Timber! Shasta history, just off I-5 Essay

Hours of backbreaking work with ax and saw are about to pay off, asthe Shasta red fir starts to crack and list.

You hear the yell of”Timber!” before the tree heaves with a roar to the forestfloor. This scene, repeated countless times in Siskiyou County’slogging history, is recaptured in an excellent exhibit at MountShasta’s year-old Sisson Fish Hatchery Museum, just off Interstate5. You’ll see and hear trees crashing down in the 25-minutenarrated slide show on oldtime logging and the 1-hour video tape onmodern logging. The exhibit–taking up three of the one-storymuseum’s four rooms–also displays paintings, photographs, toolsyou can touch, and parts of trees to show you how timber is felled,bucked, skidded, loaded, hauled, and unloaded. You’ll also see old ropes and ice axes from early ascents of14,162-foot Mount Shasta, which looms across the valley. Anotherexhibit exhibit chronicles the history of the Sission Fish Hatchery(renamed the Mount Shasta Fish Hatchery when the town changed its namefrom Sisson to Mount Shasta). Begun is 1888 and claimed to be thenation’s second oldest operating hatchery, the state-run facilityplants a million trout fingerlings a year in 250 northern California lakes–dropped from planes or transported by truck.

From 1910 to 1980, the museum building was an active part of thehatchery. Photographs, hatching troughs, and tools show how the fishwere fed, stripped of eggs, hatched, and dispersed. Outside, you’ll see part of the modern hatchery. For anickel, a dispenser spills out a handful of pellets to feed some of the5,000 trout used as brood stock and kept in the pools. Seeing so manyplump rainbows so close may be exquisite torture for anglers. The free museum–run entirely by volunteers–is open 10 to 5Mondays through Saturdays, 1 to 5 Sundays. The logging exhibit runsthrough May; other displays are permanent. For details, call (916)926-5508.

From 1-5, take the central Mount Shasta exit and go west 1/2 mileto the T intersection. The museum is directly ahead.

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