The Feather River Canyon abounds with history and natural beauty.
The Mountain Maidu Indians originally inhabited the area, living in small groups and foraging their living off the abundant foliage, animals and fish.
In the spring of 1850 the area was taken over by gold-seeking miners, hoping to strike it rich and find the fabled "gold" lake. The river and its many forks were the main sites of mining activity. "Dame Shirley" wrote of her experiences while living at Rich Bar, an area still being mined today. For the next five decades, gold mining was the main industry of the area. (Check out the book, The Shirley Letters, from the California Mines 1851-1852 - very interesting!)
It was also about that time James P. Beckwourth discovered the lowest pass through the Sierra Nevada and, in 1851, navigated a wagon trail for California-bound immigrants from Western Nevada, through Plumas County, to the Sacramento Valley. In several areas you can still see where the original trail was carved into the mountain. Learn more - www.plumasmuseum.org.
After the turn of the century, the 'iron horse' began weaving it's way through the canyon. The railways throughout the canyon are an engineering marvel. Winding along the river, the railway reaches from one side of the canyon to the other on functional yet beautiful bridges, and tunnels are blasted through granite. While the railroad was used for passenger transportation, it also opened the way for the timber industry to transport it's product - lumber could now be shipped nationwide and the timber industry emerged as a primary economic force. The last passenger train ran in 1970 and the line is now strictly devoted to freight traffic. Learn more - go to www.wplives.org.
Highway 70, between Oroville and Quincy, is one of the most popular scenic driving routes in the state. Known as the Feather River National Scenic Byway, it is the lowest east-wast passageway through the Sierra Nevada. Like the railroad, Highway 70 follows along the river, usually on the opposite side of the rails. Dotted along the river are seven hydroelectric power plants run by PG&E. These power plants are also called the "Stairway of Power" and are remarkable in their size and volume of power produced.
It's s'more fun here!