"Normal" Places We Go

California Ghost Towns: Scales

Okay, technically, Scales is not yet a ghost town as one to two homes here are still occupied. However, the town is certainly a shadow of its former self and is well on the way to “ghost town” status.

Scales is a part of that remote band of rapidly decaying (and often already disappeared) Gold Rush era towns, such as Poker Flat, Howland Flat and Port Wine, spanning the Plumas National Forest that I find so fascinating.

Unfortunately, I have less information on Scales than I do on some of the other towns in the area. This is due to a lack of contacts that are knowledgeable about Scales as well as a lack of written material in my possession that covers Scales. As with the other towns in this series, I will update these articles as more information comes in.

Welcome to Scales:


This is one of the homes (perhaps the only one?) that is still occupied in Scales:


I have seen it reported that this is a former hotel in Scales, but I cannot verify that:


The cemetery at Scales:





A view down into the area of hydraulic mining on the edge of Scales:


I know that at least one of the mining operations in Scales was named the “Neocene Mine”.

If you wish to visit Scales, the town is easily accessible via a 2WD vehicle and the GPS coordinates are N39 35.894 W120 59.546.


It is interesting to me that there are so many of these sites around us that we pass by regularly and know nothing about.

Consider just the ghost towns in Yuba County… The above is not in Yuba County (the next county over), but I mention Yuba County as I knew nothing about these former towns listed below despite having grown up there and having an interest in history:

Abbott House | Algodon | Bartons House | Bliss | Bullards Bar | California House | Camp Pendola | Cape Horn Bar | Condemned Bar | Coombs | Cordua Bar | Depot Hill | Egan | Empire House | English Bar | Erle | Foster Bar | Frenches Ravine | Galena Hill | Galena House | Garden Valley | Golden Ball | Honkut | Huntington | Hutchins | Kentucky Ranch | Landers Bar | Lasslys | Lewis | Malay Camp | Marigold | Martins House | Mission | Mount Hope House | New York Flat | New York House | New York House Flat | New York Ranch | Newbert | Oak Grove | Oakland | Oliver | Oso | Plumas | Plumas Landing | Prairie Diggings | Prairie House | Prairie House | Rail Road Hill | Reed Junction | Round Tent | Seneca House | Sweet Vengeance | Taisida | Youngs Hill | Yuba | Yuba County House

As far as I know, there is little to no trace of any of these towns left aside from maybe the name of a road. It makes me sentimental to think about these towns and their former inhabitants – The lives lived and lost, love found and then faded, plans, schemes and dreams formed and faded, conversations we’ll never know about, knowledge gained and now lost forever…

I suppose it is as the French say: Tout passé, tout cassé, tout lassé. Everything passes, everything breaks, everything wears out. Life is transient. We are but brief motes in time. The world about us will decay and vanish when the sun goes supernova. Everything we achieve or create will one day be dust.

Haha. I did not intend for that to turn into an epitaph for ghost towns. As I said earlier, I’ll update this Scales article when I have more information.


13 thoughts on “California Ghost Towns: Scales

  1. Pingback: In Search Of The Cornish National Liberation Army | The Velvet Rocket

  2. Pingback: California Ghost Towns: St. Louis « The Velvet Rocket

  3. I went to scales in the late 80s as my brother and I bought foney stock in a gold mine schame from two brother cab drivers from Las Vegas ,we drove up to see if it was real that’s how we fell for it,one of the men name was Shane I don’t know the other name.but there were other people that were suckered too , there was a group of us ,if you heard anything like this reply .

  4. Really amazing work on the entirety of the California Ghost Town series. You should really be commended for documenting all of these places in California history – places that time is slowly eroding and which very few will ever have the opportunity to see. Very nice work.

    My family spent the summer in and around the La Porte area for decades (long before my time) so all of these place names ring familiar from stories I’ve heard throughout the years. Scales, however, is a place that I’ve been to many times. During the mid 90’s, my dad was good friends with the owner of Scales (not sure if he still owns the town or not) and he would invite us up to the area and let us camp on his property to explore and fish for weekends at a time. I wish I could find the pictures, but we spent time in the main house and got to look inside the former hotel as well. Comparing my memory to your pictures, its amazing how much the cemetery has deteriorated but the two main buildings look much as I remember.

    Again, very nice work !

    • Thank you for your kind words, Chris. Your comment about the deterioration of the cemetery is exactly what prompted me to start documenting what was left while it is still there to be seen. I was distressed by how much had been lost just in the time between when I visited the area as a child and in the past few years.

      I’m glad you were able to get up there and enjoy Scales and the surrounding area as you did. That must have generated many happy memories…

  5. its still very much occupied a good friend of mine purchased the property now me and a group of people go up during the summer time and attempt to restore the property and usually there is someone there at all times

  6. I remember a classified ad in one of my father’s old California Mining Journal magazines with opportunity to buy the town of scales. My father bought a cabin about 6 miles before Laporte around the time I was born (1971). It was destroyed by fire in 1980s and he retired there and built the round house right off Laporte rd 6 miles before Laporte. He was an avid miner and I was fortunate enough to explore many of these old towns and their dirt roads. I wonder if anyone is familiar with the Mackintosh cemetery it is off a logging road now gated across from his home, it went down to Lost Creek where his claim was, I remember the house was barely standing in the 1970s all gone now, but cemetery is still there intact!

    • I used to live in Scales, in the hotel, in the 80’s. We then moved to Proverty Hill. When the state said the buildings at Proverty Hill had to go, one was torn down and rebuilt in La Porte, still standing just behind the La Porte Hotel. We moved the other two buildings to Scales. We worked on the Hotel in the 80’s to keep it up but that was years ago. I visit Scales once in awhile bute it has been a few years since I have been there. Good memories.

  7. Amazed to see the effort in keeping this “town” from disappearing. My great grandmother, Weenonah Ekblom (Williams), was born in Scales, CA on 08/05/1872. Her father, Robert Neil Williams Sr, was in the mining business. He was at Scales long enough for a couple of his children to be born there. Weenonah eventually married someone from Finland and settled there for the rest of her life. Her grandson, my father, emigrated to the United States when he was 16, and eventually settled in Sacramento, CA. Small world. When his sister came out to visit in the 80’s, they took a trip to try and locate Scales. I think they found the general area, but I regret to say I don’t recall if they found the actual town or what was left of it. Nonetheless it was wonderful for me to find documentation and pictures(!) of this part of our family history. Thank you!

  8. I have visited Scales several times. When it came up for sale in the late 80’s / early 90’s, I took a tour with the current resident at the time. I was thinking of purchasing the property. I was thinking of making it a clean and sober retreat. The 12 room bunkhouse would have been ideal for a venture like that. Sadly, I didn’t have a way to make the income from the property to make the payments. I still drive by occasionally, my cousin has 6 contiguous gold claims nearby on Canyon Creek. I hope the town site makes it trough the current wildfire going on in Plumas County. La Porte has been evacuated. Thanks for submitting this article!

  9. Aloha Justin, Was part owner ,1/3, during the early 70’s know a little history of the property. Now live on The Big Island of Hawaii. Great area around Scales! Many good memories.

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