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Siskiyou County, California facts for kids

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Siskiyou County, California
County of Siskiyou
Shasta from south.jpg
West Miner Street in Yreka, CA.JPG
Indian Tom Lake, California.jpeg
Images, from top down, left to right: Mount Shasta, the historic West Miner Street in Yreka, Indian Tom Lake
Flag of Siskiyou County, California
Official seal of Siskiyou County, California
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
Country United States
State California
Region Shasta Cascade
Incorporated 1852
Named for The Siskiyou Trail
County seat Yreka
Largest city Yreka
 • Total 6,347 sq mi (16,440 km2)
 • Land 6,278 sq mi (16,260 km2)
 • Water 69 sq mi (180 km2)
Highest elevation
14,162 ft (4,317 m)
 • Total 44,076
 • Density 6.9444/sq mi (2.68124/km2)
Time zone UTC−8 (Pacific Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Area code 530
FIPS code 06-093
GNIS feature ID 277311

Siskiyou County ( SIS-kew) is a county in the northernmost part of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 44,076. Its county seat is Yreka and its highest point is Mount Shasta. It falls within the Cascadia bioregion.

Siskiyou County is in the Shasta Cascade region along with the Oregon border. Because of its outdoor recreation, Mt. Shasta, McCloud River, and Gold Rush era history, it is an important tourist destination within the state.


Siskiyou County was created on March 22, 1852, from parts of Shasta and Klamath Counties, and named after the Siskiyou mountain range. Parts of the county's territory were given to Modoc County in 1855.

The county is the site of the central section of the Siskiyou Trail, which ran between California's Central Valley and the Pacific Northwest. The Siskiyou Trail followed Native American footpaths, and was extended by Hudson's Bay Company trappers in the 1830s. Its length was increased by "Forty-Niners" during the California Gold Rush.

After the discovery of an important gold strike near today’s Yreka, California in 1851, prospectors flooded the area. This was described in detail by Joaquin Miller in his semi-autobiographical novel Life Amongst the Modocs.

In the mid 1880s, the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad along the Siskiyou Trail brought the a first wave of tourism. Visitors were drawn by the county’s many summer resorts, and to hunt or fish in the largely untouched region. The Southern Pacific railroad, the successor to the Central Pacific, called its rail line the “The Road of A Thousand Wonders.”

In the early 1940s, Siskiyou County was home to the semi-serious State of Jefferson movement, which sought to create a new state from several counties of northern California and the adjoining counties of southern Oregon. The movement has seen a revival in recent years.

The origin of the word Siskiyou is not known. It may be Chinook word for a "bob-tailed horse," or as was argued before the State Senate in 1852, from the French Six Cailloux (six stones), a name given to a ford on the Umpqua River by Michel LaFrambois and his Hudson's Bay Company trappers in 1832. Others claim the Six Cailloux name was appropriated by Stephen Meek, another Hudson's Bay Company trapper who discovered Scott Valley, for a crossing on the Klamath River near Hornbrook.

The County is home to the Black Bear Ranch, a commune started in 1968 with the slogan "Free Land for free people."

On September 4, 2013, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to secede from the State of California.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 6,347 square miles (16,440 km2), of which 6,278 square miles (16,260 km2) is land and 69 square miles (180 km2) (1.1%) is water. It is the fifth-largest county by area in California.

Siskiyou County is geographically diverse. From towering Mount Shasta (elev. 14,179 ft/(4,322 m)) near the center of the county, to lakes and dense forests, as well as desert, chaparral, and memorable waterfalls, the county is home to world-famous trout-fishing rivers and streams, such as the Sacramento and McCloud Rivers. The county is dotted as well with lakes and reservoirs, such as Castle Lake and Lake Siskiyou. Mount Shasta itself has a winter sports center. Pastoral Scott Valley in the western part of the county has many wide, tree-lined meadows, supporting large cattle ranches. The basins of northeastern Siskiyou County, including Butte Valley, Lower Klamath and Tule Lake basins, have some of the deepest and richest soils in the state, producing alfalfa, potatoes, horseradish, and brewing barley. Butte Valley nurseries are the leading source of premium strawberry plants in North America. Much of the county is densely forested with pine, fir, incense-cedar, oak, and madrone; Siskiyou County is also home to the rare Baker's Cypress Tree, Cupressus bakeri, which grows in only eleven scattered locations in the world, five of which are in Siskiyou County. The county's natural resources are most often used these days for skiing, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, camping, and wilderness recreation, as historic logging practices have been largely discontinued due to Federal and State environmental regulations. The county’s water is viewed as sufficiently pure and abundant that the county is a source of significant amounts of bottled water, distributed throughout the country. A large Crystal Geyser plant is at the base of Mt. Shasta, near Weed.

