Carrie Guthrie
1880 - 1956
My grandmother Carrie Guthrie was born in 1880 on a mining claim near the California Gold Rush boom town of Canyon
City. Her father had crossed the plains from Missouri when he was only 19 and
settled along Canyon Creek in Trinity County, where he worked his claim and operated a sawmill.
The Guthrie Homestead & Sawmill
Carrie's father, William M. Guthrie, was a founding pioneer and he eventually became a Trinity
County Supervisor from 1872 until his death in 1888. When he died, he left a widow Susanna and
eight children including a newborn. Susanna could not operate the sawmill or the mining claim while
caring for her family and eventually both were sold for very little money. The family moved to San
Francisco, hoping for more opportunities in the big city.
They were established in San Francisco for about 9 years when the Great Earthquake and Fire of
1906 took place.
The mountains around Canyon Creek and Weaverville are named the
Trinity Alps. The area is extremely rugged and remote even today.
In pioneer times travel was difficult and in winter, perilous.
Carrie grew up as a pioneer woman in rough country.
The city's train rails bent from the force of the
quake. Residents are leaving with all their worldly
goods strapped onto a horse drawn wagon.
All that was left of San Francisco's City Hall.
Houses fallen off their foundations
or completely collapsed.
Residents had to resort to dipping water from
sinkholes in the street.
This photo has a hand written caption of "Looking toward the Potrero Fire".
The sky in the distance is completely engulfed in black smoke. It is difficult to see but the foreground is an open field full of people who
have set up an emergency encampment away from their fallen houses.
These are scans of original photos that have been passed down from my grandmother.
All have handwritten captions written in pencil on the backs:
Carrie and my grandfather were married in the months after the Quake & Fire. She had three
children, all of whom graduated from college. Her pioneer spirit never left her. She was one of the
first women to drive a car in the town, she reroofed her own house, made her own shoes, grew her
own vegetables and had a mind all her own. Though she died when I was only four, I do remember
taking proper High Tea with her from delicate cups of English china.
Carrie Guthrie McClain about 1943
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