Those traveling north on Interstate 5 in Siskiyou County inevitably pass through the small town of Weed, California. I daresay a large percentage of these folks stop at The Weed Store, or another local merchant, in order to purchase what seems like an almost obligatory travel souvenir when passing through these parts, namely, an “I heart weed” T-shirt.
On my travels, I have encountered people all over the country proudly wearing the souvenir Weed, California, shirts. Interestingly, the double entendre proclamations seem to appeal to both cannabis users and abstainers alike.
But what may surprise many is the fact that the town’s name has nothing whatsoever to do with the plant. However, that has never stopped local entrepreneurs from capitalizing on the joke. (Did I mention how many times I have seen people around the country wearing Weed, California, shirts?)
Ironically, in a state that pioneered the legalization of medical and, later, adult-use marijuana, legal “weed” dispensaries have only recently opened in Weed.
Jokes aside, the town actually got its name from its founder, pioneer Abner Weed, who discovered that the area’s strong winds were helpful in drying lumber.
In 1897, Abner Weed bought the Siskiyou Lumber and Mercantile Mill and 280 acres of land for the sum of $400. By the 1940s, the mill town of Weed, California, boasted the world’s largest sawmill!
Weed transitioned from its company town status in 1961, when it was incorporated as a General Law City.
Weed, California: The Steinbeck connection
While I was previously aware of Weed’s mill history, I was unaware of its John Steinbeck connection, until fellow RVtravel.com writer Randall Brink enlightened me.
In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck references Weed as a real town in Northern California near Mt. Shasta.
It is the town that George and Lennie were forced to flee after Lennie terrified a girl by grabbing her dress.
Weed, California, for RVers
A stop in Weed offers RVers more than the chance to buy a funny T-shirt. Nestled in the shadows of Mt. Shasta, breathtakingly beautiful mountain scenery surrounds the town.
It’s the best place to stop until Oregon for food and fuel. A quick Google search provides a surprisingly wide array of public and private campgrounds.
However, if you are a Harvest Hosts member, I suggest forgoing these and opt instead for a night of dry camping at Mt. Shasta Brewing Company. You’ll enjoy a safe, relatively level, quiet place to park, plus a great microbrewery with lots of choices, both standard and creative. They also serve hearty snacks and bar food like the loaded brat in the photo below.
My favorite, at the suggestion of my amiable barkeep Zack, was the Jalapeño lager served with a splash of dill pickle juice and dill pickle spear. It might sound odd—but it was delicious, especially with the aforementioned bratwurst.
The exceptionally friendly staff provided a lot of local suggestions, history, color, and fun.
Even the building housing the brewery is steeped in local history, as it served as the town’s dairy for decades before its current incarnation.
After a good night’s sleep, I motored off the next morning towards Williamson River National Forest campground in Oregon, but not before making note of this terrific overnight Harvest Hosts stop in Weed, as I do find myself driving through this way fairly frequently.