Scott River - A Tributary to the Klamath River - Scott Bar to Fort Jones - Summer
Native American members of the Shasta Tribe lived in Scott Valley for eons before the arrival of a group of Hudson Bay trappers hunting beaver out of Vancouver, Washington, in 1836. The Shasta name for the river that flowed through the valley was Ottitiewa. The Hudson Bay hunting party was led by Stephen Meek, Thomas McKay, and Adolphus Duzel. They found the valley to be full of beaver and Meek liked the area so much that he came back to retire there in 1871. Native Americans had long used Scott Valley trails to move southeast and northwest through the area. Early settlers improved the Indian trails and used them to travel back and forth between southern Oregon and Yreka, California. Scott Valley was an alternative to the more heavily used Siskiyou Trail further to the east.
John W. Scott discovered gold at Scott's Bar in 1850. At that time, the valley was known to the settlers as Beaver Valley and the river, Beaver River, because of the successful Hudson Bay hunt of 1836. After Scott discovered gold, several locations along the river as well as the river itself, some of the mountains, and the entire valley were named in his honor. The original gold seekers panned for loose placer gold in the river, but they were soon followed by hard rock miners and river dredges that dug into the surrounding mountains and down fifty to sixty feet below the river channel churning up the river bed in the process and leading to a great deal of environmental damage. People still hunt for gold there today. The valley is also a rich agricultural and timber area.
Fort Jones (originally Scottsburg, then successively Scottsville, Wheelock, Ottitiewa and finally Fort Jones) was historically the principal community in the valley. In 1860, it was renamed after the army post of the same name that had been established nearby in 1852. This post was established to help protect travel through the area. Normally it would have been located in the principal town, which would have put it in Yreka, but lack of feed for the horses forced the army to establish it in Scott Valley. A number of officers who would become famous in later years were assigned to Fort Jones. These included Philip Sheridan, Ulysses S. Grant, and George Crook among others. The military had abandoned the fort in 1858, but local sentiment appears to have grown tired of the Indian name of Ottitiwa for their community. It was renamed Fort Jones. Today, it is a very small agricultural village (the 2000 Census listed 600 residents).
Etna, originally Aetna Mills, is another small community located in Scott Valley (781 people listed in the 2000 census). In the past, it's economy depended heavily on logging, but in recent years, restrictions on timber harvesting has adversely impacted the local economy. Before Prohibition, Etna had boasted a locally famous brewery (Kappler's Etna Brewery) that had been established in 1876. In 1915, Kappler won a gold medal at the Pan Pacific International Exposition. Today, the Etna Brewing Company is attempting to continue the Kappler tradition and one of their beers won gold at the 2006 World Beer Cup. Their facilities are not fancy, but their beer is very good. They also have a pub, so you can try it at the source if you are passing through town.
Tourist activities in Scott Valley include camping, hiking, climbing, hunting, and river running on the federally designated Wild and Scenic Scott River. There are several campgrounds in the valley, but tourist support is limited.
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