Each year in early December, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area and Old Shasta State Historic Park team up to offer numerous holiday activities for families. Ever intrigued by living history opportunities, we were eager to take part.
Our first stop was at the historic Camden Tower House, built in 1852, the Camden House is the oldest house in Shasta county. Here, the kids cooperated together to create a Christmas wreath of evergreens. We then toured the inside of the house (though it is furnished minimally in only two rooms). It was fun to imagine living here in the late 1800s and looking out upon the orchards. Upstairs, we enjoyed listening to a Christmas story read aloud by a volunteer in modern clothing.
Returning outdoors, the kids selected a old-style picture postcard and used a feather quill and ink to write a seasonal greeting to a family. We had tried to make our own feather quills some time ago … the directions had stated to bury the feather in an aluminum pan of hot sand. We did so … but apparently the sand was too hot and the feathers blistered, warped, and burned. The kiddos were thereby very excited to give this a go.
We then made our way to Old Shasta where we were able to walk along the row of old, nearly-ruined brick buildings. Once the “Queen City” of California’s northern mining district, these ruins and some of the nearby roads, cottages, and cemeteries are all silent today. Volunteers dressed in period attire introduced the kids to numerous children’s games – Hoop & Stick, Game of Graces, and Jacob’s Ladder. Sweetie asked if perhaps we could volunteer here, “I miss dressing up and pretending I lived in 1880.” I promised I would inquire, but sadly the park is one of several state parks slated to close in May.
We then walked down to the Blacksmith shop where kids could try their hand at forging a piece of iron into a wall hook. Sadly, we arrived late in the day and the last visitor they would have time to tutor was just getting started. Buddy was fascinated … as I’m sure any young boy would be … and he begged to come back another day.
Everyone had a great time and it was a fun way to kick off the holidays. We hope that funding or alternatives can be found to keep the museum accessible.