Bill Miesse, historian and amateur geologist, will be leading a tour of the Castle Crags area scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 19 from 8:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost is $5 per person.

Everyone will meet at 8:45 a.m. at Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum, 1 N. Old Stage Road in Mount Shasta and in cars by 9 a.m. The tour will be limited to 25 people.

Some of the local history sites and stories will include the 1837 Edwards Cattle Drive up the canyon, the 1841 Wilkes Expedition, Mountain Joe’s cabin, the 1855 Battle of Castle Crags, the 1892 Castle Crags Tavern, and the still standing wood buildings of a never opened Castle Crags Museum.

On the north side of the Crags, the group will visit Little Castle Creek. This was the route used by Wintu Indian and white volunteers going up to fight the Battle of Castle Crags against the enemy Modocs and other Indians holed up in the Crags.

Geologically, Miesse will discuss the historical chromite mining that took place near the lower creek from 1906 to about 1918. Two aerial tramways and a small ore-hauling railroad were used to mine the largest single chromite ore “pod” in the United States. Most of the ore was sent across the country by train to Baltimore, underscoring the importance of this resource to the steel industry.

On the south side of the Crags, the group will see an amazing vista of the Crags from a little ways up the Whalen Summit Road.

The tour will then include a short geology exploration along a flowing creek to examine the beautiful and unusual granite-like rocks and minerals of the Crags and the surroundings.

A little-known fact is that nearly 50 percent of the earth’s crust is made up of the mineral known as feldspar. The unusually perfect and large (thumb size) opaque pink feldspar crystals in the Crags granite make the Crags one the best places in the world to visually understand the crystal growing processes within molten magma.

In the 1960s, rock climber Walter Vennum spent two summers climbing nearly every square foot of the Crags as part of his PhD thesis on the geology of the Crags. Miesse will discuss some of his findings, which will help the group to understand the three zones of the 170 million year old Castle Crag granitic rocks.

At the end of the tour there will be a short hike, 45 minutes round trip, in the shade along a creek. This hike will allow viewing from afar of the amazing wind and water sculpted features of the higher portions of the Crags.

Overall, it may be a hot day, and Miesse promises that he will try to keep the tour as cool as possible. Good shoes, hats, etc. are recommended. Bring a lunch too.

Participants may pay the $5 fee ahead of time to reserve a spot. Contact the museum by phone or email: 530-926-5508 or

This event is part of a series of talks and tours explaining the geology and history of the area. The suggested donation is a fundraiser for Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum, which is a tax-exempt non-profit organization with an all-volunteer staff that installs new exhibits to share the stories of the Mount Shasta area for its community members and visitors.

The museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information about upcoming presentations and events at the museum can be found at