View Full Version : Found a ghost town site and cemetary near Biggs/Gridely, CA

01-20-2007, 10:09 PM
*If someone who has been to the site, or knows what I speak about, and knows of the town's name, I'd be gratefull to know.

The Story

Sometime between 2000-2003, I visited my cousin in Gridley, CA. (Butte County) I grew up in the county adjacent, but did not know the area intimately like a local. Well my cousin did, and she told me about a pioneer graveyard that is "out by the river," meaning the Feather River.

So we piled into her car, drove "to the river" meaning up and onto the levee dirt road, past a horde of bank fisherman, and parked near a small dam or sluicegate made of concrete. The dam was not over the river itself, but built into the levee on the West side of the river. It seperated a deep and wide c**** from the river itself. It was old, probably made around 1900-1930, by my rough estimation. Old rusted wheels still remained where the watergate was opened, but I imagine it hasn't opened for many, many years. The existance of this old dam begged the question, why was it here? It wasn't a small peice of engineering, it stood at least 25 ft tall above the water, and was almost as long. I remember it being wide enough for a car to drive across it. Someone took the time to construct the thing, why was it abandoned?

I walked across the thing, and saw the great c**** on it's Western side. Two boys were fishing off the dam, and caught a bass off the Eastern side. That Eastern side was the side that had fresh, flowing water. I grimaced with disgust when I though about fish residing on the Western side, because the water was stagnant, and bright, almost lime green in color with all the algae in it. (This algae-green color makes the c**** visible from space, Google satellite maps prove it!)

I don't know why the stagnant water didn't dry up once the sluice had been shut for good. I pondered this as I followed my cousin across the dam, and down a narrow dirt road that ran parallel to the c****, westward. The road was straight, and easy to walk, but the grass had grown up a bit and tickled my legs, and the heat of the summer day made one want to pant like a dog after any sort of exertion, such as walking.
Along the way, I noticed that some of the trees were growing in straight lines, in a grid pattern. I speculated that this was once part of an orchard. This evidence of agriculture gave reason for building the dam and c****, as it would provide the benefit of irrigation, and transport for the produce.

We continued to walk along road for 20-30 mins, before we came to a grove of trees. In that grove were several headstones of graves, some of which looked "new". It is possible that the cemetary had been restored in the past, but not recently. A great stone marker stood nearby, which proclaimed the site as historical; the cemetary being the only surviving part of a ghost town. The marker explained that the town's hall had once stood nearby, and stated the name of the town. I regret that I cannot remember any more details. I did, however, leave with the impression that the town was agriculturally based.

The tombstones were interesting, some being the genuine historic article, and I did snap some pictures. (I filed them away somewhere and cannot readily find them, unfortunately.)

It was slightly difficult to walk in the cemetary, it being overgrown with a sort of ivy that covered the ground. The disturbing part was that much of it was infested with tiny spiders, which were harmless, but creepy. I would recommend visiting in winter when such crawlies would be absent.

Some of the graves were sunken a few feet into the ground. Wether they were robbed or naturally sunken I cannot tell.

I will give directions so that anyone interested can find it, and hopefully glean more information from the historical marker that is placed in the cemetary.

Search www.googlemaps.com (http://www.googlemaps.com) for Biggs, CA. Zoom out until you see the large body of water to the north, called "Thermalito Afterbay." Center the Afterbay, then zoom in. Note where E Hamilton Rd meets Larkin Rd, and zoom in closer. The river to the East is the Feather River. Now, switch the map to "Hybrid" or "Satellite" mode, and you will see a bright green c**** running East-West, just under Larkin Rd. Zoom in very closely, and you will see "The Spillway," which is the man-made connection between the Afterbay and the River. Just south of the Spillway, where the bright green color of the c**** ends, is the dam. It is very small in the satellite picture. Google shows the road by the dam (the dirt road I spoke about) as connecting to Larkin, but when I was there it was impassable to vehicles, being so overgrown. Vehicle passage might even light the dry grass on fire in the summertime. I recommend parking by the dam and walking the dirt road parrallel to the c****.
One can get to the dam by zooming out and noting Vance Rd. Vance T's at the levee road, which has no name. Drive north along the levee (2wd is ok) until you see the dam. The cemetary is located at the corner where the c**** turns south. It is on the North bank of the c****, just where it starts to bend, in the shade of trees. Bear in mind there is no way to cross the c****, other than the dam. If you were to the west, but on the southern side of the c****, you would be blocked from reaching the cemetary by the water.

One could theoretically reach the cemetary by simply driving up Larkin Rd, and getting out of the car and walking across a field, but I wouldn't advise that. I don't remember that road having a shoulder, let alone place to park. And stopping on it would likely cause you to be in an accident. Also, the field may be covered in waist-high dry grass, which, being unpleasant to walk through, would also likely hide rattlesnakes and many insects. At least the dirt road route gives you a semi-clear path. :)


I'd advise visitation in the Winter or Fall, when the insects are dormant and the weather is not hot. (Summertime can be quite opressive with heat in triple digits.) Go during the afternoon, where fishermen and river boating/swimming enthusiasts will be present with any questions you might have about the local area. They might not know about the cemetary, but they will probably know about the dam and spillway. After dark, thug and druggie types might be present, as is the case with all of California's riverbottoms. I can note, however, that during the daytime I have always felt safe near the river. Fish and Game patrols it, along with the Sheriff.

In Fall or Winter it would be a pleasant walk, with perhaps some wildlife to see.