Flora and fauna

Substantial amounts of the county are forested within the Siskiyou and Cascade Ranges, including significant oak woodland and mixed conifer forests. Siskiyou County is the northern extent of the range for California Buckeye, a widespread California endemic. The Klamath National Forest occupies 1,700,000 acres (6,900 km2) of land which includes elements in Siskiyou County as well as Jackson County, Oregon.

National protected areas

Cristobalite on obsidian, found near Lava Beds National Monument.


SP 4449 and 3208 at Bray April 26 1981xrp - Flickr - drewj1946
Southern Pacific 4449 at Bray, en route to Railfair 1981.

Major highways

  • I-5 (CA).svg Interstate 5
  • US 97 (1961 cutout).svg U.S. Route 97
  • California 3.svg State Route 3
  • California 89.svg State Route 89
  • California 96.svg State Route 96
  • California 139.svg State Route 139
  • California 161.svg State Route 161
  • California 263.svg State Route 263
  • California 265.svg State Route 265

Public transportation

Siskiyou Transit And General Express (STAGE) operates buses connecting the more populated areas of the county. Amtrak trains stop in Dunsmuir. Amtrak California motorcoaches operate from Sacramento and Medford, OR, with stops in Yreka, Weed, Mount Shasta, and Dunsmuir, for passengers connecting to and from Amtrak trains in Sacramento or Stockton.


Siskiyou County owns and operates Butte Valley Airport, Happy Camp Airport, Scott Valley Airport, Siskiyou County Airport and Weed Airport (all general aviation). Dunsmuir Municipal-Mott Airport and Montague-Yreka Rohrer Field are also within the county.

The closest airports for commercial domestic plane departures are Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport north of the county in Medford, Oregon, Crater Lake–Klamath Regional Airport, northeast of the county in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and Redding Municipal Airport south of the county in Redding, California.



Places by population, race, and income


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 7,629
1870 6,848 −10.2%
1880 8,610 25.7%
1890 12,163 41.3%
1900 16,962 39.5%
1910 18,801 10.8%
1920 18,545 −1.4%
1930 25,480 37.4%
1940 28,598 12.2%
1950 30,733 7.5%
1960 32,885 7.0%
1970 33,225 1.0%
1980 39,732 19.6%
1990 43,531 9.6%
2000 44,301 1.8%
2010 44,900 1.4%
2020 44,076 −1.8%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2015

The 2010 United States Census reported Siskiyou County had a population of 44,900. The racial makeup of Siskiyou County was 38,030 (84.7%) White, 571 (1.3%) African American, 1,814 (4.0%) Native American, 540 (1.2%) Asian, 80 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 1,491 (3.3%) from other races, and 2,374 (5.3%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4,615 persons (10.3%).


As of the census of 2000, there were 44,301 people, 18,556 households, and 12,228 families residing in the county. The population density was 7/sq mi (3/km2). There were 21,947 housing units at an average density of 4/sq mi (1/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 87.1% White, 1.3% Black or African American, 3.9% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.8% from other races, and 3.7% from two or more races. 7.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 13.5% were of German, 12.0% English, 9.8% Irish, 9.5% American and 7.1% Italian ancestry according to Census 2000. 91.7% spoke English and 5.7% Spanish as their first language. As of March 2012, the largest self-reported ancestry groups in Siskiyou County are 15% German, 13% English, 12% Irish and 6% Italian.

There were 18,556 households, out of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.7% were married couples living together, 10.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.1% were non-families. 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 24.0% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 22.7% from 25 to 44, 28.4% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 96.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.1 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $29,530, and the median income for a family was $36,890. Males had a median income of $31,936 versus $22,650 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,570. About 14.0% of families and 18.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.6% of those under age 18 and 7.3% of those age 65 or over.


Siskiyou County map


Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

Ghost towns

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Siskiyou County.

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 Yreka City 7,765
2 Mount Shasta City 3,394
3 Weed City 2,967
4 Dunsmuir City 1,650
5 Montague City 1,443
6 Happy Camp CDP 1,190
7 McCloud CDP 1,101
8 Tulelake City 1,010
9 Dorris City 939
10 Fort Jones City 839
11 Etna City 737
12 Karuk Reservation AIAN 506
13 Grenada CDP 367
14 Hornbrook CDP 248
15 Greenview CDP 201
16 Quartz Valley Reservation AIAN 187
17 Macdoel CDP 133
18 Carrick CDP 131
19 Mount Hebron CDP 95
20 Gazelle CDP 70
21 Edgewood CDP 43
22 Tennant CDP 41
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