Dunsmuir Area Information Print


The historic railroad town of Dunsmuir is located off Interstate 5, just 12 miles south of Mount Shasta City and about 45 miles north of Redding, Ca.   Tiny, rugged and gorgeous, the Mountain Town of Dunsmuir offers a variety of eateries, antique and thrift stores and numerous nature areas to be enjoyed by all.


Dunsmuir was established in 1880 when a rail line was built through the upper Sacramento River Canyon.  Early surveys determined that the Upper Sacramento River Canyon was the most viable route for a railroad linking California with Oregon.  By the mid 1880s the railroad had entered Siskiyou County and in August of 1886, the Central Pacific Railroad arrived.  Their camp, about one mile south of today’s historic commercial district was originally named Pusher because extra engines were needed to push the trains up through the canyon.   In 1886 the name was changed from Pusher to Dunsmuir when a British Columbian coal baron, named Alexander Dunsmuir fell in love with the town and promised provide a water fountain in the town if they named it after his family.  The water fountain was installed and is now located at the city park.

A huge roundhouse, a station, and rail yards were soon built and the town’s population quickly increased.  The town of Dunsmuir was incorporated in 1909.  In the early 1950’s, Dunsmuir was the most prosperous town in all of Siskiyou County due to the active railroad industry.   After that time, large cut backs in the railroad’s workforce took place as a result of the use of diesel trains.  The population of Dunsmuir, which was once appx. 5,000 people has dropped to less than 2,000 today. 

Dunsmuir has survived many disasters.  These include a crushing avalanche which came through the town in 1902.  In 1903 most of the town burned to the ground.  In 1921 Dunsmuir experienced the big Travelers Hotel Fire.  A large fire on Sacramento Street in 1924 burnt two churches and everything else in its way.  The Weed or “Upside Down” hotel burnt in 1944.  In the flood of 1974 people were evacuated from their homes due to the damage and dangers that the flood presented and in 1991 the Cantara railroad spill dumped 19,000 gallons of herbicide, (Metam Sodium), into the river killing fish, plants and animal life for 45 miles downstream. Today the river has completely recovered.   


Despite the many disasters Dunsmuir has remained a charming, quaint community with many beautiful attractions.

The Sacramento River flows through Dunsmuir with many small bridges and shores. Many rock retaining walls can be found throughout the city.  Class II white water rapids can be experienced along the stretches of the Upper Sacramento River. With it’s abundance of native and rainbow trout, the stretch of the Sacramento River near Dunsmuir is known for some of the best rainbow trout fishing anywhere in America.  There is approximately a 40 mile stretch of the Upper Sacramento River (between Lake Siskiyou and Shasta Lake) that is considered world class fishing.  The river also offers an abundance of swimming holes with refreshing pools of crystal clear water. The surrounding mountains provide hunters with excellent hunting adventures. 

Swimming Holes on the Upper Sacramento River:
 * Cantara Loop Hole
 * Dunsmuir City Park Hole * The Wall * Dog Creek
 * Soda Creek * Conant Hole * Sims Hole 
 * Gibson Hole * LaMoine Hole       
 * Volmers/Delta 

Mossbrae Falls  is a “must see” for visitors and is located along the Sacramento River, north of Dunsmuir. At Mossbrae Falls you will find a beautiful waterfall cascading over the hillside of brilliant green plants into the pristine Sacramento River.

Upper Soda Springs is located on the Sacramento River near Dunsmuir and consists of approximately 10 acres.  The spring contains a riparian ecosystem and includes name sake mineral water springs.

Hedge Creek Falls is located off the north Dunsmuir exit off Interstate 5.  The five minute walk to the falls provides a peaceful and serene setting with the refreshing sounds of the Sacramento River along with the musical sounds of nature heard in the background.  A winding path filled with beautiful foliage takes you to Hedge Creek Falls.   Once there, you can just sit and enjoy the scenery, walk behind the falls or play in the cool, clear water.

Castle Crags / Castle Crags State Park received its name from the towering crags and spires known as Castle Crags.  Spectacular views of the Crags are can be seen to the west of Interstate 5 between the towns of Castella and Dunsmuir.  Elevations range from 2000 feet along the Sacramento River to over 6500 feet at the summit of the highest crags. The Castle Crags area has been heavily glaciated.  As a result several lakes can be found in the western section of the Castle Crags Wilderness.  Among them are Gray Rock Lake, Timber Lake, and Little Castle Lake.   Castle Crags State Park is located just six miles south of Dunsmuir with the stunning Crags as its backdrop, along with approximately 2 miles of the quick running Upper Sacramento River and the lovely Castle Creek.  There are numerous miles of improved trails available to hikers including several miles of the famous Pacific Crest trail.

Celebrities in Dunsmuir

Many famous celebrities have been known to visit the charming railroad town of Dunsmuir. These include President John F. Kennedy, Clark Gable, and Claudette Colbert.  Babe Ruth is also on this list of celebrities visiting Dunsmuir.  In October 22, 1924 the Babe played in an exhibition game in Dunsmuir as a part of his nation wide tour.  Babe sent the following letter after visiting Dunsmuir:

To everybody (and that means everybody) in Dunsmuir, Ca.

We don’t know yet how to tell you what a wonderful time we had in Dunsmuir . . . . When it comes to beautiful girls, wonderfully fine fellows, and the real two-fisted spirit of California-little Dunsmuir gave us more laughs, more hospitality, more thrills and more things to remember than any place between Broadway and Shasta.”

 **quote from – Quote courtesy of Reva Coon. Excerpted from the Dunsmuir Centennial Book.**

Seasonal Events in Dunsmuir

•    Fishing Spring Opener
•    British Car Gathering and Town Wide Yard Sale
•    Garden Club Flower Show
•    The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra’s “ Tribute to the Trees”
•    Farmer’s Market  ( July – Oct.)
•    Railroad Days
•    Upper Sacramento Clean Up and Barbeque
•    Holiday Craft Fair
•    Candles in the Canyon Christmas Celebration

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