|Elevation||1,480 ft (450 m)|
|Time zone||UTC-8 (Pacific (PST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-7 (PDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||1655965|
Denny, California, refers to two little mining settlements named Denny that were and are located in northwestern Trinity County, one in the upper New River watershed within the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area and the other twenty miles downstream along a one-way county roadway.
The first Denny, now called Old Denny on maps, originated with two other little towns close to it—White Rock City and Marysville—in September 1884 when the area was populated with hard rock (lode) gold miners. Its name for the first few years was New River City and then was changed to Denny from A.H. Denny who maintained a store there as well as other stores over the ridges in Siskiyou County. (Denny never lived at the place that adopted his name, however.) As time went on the gold profits went down, people were leaving to find other places to live, and by 1920 brothers Grover and Willard Ladd began homesteading a 160-acre ranch where the new Denny would be located, twenty miles down the trail. In 1921 their parents, Frank and Nellie Ladd, left Old Denny and moved down with their sons, bringing with them the Denny Post Office, and so soon the new location adopted that name, as well. Old Denny was abandoned with no buildings standing now.
This "new" Denny site, a large flat situated on a bench alongside the New River, was first occupied by placer gold miners in the mid-1850s soon after gold was discovered in the New River. General James W. Denver, from whom later the Colorado city was named, was one of the men instrumental in discovering this new source of gold, when he sent a group of men up in this direction, in1851.
Cyrus Quimby and his brother-in-law, Robert L. Thomas, moved onto the large flat (also called "Big Flat" during its first years) in the mid-1850s, began farming and established a business called the Thomas-Quimby Trading Post (according to Trinity County official tax records for the late 1850s). Thomas and Quimby married Chimariko Indian sisters who had been raised along the Trinity River at Cedar Flat. The location became known as the town of Quimby, and the creek about a mile upstream from which the ranch obtained water, was also named after Cyrus Quimby. The town had a post office and was also a place for local voters to cast ballots at election time.
For a few years around 1907 the site was called Burris from Frank Burris who was the post master, ran the store, and mined—part of the time at the Beartooth Mine, a gold and copper hard rock mine across the New River from Denny. The ranch was farmed and the store or trading post was continued by different people through the years until Grover and Willard Ladd took over the land with the intention of homesteading, as already mentioned above, in 1920.
Denny made occasional national news from the 1970s through the first years of the 1980s when there was in influx of new people who came to the area to live on mining claims. The mining claims are part of the National Forest system of public lands and the local U.S. Forest Service was responsible, in coordination with the Bureau of Land Management, for handling a situation where there were many illegal residences on the claims. The Mining Law of 1872 had allowed miners to live on their claims, but later legislation, including the Surface Rights Act of 1955, revised this, stipulating that a claim would have to actually support the claimants—not just be a place on which to live. It was a complicated situation which brought about controversial and sometimes angered incidents, including the burning of two Forest Service buildings by arson and, in April 1971 a Forest Service official was injured in the neck by a ricochet bullet during a mineral examination at one of the problem mining claims. Someone from the other side of the New River was shooting toward a group of people associated with the event.
As time went on, some of the people on the mining claims became marijuana growers on the public lands, evolving into incidents where they made threats against the Forest Service and also the public who wanted to hike and fish in the region.
Beginning in early 1984 and lasting for several years' time, a special law enforcement task force was organized consisting of people from the Forest Service and Trinity County Sheriff's Office, the task force's headquarters set up at the Denny Guard (fire) Station. They raided marijuana gardens up the trails and initiated the clean-up of "grow" camps where much garbage and refuse had been deposited within the Trinity Alps Wilderness and elsewhere. The special program led to the successful removal of many of the growers from the public lands up the New River.
Denny made news another time, in February 1978, when one evening two men argued over a dog. Drinking and visiting with Doug Mc Gimsey in McGimsey's cabin, Mike Smith confessed to Ed Irvin that he had shot and killed Irvin's dog, which had been missing. (Irvin had thought the dog—which locally was known to attack and bite Irvin's neighbors—had probably gone off and died from heartworms. When Irvin found this out, he took a knife to Smith's abdomen, wounding him but not killing him. As Irvin walked out of the cabin and up the nearby hill, Smith grabbed McGimsey's shotgun and shot Irvin in the back. While Irvin lay there dying, Smith left and returned to his own cabin across the New River from McGimsey's cabin.
Trinity County deputies came onto the scene, most of them having to travel from a couple hours' away, and found Irvin still alive, but lying there on the ground. They continued on across the river to arrest Smith and left one deputy behind to tend Irvin while waiting for the ambulance; Irvin died a little while later. After much shooting back and forth in the dark between Smith and the deputies, Smith was apprehended—later to be found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison—while another person, teenager Dana Humphrey who had come onto the scene with Irvin's son, Chayne, had been shot and killed during the confusion. Chayne was wounded in his thigh.
A store was operated full time at Denny until the early 1970s, then intermittently for a few years, and then not at all. There is no store there now, although the little log structure still stands on the side of the road for passersby to view as they drive by. The road to Denny from Highway 299 West at Hawkins Bar is only about 19 miles but takes close to an hour to drive due to the number of curves and steep terrain.
Actor Ed Flanders, who owned and lived on the nearby Dailey Ranch for several years, died there in 1995.
Denny is the gateway to the western portion of the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area.
- "Denny". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- Berrien, Gay Holland,Grover Hayden Ladd, A New River Packer, Naturegraph Books, Happy Camp, CA, 2014
- New River Mining District Minutes for September 7, 1884, on file at Trinity County Courthouse, Weaverville, CA
- Letter from General James W. Denver to Rohnerville, CA, Herald, December 19, 1891; George C. Burns, Denver, the Man, published by author, 1949
- Quimby and Thomas marriage records on file at Trinity County Courthouse, Weaverville, CA
- Trinity Journal, Weaverville, CA, April 22, 1971; Klam-Ity Kourier, Willow Creek, CA, April 28, 1971
- Trinity Journal, Weaverville, CA, March 7, 1984
- Trinity Journal, Weaverville, CA, February 23, 1978
- Record Searchlight, Redding, CA, November 14, 1978
- Ed Flanders biography (1934-1995), http://www.filmreference.com/film/67/Ed-Flanders.html