On our way to visit my dad in Shingletown (a.k.a. Mountain Man Terriroty), we ventured off our path to visit an old “ghost” town called Seneca. This town was an old gold mining town, born in 1851. At it’s high point, it had a dance hall, blacksmith, post office, grocery store, an opium den, boarding houses, and a hotel. Ahead of it’s time, the hotel also had solar heated showers. The 500 Chinese miners who boarded here earned 10 cents a day in rice. Eek.
The largest nugget found in this area was 42 ounces, which was worth $28,000 in 1942.
*The above info is a summarized version of the placard posted in a rock in Seneca.
Many years passed, and as the gold in the area ran dry, so did the town. There is a bar still standing in the main part of what is left of the town. As we pulled off the long dirt road (which we traveled so far in, we were convinced we’d be abducted by randoms and buried in the remains of the town), the first thing we see is a group of old-timers. As we pull up, the man driving his dooley gives a once-over. A little wary to speak, I throw my camera on my shoulder and put on a grin to try to ease the fellow’s gaze. Luckily, my fiance is the way he is-he loves old guys and their stories-and he started talking to the old guy. Turns out, the man used to live in the area and frequented the bar, all the way into the seventies. Since then, it has been shuttered. The man said that he and a few others often go back to Seneca to replace the door to the bar, as all the “urban explorers” keep kicking it in to get inside.
Turns out, the land had been purchased for $250,000 recently, and it is said that the owner intends on using it as an RV park. Good luck, guy. Have you tried driving down there? It’s VERY narrow in places (even my Ford Fuckus, oops, I mean Focus had an interesting time on a few of the turns and narrow spots).
Anyway, we were lucky enough to see that the door to the bar had been slid open just enough to squeeze in and take some pictures. There was still an old fridge, glassware, sinks, the bar (of course) and a beautiful old piano with old-ass trophies on it. On the roof and outside by the door, people had stuck business cards and expired driver’s licenses to document their visit. It was cool to see, since we don’t know how much longer this place will be here.
To find Seneca, you must head North on Hwy 89 until you see Seneca Road. Turn onto Seneca Road. Note: it is about a mile long logging road which is still used today; there are lots of turns and narrow areas. Be careful going around the turns in here, as there could be a logging truck coming right at you. You will take this road until you see a couple structures on your right (which look to be storage areas unrelated to Seneca). Look to your left and you will see the Seneca Bar peeking out from behind the trees. Upon getting there, you will find there is a lot more to the small place than you noticed when you parked. There are many abandoned RV’s which look like the could have even been recently used. The other structures on the property don’t look structurally sound and have been trashed unfortunately, so I did not go inside and I wouldn’t advise anyone to do so. The only structure that is still in any kind of shape is the bar.