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Established in 1861

[Tree Line Forest]

Yesterday Dogtown, Today Magalia

[Magalia Sign] The community of Magalia dates back to the mining and lumbering days of the 1850's. It was an important stage stop on the Oroville-Susanville road and a supply and entertainment center for miners of the Butte Creek and West Branch canyons. The Magalia area is best known as the location of the largest gold nugget find which weighed in at 54 pounds.

Among the first settlers to the Magalia area was the Bassett family. Mrs. Bassett loved to raise dogs and sell them to the miners for companionship and security. The area was thus named Dogtown, an unofficial name before it was named Magalia.

Kimshew School, first school, was organized December 31, 1859.

Magalia was established November 14, 1861. The name Magalia is believed to have orginated from the spelling of Mahalas, a word used by indians of the area to designate their squaws. Others claim it is from the latin word meaning cottages, resembling the log cabins which dotted the hillside. Prior to the name of Magalia the Post Office was named Butte Mills.

It was one hundred years later on November 17, 1961, Magalia received its official name from the United States Post Office. The post office has since been moved to the Paradise Pines area and the postal name Magalia retained.

Magalia Fires

LIke many early mining towns Magalia suffered from its share of fires. In 1870 when a fire started in an old butcher shop, in 1873, and in 1880 when a new hotel was burned by an arsonist.

Gold Discovery

One of the first mining claims at Dogtown was the Willard Claim, a hydraulic mine, in 1851 owned by 3 miners, Willard, Wetherbee, and Smith. The claim was northeast of Dogtown in the canyon by the West Branch of the Feather River. It was reported a 96-ounce piece of gold was uncovered in 1854. The Willard claim was also the site where on April 12, 1859, A. K. Stearns, a workman, found the largest gold nugget weighing in at 54-lbs. It was worth $10,690.

[Historical Marker] A private plaque California Landmark 771 on the Old Skyway entering Magalia records the discovery of the 54-lb Dogtown Nugget. The marker overlooks the canyon area of the Dogtown Nugget below the base of Sawmill Peak. Much of the view is now shrouded by trees. Click picture for larger view.

Here's more information about the Magalia Gold District, an excerpt from Gold Districts of California, by the California Division of Mines and Geology.

Dogtown Tid-Bits

Magalia Pioneer Cemetery has many old gravesites. The land was given for the cemetery about 1860 by Mr & Mrs John Hupp.

Magalia Community Church is a landmark listed in the National Register of Historical Places.

[Magalia Depot] [Magalia Reservoir]

The Magalia Depot was built in 1906 for the Butte County Railroad during contruction of the Diamond Match mill in Stirling City. Since 1977 is has been occupied as a restaurant.

Magalia has a subdivision of newer homes, with street names of Indian tribes, ie. Yahi, Miwok, Yana, Sioux, and Washo. Among the pines by the cemetery and overlooking the Paradise Irrigation District water treatment plant, are older homes, a few which have been remodeled from original log cabins used by the miners.

View larger pictures shown here and more pictures of Magalia in
the Ridge Photo Album.

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About Magalia, California last revised January 2003

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