant that the county is a source of significant amounts of bottled water, distributed throughout the country. A large Crystal Geyser plant is located at the base of Mt. Shasta near Weed, CA.
While it ranks fifth in area among California counties, with some 6,347 square miles (16,440 km²), it only ranked 44th in population among California’s 58 counties; as of 2000, the population was 44,301. The county seat is Yreka.
The closest airports where commercial domestic planes depart from is Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport north of the county in Medford, Oregon and Redding Municipal Airport south of the county in Redding, California.
There were 18,556 households out of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.7% were married couples living together, 10.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.1% were non-families. 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.87.
In the county the population was spread out with 24.0% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 22.7% from 25 to 44, 28.4% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 96.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.1 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $29,530, and the median income for a family was $36,890. Males had a median income of $31,936 versus $22,650 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,570. About 14.0% of families and 18.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.6% of those under age 18 and 7.3% of those age 65 or over.
|2004||60.6% 12,673||37.7% 7,880||1.7% 346|
|2000||61.6% 12,198||31.9% 6,323||6.6% 1298|
|1996||47.3% 8,653||38.4% 7,022||14.3% 2618|
|1992||32.2% 6,660||39.9% 8,254||27.9% 5765|
|1988||50.9% 9,056||47.0% 8,365||2.1% 376|
|1984||58.3% 10,544||39.4% 7,130||2.4% 427|
|1980||55.8% 9,331||33.8% 5,664||10.4% 1743|
|1976||48.4% 7,070||48.3% 7,060||3.3% 485|
|1972||51.5% 7,563||43.8% 6,434||4.8% 699|
|1968||46.1% 6,334||45.6% 6,260||8.3% 1138|
|1964||36.2% 5,186||63.7% 9,126||0.2% 23|
|1960||43.0% 6,279||56.4% 8,245||0.7% 96|
Siskiyou is a strongly Republican county in Presidential and congressional elections. The last Democrat to win a majority in the county was Bill Clinton in 1992. Siskiyou is part of California's 2nd congressional district, which is held by Republican Wally Herger. In the state legislature Siskiyou is in the 2nd Assembly district, which is held by Republican Doug LaMalfa, and the 4th Senate district, which is held by Republican Sam Aanestad.