Etna is located in Northern California near the Oregon border; located in Scott Valley next to the unincorporated town of Greenview and the city of Fort Jones. Etna is located at the foot of the Marble Mountain Wilderness in the Siskiyou Mountain (Cascades) Range and is an attraction for hikers, rafters, climbers, hunters, bicyclists, kayakers and people who do all sorts of other outdoor activities.
Scott Valley encompasses several small communities; the largest being Etna and Fort Jones and is a small, rural area dependent on agriculture and forest products. Visitors to these historic towns experience the quiet rhythms of rural life and the friendly manner of country shop-keepers. Local folks are known for their plucky independence and entrepreneurial spirit. (Courtesy of Klamath National Forest and Scott Valley Chamber of Commerce)
A flour mill was built here in about 1867 and the town was called Rough and Ready. Nearby was another small mill and town called Aetna Mills. In 1861 and 1862 flooding seriously damaged the town of Aetna Mills so that business slowly moved towards Rough and Ready. In 1870, to avoid confusion with other towns in the central valley of California, the named was changed and shortened to Etna Mills. The "Mills" was dropped in the 1930s to the name Etna as we know it today.
Small Town Summary Provided by Small Town Gems - www.smalltowngems.com
This town is located in the small, but beautiful, Scott Valley. Etna was showcased in the August 2004 issue of Outdoor Magazine as a “launching point for backcountry rambles on foot or on water”. Even if you are not a hard-core outdoors person, you will enjoy the surrounding valley beauty and the old, authentic, small downtown of Etna. The Etna Museum, located at 520 Main Street, is open June through September. It displays artifacts about the Karuks, the indigenous people who lived along the Salmon and the Klamath Rivers, and the miners, loggers and ranchers who displaced them. While in Etna, you may want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The easiest way to get to the PCT is to take Sawyer's Bar Road to Etna Summit.
Town History Provided by Small Town Gems - www.smalltowngems.com
As far as is known today, Hudson Bay Company trappers were the first white men to enter Scott Valley. One of these trappers, Stephan Meek, returned many times and eventually settled here in the 1830s. Meek remarked that "it is the richest place for beaver I have ever seen".
With the discovery of gold (1851-1852) at Scott Bar and Yreka, travel through Scott Valley increased greatly. One of the main trails to Oregon led through the valley from the south. Another trail, leading to the Salmon Mountains, branched off the main trail near the site of Old Etna.
Supplies for the miners came mainly from Humboldt Bay. This route was long and dangerous, and in winter, often impassable. As a result, prices were extremely high. A closer source of supplies was badly needed.
In response to this need, Captain Charles McDermit, Charles Moore, William and Dr. Davidson built a flourmill in 1854 on Etna Creek near the foot of Salmon Mountain. This mill, said to be the first in Northern California, was named Aetna Mill. Grain for the mill was grown on the Davidson Brothers' farm, and as demand increased, was also grown by other valley farmers.
The mill owners were able to supply flour to the miners at substantial savings over that which was brought in from the coast. Several pack trains made regular trips over Salmon Mountain to Sawyers Bar carrying flour and other necessities such as whiskey from the local distillery.
The little town, which bore the name of the mill, grew rapidly. A hotel was built by the Davidson Brothers. Other buildings included a sawmill, blacksmith shop, machine shop, two mercantile shops, a furniture shop, saloons and a post office.
The prosperity of the town was cut short during the winter of 1861-1862 when Whiskey Creek became a raging torrent, which washed away the distillery and the Davis family home. The house, with Mrs. Davis and her four small children was carried down the creek until its progress was blocked by a huge boulder. Much damage was done to the homes and property that lay in the course of the flood.
After this disastrous flood , most of the residents moved to the nearby town of Rough and Ready. The post office, which retained the name of Aetna Mills, was moved to Rough and Ready. Although little remains today of this early town, people still refer to it as "Old Etna". Rough and Ready had started with the building of a sawmill in 1853.
The mill owners dug a ditch from what is now Etna Creek to furnish water for their mill. Two years later, in1855, a flourmill was erected not far from the sawmill. The new mill was christened the Rough and Ready Mill; therefore the settlement that grew up around the mill was given the same name.
After the flood destroyed Aetna Mills, the swampy area west of Rough and Ready's Main Street was drained and mapped out unconventional blocks and narrow streets to provide home sites for the growing population. Perhaps the most prosperous business to be established in Rough and Ready was the Kappler Brewery.
In 1868 Charles Kappler bought a brewery from P.A. Hartstrand on the east side of Scott Valley. In 1872, Mr. Kappler moved the brewery to Rough and Ready. Although the original building burned down in1875, Mr. Kappler built a larger brewery and greatly expanded his business.
An electric plant built at Johnson Creek Falls west of town, provided electricity to operate the large refrigerating plant. Power was also supplied to the town until water shortage forced Mr. Kappler to obtain electricity from the California Oregon Power Company.
Mr. Kappler had four wagons transporting beer far and near. It is said that his business netted a quarter of a million dollars annually. As the town grew, considerable confusion resulted from the fact that the name of the town and the post office differed.
Locals began calling the town Etna Mills. Also, there were two towns in California with the name Rough and Ready, so in 1874 the state legislature changed the name of the town to Etna Mills. Four years later the town was incorporated as a sixth class city. About 1930 the town petitioned the legislature to drop the "Mills" from its name.