Birth of a City
Located on the upper Paradise Ridge in Butte County, Stirling City
has a population around 400. It was a late starter beginning in 1901,
some say it may have been 1903, by
Columbus Barber owner of Diamond Match in Barberton, Ohio. He
had come west seeking wood for his matches. It was said the wood was to soft
for matches, but construction of the sawmill began in 1904 supervised by Fred
Haskins. The mill was completed with its first full season in 1905.
The name Stirling City was chosen by Fred Clough from a brand of steam
boiler used at the mill built in Barberton by the Stirling Boiler Company.
Fred Clough along with some Diamond officials, as stockholders, ventured into
various businesses which included the Stirling City Mercantile Company and
the Stirling City Bank. In 1911 the bank was robbed of $9,000. The robbers
made their escape down the ridge using a railroad handcar.
Stirling City was a dry community. Well almost! There was one bar called
the Red Devil on the corner of Quartz and Manzsanita. This lot did not
have the liquor prohibition clause in its deed. It was a booming business
as there were no others for miles around as Diamond owned the land and did
not allow such business on their property. Next to the Red Devil Saloon was
a house of prostitution called The White Angel, but it is not known if
any Diamond officials were in partnership with its female owner.
As a thriving community it included a hospital named Mount Saint Agnes
Hospital run by the Catholic Order, Sisters of Charity.
By the middle of the 1950's most of the millworkers and their families had
left the area. The aging sawmill no longer was meeting the company's needs
and its closing came January 31, 1958. It was sold to Pollak Steel Supply
for dismantling but they didn't get much to salvage as on April 10 the mill
caught fire burning the entire mill area and some of the adjacent timberland.
This was the second major fire, the first being in April 1931 which destroyed
many homes and businesses although the mill and lumber piles were saved.
Years later in 1964, Diamond National built a stud mill on the site and operated this mill for 10 years. Then in 1992, Sierra Pacific Industries purchased from Diamond National over 200,000 acres and logging began, but no milling operations in Stirling City except for a small office staff. This office finally closed in May 2012, moving to Chico.
The streets are uniquely named after minerals and trees and are in the
order of their hardness. The 7 mineral streets are Diamond, Quartz, Granite,
Lava, Slate, Mica, and Gypsum. The streets named after trees are Manzanita,
Oak, Pine, and Spruce.