As I was driving from Redding, CA to Weaverville, CA yesterday (5-July-2009), I was anticipating the happy “coincidence” of being able to have my picture taken next to the “Welcome to Whiskeytown!” sign. (I put coincidence in quotes because I had been planning to visit Whiskeytown for just this purpose ever since I saw it on a map of California. Had I taken this picture, it would have been fully intentional.) I drove past the picturesque Whiskeytown Lake, but weirdly there was no sign of Whiskeytown. This, despite there being a little dot on the map that is clearly marked “Whiskeytown.”
After a wonderful dinner (including a pint of Lost Coast‘s Indica IPA, and not one but two single malts!) at La Grange Café in Weaverville, I got back to my hotel’s dubious Wi-Fi connection to try to determine how I could have missed Whiskeytown. It’s not as if there are any other roads between Redding and Weaverville; unless you have a helicopter, California’s state route 299 is pretty much the only game in town.
BTW, before I leave the topic: If you want Scotch in the stunningly picturesque Trinity County, CA, you really need to visit La Grange Café! I could say that you have no choice but to visit them if you want Scotch in this county, but I don’t want to sound negative — it’s not their fault that Trinity County is lightly populated. Regardless of the location, their selection of malts is impressively varied (if frequently misspelt), and the prices are excellent. In fact, the food is excellent, too, and as with the whisky, their prices are surprisingly low. This same food, if the restaurant were in the San Francisco Bay Area, would cost twice as much.
Back to my quest for information on why I couldn’t find Whiskeytown. I tried searching Wikipedia since they usually have good data on named places that you might see on a map. Bingo! Then, I tried entering “Whiskeytown, CA” into a Google search and found corroboration that it is, apparently, at the bottom of the eponymous Whiskeytown Lake. It’s a ghost town where all the ghosts died by drowning.
The town got its name, when it existed, because a bunch of whiskey was accidentally dropped into the creek that was soon called the Whiskey Creek (no, there is not a creek that runs with whiskey!). The mining town that grew up there was naturally called Whiskeytown. Mostly, it seems like it was moderately successful as a mining town until it was ultimately buried under the lake that now bears its name, in 1963.
The thing that makes me wonder about Whiskeytown is that the dot on the map is not in the lake (the Maps application on the iPhone is using data from Google and it’s not drawn at all like the map on the left, also from Google Maps). Cartographers are notoriously detail-oriented and I don’t see why they couldn’t have located the dot in the lake, with some legend or notation indicating that it is a ghost town. More research is called for!