Also River, National Forest, Valley, Springs, Retreat, Mount Shasta (town), Dam, Lake
"The origin of the place name is found in the name of the Indians who inhabited the region
of the upper Rogue, middle Klammath, Scott, and Shasta Rivers in the early part of the 19th
century. The name of the tribe is mentioned in an entry under the date of Jan. 31, 1814,
in the journals of Alexander Henry and David Thompson: 'They [the Indians] said they were
of the Wallawalla, Shatasla, and Halthwypum nations' (Coues, New light, p. 827). On
Feb. 10, 1827, Peter Ogden records: 'Here we are among the Sastise,' and four days later he
gave the name of the tribe to a river and a mountain: 'I have named this river Sastise River.
There is a mountain equal in height to Mount Hood or Vancouver, I have named Mt. Sastise. I
have given these names from the tribes of Indians.' In later entries, Mar. 9 and 13, he
spells the name Sasty (OHQ 11:213-14, 216 ). Ogden's sketchy diary does not make
clear which peak and river he named. It is, however, fairly certain that it was Mount Shasta,
and equally certain that it was not Shasta River. Merriam (Journal of the Washington
[D. C.] Academy of Sciences 16:522-29) believes that Ogden referred to Mount
McLoughlin and the Rogue River in Oregon, and the maps of the 1830s support this belief.
Abert's map of 1838, a U. S. government publication, shows Shasty River (and a tributary,
Nasty River!) flowing into the Klamath River from the north, as well as Mount Shasty, all in
Oregon. In the summer of 1841 Wilkes expressly mentioned the mountain in his instructions to
Emmons and Ringgold, who were to explore the interior: 'particularly the Shaste Peak, the most
southern one in the territory of Oregon' (Wilkes 5:521). However, the Emmons detachment
definitely applied the name to the present Mount Shasta; and Eld's sketches have Sasty Peak and
River in California, with Sasty Country and the Sasty or Cascade Mountains straddling the line.
On Duflot de Mofras's map of 1844 the names for both mountain and river (Mont Saste and R.
Des Sastes) are in their new location. There are numerous spelling variants on early maps
(Fremont-Preuss 1848: Mt. Tsashtl), and as late as 1852 Horn's Overland Guide uses the name
Shaste for the Rogue River. Brewer, on Oct. 5, 1862, states that an
Indian Pronounced the name 'tschasta.' Since the spelling Chasty or Chasta occurs on some
early maps, it may be assumed that this was the approximate native pronunciation and that
there was a relation to the Chastas of Oregon. Other early American maps called the peak Mount
Jackson, and Gibbs says the Indian name was Wy-e-kah (Schoolcraft
3:165). The sponsor of the modern version was apparently Madison Walthall, assemblyman from the
Sacramento district, who proposed the name Shasta Co. for the county in the northeast corner of
the state -- instead of the Reading Co., proposed by others. With the creation of the twenty-seven
original counties, on Feb. 18, 1850, the name became official. The spelling Shasta is used on
Scholfield's map of 1851. Some of the other maps of the 1850s have Mt. Shaste and Shasta Butte.
The town known as Reading's Springs or Diggings was changed to Shasta City in 1850. The name
was abbreviated to Shasta with the establishment of the post office in 1851. The town in
Siskiyou Co., first known as Strawberry Valley -- and from 1886 to 1922 as Sisson (for H. J.
Sisson, an early settler) -- was changed to Mount Shasta in 1922. The national forest was created
by presidential proclaimation in 1905, and Shasta Dam was officially named by John C. Page,
commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation, of Sept. 12, 1937."
- Erwin Gudde, California Place Names
References to can also be found in these files:
More of Bob's Trip Reports
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Mt. Shasta
This page last updated: Sat Apr 7 17:02:15 2007
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