Unincorporated Getaway Artist

Unincorporated Butte County

Part of Butte County’s cul­ture and iden­ti­ty is its his­to­ry, and that his­to­ry is pre­served in a kind of rev­er­ence in its small­est unin­cor­po­rat­ed communities.

In its ear­li­est stages, the coun­ty was a prime stopover point for stage­coach­es and rails, with its pri­ma­ry indus­tries com­pris­ing min­ing and sawmilling. As oth­er indus­tries devel­oped in oth­er parts of the coun­ty, the need min­ing and sawmilling fad­ed away and, with it, the pri­ma­ry eco­nom­ic source in min­ing towns like Inskip and Chero­kee or farm towns like Nord did, too. That didn’t stop small ves­tiges of the com­mu­ni­ties from stay­ing, though — while the major indus­tries that once sup­port­ed the towns were gone, the res­i­dents remained, albeit in much small­er numbers.

Stir­ling City

Stir­ling City, for exam­ple, orig­i­nat­ed in 1903 as a milling des­ti­na­tion for the Dia­mond Match Co. from Ohio, despite ear­ly fears that the local wood would be inad­e­quate to sup­port mass pro­duc­tion. For 70 years, Stir­ling City’s major dri­ver was its sawmill and some small-scale farm­ing; in the 1970s, though, the mill closed. Today, the town is home to just about 300 peo­ple, but vis­i­tors can — and should — enjoy a vis­it to Clotilde Mer­lo Park in the spring and fall.


Near­by Inskip is a gold rush des­ti­na­tion most famous­ly sup­port­ed by its inn. A pop­u­lar stop for min­ers trav­el­ing through in its hey­day, the town now has only a few small build­ings, one of which is the rebuilt (and, if you believe the rumors, haunt­ed by an arson­ist-hunt­ing ghost) Inskip Hotel that’s now on the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of His­tor­i­cal Places. A pop­u­la­tion so minis­cule it doesn’t move the cen­sus, Inskip may be a true ghost town in sev­er­al sens­es of the word, but when it gets cold enough in the win­ter, it has snowy hills, mak­ing for a more rugged week­end explo­ration with­out frills.


Chero­kee, sim­i­lar­ly desert­ed (pop­u­la­tion about 70), was once home to Maidu Native Amer­i­cans before gold min­ers set up camp. Thanks to one of the state’s most pro­duc­tive hydraulic mines, the town once had a pop­u­la­tion that reached the thou­sands. But the mine was short lived, clos­ing before the turn of the 20th cen­tu­ry; today, all that remains is a muse­um and ceme­tery. Twice a year, Chero­kee holds small festivals.


On the Butte-Yube line in the south­east cor­ner of the coun­ty, Ban­gor is home to just under 700 peo­ple. Found­ed in 1855 as a min­ing boom-town by home­sick trav­el­ers from Maine, today Ban­gor is enjoy­ing a mini-wine indus­try boom. The par­tic­u­lar­ly fer­tile agri­cul­tur­al region has a well-deserved place on the famed North Sier­ra Wine Trail. You can enjoy a day tast­ing at a vari­ety of winer­ies in the Ban­gor Wine and Spir­its Region.


Last­ly, just about 300 peo­ple call Nord home. Once a promi­nent farm­land at the time of its found­ing in the late 1800s, Nord was a pro­duc­tive agri­cul­tur­al area and exclu­sive­ly reach­able by rail. This made it an attrac­tive place to farm and live — until, of course, the advent of the auto­mo­bile. Soon, res­i­dents found it more con­ve­nient to trav­el to more devel­oped Oroville and Chico for their goods, and even­tu­al­ly pulled up their roots to those places, too. The farm­land still remains in some areas, but ulti­mate­ly, Nord is anoth­er Butte Coun­ty place with a once-bright his­to­ry that time still hasn’t quite forgotten.