The Camden House Orchard: Historic Survivor of Age, Disease, Drought, Fire, Flood, and Neglect

David A. Laws
17 min readJul 24, 2021
The Camden House at Christmas. Photo: Eden, Journal of the California Garden & Landscape History Society, Winter 2021, Volume 24, Number 1. pp. 52–3.

“Success was called LUCK by those that failed. From observation, nine-tenths of the ‘luck’ came from hard work and judgment.” — Charles Camden [1]

According to forty-niner Charles Camden, it took hard work and judgment, not just luck, to make his fortune prospecting for gold. These same characteristics in later generations have helped preserve a fragment of the historic orchard that survives around Camden’s house in the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (NRA) west of Redding in Northern California.

Orchards of the Tower House Historic District

Levi H. Tower (1820–65) purchased land and a lodging house on Clear Creek in western Shasta County in 1851. He expanded the building into a 21-room hotel that he called the Tower House and planted gardens and an orchard to serve his guests. After Tower died in 1865, his partner, Charles Camden (1817- 1912), developed the property as a ranch and resource for his mining business until he passed away in 1912.

Camden’s daughter, Grace Richards, used the Camden House as a part-time residence and managed the ranch with the help of a tenant farmer until 1933 when Philena Hubbard, Camden’s granddaughter, inherited the property. Hubbard visited with her family in the summer and continued to oversee the care of the grounds with new plantings in the orchard as late as 1937. Farming activity ceased after floods in 1941.

Hubbard sold the property to the National Park Service for inclusion in the Whiskeytown NRA in 1969. The NPS listed the Tower House Historic District (THHD) on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and invested substantial effort in preserving historic trees and reestablishing sections of the orchard as a featured site in the NPS Park Cultural Landscape Program.

Fig 1: The Camden House (September 2016). Credit: David A. Laws

In 2018, the Carr Fire b.

The Carr Fire of 2018 burned over 200,000 acres of Shasta Country and was the

David A. Laws

I photograph and write about Gardens, Nature, Travel, and the history of Silicon Valley from my home on the Monterey Peninsula in California.