Yesterday, Blayke and I went to his Mom's house in Cottonwood for dinner, and on our way home, I said what I normally say, "Let's take the back way". On our way, we stopped to snap a few photos and enjoy that magic hour of light before the sun sets.
So we continued on in that way for awhile, dreaming of being on the open road and exploring the four corner states and being free. We passed a road called Adobe, and in the spirit of exploration, turned onto it blindly, hoping to see some really old growth oak trees. We were not disappointed.
We continued driving, and talking about what life might have been like back in the day when these trees were young. Who lived here? How hard was a day in their life? Did they have to grow and make everything they consumed and needed? What indigenous people lived here? Who were the first settlers?
During this historic dreamy conversation, we arrived at a one lane bridge that led to a very lush and overgrown area of the woods. It sort of felt like it had appeared out of nowhere. The bridge crossed a creek that dumps right into the mighty Sacramento. The place was teeming with wild birds and insects.
We drove into the BLM nature preserve and saw the sign "Reading Island".
Reading was the name of the man that Redding was named after. He was one of the very first European settlers here. I think he arrived sometime in the 1840's. We explored a bit. We parked our car and saw a boat ramp, which we got really excited about, since we have a canoe and have been looking for new places to paddle.
What an incredible spot! If we hadn't become a meal for the local mosquitos, we probably would have stayed longer, and walked all the way to the river. The coolest part about this finding is that we had absolutely no idea about the history of this place, and therefor had some homework to do when we got home. Considering we're both history buffs, we had something to look forward to - a mystery to solve.
Today we had a minute to sit down and search the web. The most helpful and informative link was an older Record Searchlight article written by Dottie Smith. Here's what we found:
"This is the place where Pierson B. Reading (pronounced Redding), the first white settler in the far northern portion of California, built his home. This is where the history of white settlement began in what would become Shasta County. This and the surrounding area was the location of the 26,632-acre Rancho Buena Ventura Mexican Land Grant obtained by Reading from Mexico. It was the northernmost Mexican Land Grant issued in California... ...Reading returned and permanently settled on his grant in 1847, built the adobe, and made it his home. He also cultivated 40 acres, and planted pear and olive trees, cotton, grapes, grain and vegetables - with the help of local Wintu Indians, who lived in villages near his adobe. What had been their land for centuries was now owned by Reading."
So we got some answers. The idea that Wintu land was given by Mexico to Reading didn't make me feel very good, but maybe in more research I'll find that they lived peacefully among each other and had a lovely life... Yeah. Here's to dreaming.