I thought you’d like these pictures of Helena, a little forgotten mining town located just off Highway 299 on the Trinity River, just past Weaverville and Junction City.
The plaque posted on the old post office reads that the town was founded in the 1850s and the post office was built in 1858. That’s 150 years ago!
The town was named for Christian Meckel’s wife, Helena.
We stopped there on our way back from a quick weekend trip to the coast. There are old pear and apple trees lining the road, full of delicious ripe fruit, and blackberries, too.
The old buildings are in a sad state of decay, but are amazingly intact.
I read somewhere that the land is privately owned by a family out of the Bay Area. I used to stop here in the mid/late 1990s on my way back and forth from Arcata to Redding during my college days. Back then the buildings were neatly secured, with boarded doors and windows. Today, the boards have been ripped off and people have been going into the buildings. You can imagine that the structures are pretty dangerous – after all, they’re more than 100 years old.
My heart sank when I peeked into the old post office building, it’s so intact, with a beautiful tongue-and-groove ceiling. The place reminds me of Old Shasta, which makes me think of Judge Eaton. I believe that he was instrumental in preserving what was left of Shasta back in the 1950s.
I wish I knew how to save Helena. It breaks my heart to see it decomposing. I think it’s because I imagine the founders of that little town building those buildings, raising their families — and leaving behind a little memory of our pioneer history.
Well, enjoy the pictures, and if you get a chance to stop by – you should. It’s a great place to grab a pear and a hand full of blackberries, and stroll through the past.
Photos taken by Brandon Rogers of Redding.
Slideshow by Joe Domke