Happy Camp is a very small community located on the Klamath River deep in the forested regions of Siskiyou County. It is the tribal home of the Kurok People who lived in the area long before the first Anglo-Europeans arrived in the nineteenth century. As is the case with most of Siskiyou County, we do not know when the first outsiders entered this region, but it very well could have been itinerant fur trappers in the early years of the nineteenth century. The first recorded semi-permanent settlers were the gold miners of the 1850s. A group of them set up camp there in 1851. Gold was plentiful and they named their small community Happy Camp. (The place had earlier been known as Murderer's Bar.)
Henry Doolittle, John Titus and the Camp brothers - James and Heil, were among the earliest land owners. The Camp brothers built the Camp Mercantile Store and Doolittle opened a hotel and served as the Justice of the Peace until 1870. After the placer gold petered out, the miners turned to hydraulic mining and logging. Today, gold is still a source of revenue for some, but Happy Camp is primarily known as a regional center for outdoor activities. Rafting and kayaking the Klamath is very popular as is camping, hunting, fishing and hiking. There are many trailheads near town that lead into the Marble Mountain, Red Buttes, and Siskiyou Wilderness Areas.
The original home of Big Foot is claimed to be near Happy Camp at Thompson Creek, where, long ago, Chinese miners reported seeing a huge ape-like creature running through the forest. One of the very best Big Foot statues in the region is located here and folks still look for him from time to time.
There are a number of rugged individualists living in this part of the country. In the period just before the Second World War, many local citizens in this area were dissatisfied with the support that they received from the State of California. They became part of the State of Jefferson political movement which advocated the creation of a new state. There are also a few people who want to succeed from the United States entirely and create a separate country - the Cascadia Movement.
There are several interesting drives that go through Happy Camp. Grayback Road from O'Brien, Oregon, south to Happy Camp is a little traveled part of the State of Jefferson Scenic Byway. It is a beautiful route through some very remote country, but it is not kept open in the winter, so check road and weather conditions before you explore it. The more famous part of the State of Jefferson Scenic Byway runs from Yreka, to Happy Camp (State Highway 96). The road from Happy Camp southwest to Willow Creek and on to Eureka is known as the Big Foot Scenic Byway. All of these roads are worthy of exploration.
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