The Historical Sacramento River Rail Trail

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Once upon a time, there was copper mining in the Shasta Dam area north of Redding.  In the early 1900s, trains provided services to the copper mining town of Coram and others.  Well before Shasta Dam existed, the train tracks followed the west side of the Sacramento River.  The track at that time passed through the river canyon where the dam spillway and visitor elevator tower are now located.  A paved trail has since replaced the old tracks and is called the Sacramento River Rail Trail, and is part of the Sacramento River Trail system.

Drive across Shasta Dam and go down the hillside.  Beyond the campground is parking on your left.  Your adventure starts there at the Shasta Dam Trailhead going south.

Walking down the rail-trail as an adult could have you feeling like a kid again.  Engage your imagination.  In the freedom of nature, you might feel the wooden beams of the old tracks beneath you.  Imagine walking along with your dog, and in the distance you can hear a train approaching.  You might even feel the train tracks vibrate under your feet.

About a mile and a half into the trail, you’ll come to an old train tunnel that passes through a curved section of the mountainside.  The tunnel is really cool.  I mean, the tunnel really is, actually, nice and cool.  Acoustics in the darkened tunnel are loud and all encompassing.  I like to yell, “I love you, Bodie.”  And my dog Bodie seems to respond with pleasure.  Chamise Peak can be seen in my photo from the tunnel entrance.  And I added an older Halloween photo of my dog Toby at the tunnel.

River access from the trail is difficult as the train tracks were high above the river to avoid flooding.  However, less than a mile from the trailhead, is a rocky, dirt trail to the left of a white sign.  It’s steep, so be careful.

The white sign is just before a line of Ponderosa pines.  There, to the right of the trail, you’ll see another dirt trail.  Go down that rocky, narrow trail, carefully, and an oasis of beauty opens up along Cottonwood Creek.

Your time of leisure on the trail will take you through tranquil scenery that once upon a time was bustling with mining, smelter activity and a whistling train bringing supplies to the hard-working, rough-and-tumble people of Coram, and other mining towns.

The Coram smelter, among others, destroyed all vegetation for miles around.  You wouldn’t know it today.  It’s absolutely gorgeous along the river, which is now a vacation spot.  My how times change.

Don’t forget your camera.

Steve DuBois
For many years Steve DuBois has enjoyed taking photos of his dogs in interesting and unusual places. He created a photo book of his dogs especially for the children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where he donated several copies. He loves that the kids enjoy seeing his dogs photographed in unusual ways. Steve says his dogs have been his photographic inspiration and motivation, but sometimes he tries his hand at nature shots, such as the photos he captured of the north state’s 2017 flooding, published here on A News Steve DuBois lives in Redding.
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14 Responses

  1. Avatar Russell Hunt says:

    The tunnel was a fabulous place for keggers. Blast the music at one end and dance in the dark . Ooops. I need to shut up.

    • Steve DuBois Steve DuBois says:

      Oh, if only the tunnel could talk. Evidently, the tunnel’s had several uses. I’ll bet music sounds incredible in there.

  2. Jim Dowling Jim Dowling says:

    I’m really hoping that’s not a large bat hanging from the ceiling.

    • Steve DuBois Steve DuBois says:

      I was hoping you wouldn’t notice, Jim. Heh, heh. I’ve seen bats in there, but not that big. I had to double check the photo. It looked good until I put it into an editing program. The photo opened upside down. I’m not sure what happened? Technology, I’m telling ya.

  3. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    Yeah, Jim . . . . that was my first thought too. . . until I realized the tunnel entrance was upside down, too.

  4. Avatar Jim Brown says:

    When I was on the Shasta High School cross country team (’72-’73, ’73-’74, ’74-’75), one of our workouts involved a 7+ mile loop up the river trail to the spot we called Dogpatch (lots of loose dogs) at the east end of Middle Creek Road, then up the old rail bed to Keswick Dam and back down the river along Keswick Dam Road and Quartz Hill Road.

  5. Avatar Candace C says:

    Beautiful photos!

  6. Steve DuBois Steve DuBois says:

    I hope everyone viewing this post enjoys the photos. I take joy in sharing my journeys with you. But there’s one odd looking photo that must have you doing a double take. It’s too bad a good photo of my dog Bodie in the tunnel got turned around. Somehow, and I can’t explain it, my editing program has turned the photo upside down. I need to resize the photos for submission, but I don’t recall Bodie looking upside down before submission. He looks normal in my photo folders. So I checked it out in the editing program, and Bodie was flipped on his head. I scratched my head, and flipped him right side up. But when I saved it to my photo folder, Bodie was then upside down. ??? If anyone knows how this happens, please … I’d appreciate it … don’t leave me feeling … upside down.

  7. Steve Steve says:

    Oh, thank you, Doni, for letting me know. I just noticed Bodie right side up and thought I was losing my mind.