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City arch in Weed, CA

History of Weed, California

  • Compliments of the Weed Historic Lumbertown Museum
Abner Weed

Abner Weed, founder of the town of Weed. He qualified as lumberman, railroad builder, postmaster and law maker. Photo courtesy of the Weed Historic Lumber Town Museum.

As early as 1891, logging operations were taking place in and around what is now the town of Weed, but it wasn't until 1897 that Weed began to show the first signs of what would later become a booming logging town.

The town inherited its unusual name from founder, Abner Weed, who saw a vast potential for the area's lush timber and abundant water supplies.

Because of its unique location at the base of Mount Shasta, Weed experiences almost a constant breeze that ascends over Black Butte Summit, in a northward thrust. At the mountain's high elevations, the air currents swirl around the volcano with a tremendous force, often causing a swirling patch of clouds to appear over the peak of Mount Shasta. Weed noticed this and saw that he could harness the wind to his lumber operation to help in the drying of the green lumber.

He purchased a 280-acre site in the path of the wind from the Siskiyou Lumber and Mercantile in 1897 and thus came the birth of Weed.

One of his first tasks was to build a railroad to the place where he planned to have his mill. The site is now occupied by the Weed Fire Department. He continued a railroad spur track, known as the Williams' Spur, into his mill site and thus began a new career for Abner Weed as a railroad builder.

In 1902, he purchased a circular mill in Truckee, California and moved it to his mill in Weed. That same year, the mills produced over 60,000 feet of lumber each day.

Historic Weed, CA

Will Tonkin and Lawrence Sullivan on wagon in front of the old Preston Farm House. The Preston Farm was purchased by George and Anna Sullivan in 1898. Photo courtesy of the Weed Historic Lumber Town Museum.

Abner's growing operation needed more workers, and as more people came to work, the town began to take shape. The first building built by Abner Weed was a warehouse for the mill operation. But the workmen had to have a place to eat and sleep so a large cookhouse was built near the mill, and next to it, a bunk house.

By late 1902 the town included the cookhouse and bunkhouse, a post office, two mills, a box factory and boarding house, a store and several homes.

Shortly after, the Weed Hospital was built. The first home built by Abner Weed still stands on Main Street. It was built for the W.O. Stone family, near Weed's horse barn, located where the Weed Museum now stands.

The houses, in general, had four rooms - two bedrooms, a kitchen, and what was called at that time, a parlor. They had pyramid roofs, shingled out walls and painted interiors.

By 1905, Weed was a busy growing community. Though it was called a company town and truly it was for a while, it was not destined to always be so. The payroll was big enough to entice other investors into the area and, by 1907, a new part of town emerged and became known as Shastina, after the Shastina peak on Mount Shasta.

Main Street, Weed, 1907

Main Street, Weed, California - 1907. Photo courtesy of the Weed Historic Lumber Town Museum.

In 1915, a devastating fire destroyed Lumber Yard 3, and for a time, threatened the very existence of the town. In 1917 fire was again destructive to Weed. It started in the bakery and soon spread to adjoining buildings. Almost the entire south side of Main Street was burned down before the flames were finally extinguished.

Weed Lumber company was taken over by the Long Bell Lumber Company around 1906, which operated the mill until 1956 when it was purchased by International Paper Company.

In 1959, Weed became incorporated as a city and by 1960, Long Bell had sold its remaining investments in the town, including the company homes that workers rented from the lumber company. Many of the workers purchased their homes from Long Bell for between $2,500 and $3,000.

In 1982, International Paper closed its doors and today the only mill still in operation in Weed is the Roseburg Mill, which runs three shifts, 24 hours a day and employs around 150 workers.