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Located in northern California, Dogtown was established as a gold mining camp shortly after the 1849 California gold rush on a ridge overlooking the West Branch of the Feather River Canyon.

Granville Stuart recorded his first impressions of Neal's rancho and Dogtown...

"We spent a week at Sam Neal's ranch in the Sacramento Valley, but as every meal we ate cost each of us one dollar, James and I determined to leave and go up into the mountains to the gold mines. We went sixteen miles up in the foothills to a little village on the ridge between the West Branch of the Feather River and Little Butte Creek. This little village was known as Butte Mills, because there was a sawmill nearby run by water power from Little Butte Creek, but it soon got its proper and well deserved name of Dogtown, for although there were only ten houses, there were sixteen fully developed dogs."

There was a reason why so many dogs had made their appearance in the area. It seems that a Mrs. Bassett had reached the area following the Oroville-Susanville highway on foot. She had neither horse nor wagon and her entire possessions consisted of three dogs of uncertain ancestry - two females and one male.

When she reached the ridge overlooking the West Branch of the Feather River she decided to pitch her tent and try her luck. Mrs. Bassett was a tough old gal but she was no miner and had to find other ways to get by. Fortunately, soon after she arrived, her pups multiplied and saved the day.

Most of the men who came to California in the early days came with other men or they came alone, leaving their families thousands of miles behind. These men became quite lonely and longed for some sort of companionship.

Recognizing the needs of the homesick miners, Mrs. Bassett sold her puppies to the local miners for one large pinch of gold dust each. Soon every cabin in the area had a canine companion. There were dogs in the stores, dogs in the saloons, dogs everywhere!

It's no wonder then, that strangers to the area would remark upon their arrival, "This must be Dogtown!"

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