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Weaverville, the town that James Hilton - the author of Lost Horizon - said inspired his mythical paradise of Shangri-La, has been named by Budget Travel as one of the coolest small towns in America and, by exclusion, as the coolest small town in California.Weaverville The Joss House SMALL P8021972Recent visitors gather at The Joss House

With a population of 3,807 souls, Weaverville is known for its isolated location near the Trinity Alps of northern California. The settlement began during the California Gold Rush and was the site of the 1854 Tong War among Chinese laborers who eventually thrived there, embraced by a supportive community. They built The Joss House, California’s oldest continuously used Chinese temple, a colorful structure where Taoist faithful have worshiped since 1874.

Red brick construction, used to fireproof buildings during the late 1800s, preserved the town’s historic character. Many Victorian homes and commercial buildings line its main street which remains a picture of life in the late 19th century. Weaverville curiosities, like external spiral staircases on store fronts along Main Street, harken to a time when shop owners would avoid paying taxes for a second floor, since local tax laws then charged extra for interior staircases.

Today, Weaverville serves as a gateway to the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and regional supply center for the State Route 299 corridor between Arcata and Redding. Nearby Trinity Lake is a popular destination for camping, fishing and watersports and Weaverville provides a gentile, gently bohemian and time-frozen resting point for weary travelers.

Budget Travel wrote, “The result is a town that, even today, comfortably spans cultures… Religious and cultural tolerance combined with 2 million acres of wild country? Sounds like heaven on earth—a description that wouldn't be out of place in the works of the writer James Hilton, who compared Weaverville to… a little place called Shangri-La.”

 

Read more at budgettravel.com/contest/americas-coolest-small-towns-2012,11/.

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