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Enjoying downtown Dunnigan

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San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,401
reviews: 41
Enjoying downtown Dunnigan

I will be the FIRST to post about Dunnigan! Even though probably 99% of Californians have been there or at least passed by at some time in their lives, no one pays any attention to it. Literally, if you blink, you miss it; if you blink twice, you miss both North and South Dunnigan.

My first specific recollection of it is from a bus trip when I was on my college speech team and we went to Chico State for an event. We went up I-5 and stopped for lunch at Bill and Kathy's in Dunnigan. Personally, I hardly went north, and still seldom do, so I lost touch with Dunnigan for years, just going by on trips to Lassen and my one trip to Crater Lake.

Last year, I stayed there as part of a longer trip, and it was nice! I stayed at the America's Best Value motel in North Dunnigan. It was about $50. Next to it was a Best Western, which someone had said on a TA review was a good romantic getaway because it was so peaceful and had endless views of green fields and they didn't want to leave.

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g32318-d7678…

The ABV cost less, but it was fine. Although the freeway is nearby, it was not a disturbance. This might be a good place for stargazing because there is nothing urban very close; on my night there it was cloudy.

I again ate at Bill and Kathy's, which I understand is a venerable business owned by the same family since it opened.

That evening I explored central North Dunnigan. It's a farming community with grain siloes served by railroad tracks, a post office, a general store, and the highway interchange with the traveler services: the motels, Chevron, an indie gas mart, Jack in the Box, and a few others. A county road parallels I-5, and on either side are a few homes. To the east of the county road I found an ancient brick oven, a quaint little country church, and a small playground. I did not see one person out walking around.

South Dunnigan is a couple miles away, connected by I-5 and the county road. It isn't as interesting as North Dunnigan. The main features are a Pilot gas and travel plaza and a trucking company.

I was just in downtown Dunnigan again today, on my way home from Redding. I needed gas, and the weather was atrocious so I decided to take a break and have lunch at Bill and Kathy's. I saw that the Best Western that the reviewer raved about is now a Motel 6. I just checked their website and found lower rates than what BW's had been. Maybe there wasn't much of a niche for a nicer BW type of place in Dunnigan; it isn't as if it were a tourist town with lots of attractions where people stay for days. So the place is physically a little nicer than the generic Motel 6.

I was almost tempted to stay over just for the heck of it! Next time I go by, if it promises to be a clear night for stargazing, I just might. And maybe the reviewers who liked the old BW so much will come to the new Motel 6 for their third honeymoon.

48 replies to this topic
Santa Cruz...
Destination Expert
for Santa Cruz
posts: 25,014
reviews: 5
1. Re: Enjoying downtown Dunnigan

quite a few years ago, while on our honeymoon, we stopped by one or the other of the Dunnigan's to call home. We don't remember any motels or much besides a gas station and store.........but we believe you. :~)

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,401
reviews: 41
2. Re: Enjoying downtown Dunnigan

Now that we have an active conversation going on the Dunnigan forum, maybe more people will be prompted to share their experiences.

According to the WIkipedia entry, it was founded in 1853 as "Antelope," and a later settler named Dunnigan started a hotel. The official name was changed to Dunnigan in 1876. There are 717 residents as of 2006, of whom 79% are Latino.

With millions of people annually going up and down I-5 from one B.C. to the other, surely there must be memories and stories waiting to be told. :) Or maybe some Dunniganites will come here and tell us about their tranquil village.

Santa Cruz...
Destination Expert
for Santa Cruz
posts: 25,014
reviews: 5
3. Re: Enjoying downtown Dunnigan

hey, thanks for the history.

Calling all Dunniganites.......tell us your story.

Corona del Mar, CA
Destination Expert
for San Diego, Orange County, California
posts: 32,612
reviews: 344
4. Re: Enjoying downtown Dunnigan

I will wager that 99.9% of Southern Californians have never been by nor heard of this mytical "Dunnigan" place. Is it next to Brigadoon, CA??

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,401
reviews: 41
5. Re: Enjoying downtown Dunnigan

If you live in Southern California and have driven to Lassen, Shasta, Crater Lake, the Ashland Shakespeare Festival, or points north, the chances are high that you've at least had a glimpse of Dunnigan.

If your eyes strayed to your speedometer or mirror, or your watch, you may have missed it.

As for Brigadoon, no, you must be thinking of Dunsinane. But Dunnigan is close to the hamlet of Arbuckle, which according to that font of esoteric wisdom. Wikipedia, was settled by Tacitus Arbuckle. Taz's parents must have been deep scholars of classical history and literature; he is the first person I have ever heard of in modern times (after the 2nd century) named Tacitus. Whether the family was related to the infamous Roscoe, we do not know.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,401
reviews: 41
6. Re: Enjoying downtown Dunnigan

I was just reminiscing about beautiful downtown Dunnigan & came to see if anyone has been there since my last visit.

We'd love to hear from some Dunniganites to learn more about this peaceful little outpost/

:)

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,401
reviews: 41
7. Re: Enjoying downtown Dunnigan

Hello, Dunniganites!

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,401
reviews: 41
8. Re: Enjoying downtown Dunnigan

I stayed one night at Dunnigan during a summer trip. It happened to be a night when there was a meteor shower, and I went out to look for them and did see some. :) Although there are lights around the I-5 interchanges, the entire area is dark enough so there's not much light pollution.

I stayed at the Motel 6. Because it was originally a Best Western, it's a notch above the average Motel 6. Nice big room, and the setting is nice; I could walk out the back driveway of the motel and look at the fields or the main part of town. I had dinner at Bill and Kathy's again, and made the acquaintance of a cat family that had settled in the bushes on the cooler (east) and non-busy (opposite the parking lot) side of the building. Someone, presumably from the restaurant, had set the mother cat and kittens up with bowls of food and water.

Although I've walked all over Dunnigan before, I did so again, and found something new. The most prominent feature in town is the grain silo by the single railroad track with historic Hwy 99 running alongside. The drive-on scale is still there, but I've never seen a sign of life in the office and it looks abandoned. Obviously Dunnigan was important when old Hwy 99 was the main route between the upper Sacramento Valley and the port of Sacramento and the Bay Area.

So I was walking around the silo and scale house and the old highway, and I saw an area across the road from the silo that had once been paved. The paving is broken up and full of plants and weeds now, but it had been quite ornamental and had colored concrete. It was a pullout from the main road that must have been a truck parking area when Dunnigan was a big center for shipping produce.

BTW, the railroad track is still used. I occasionally stay at the Blue Gum Motel in Willows, which is also on historic Hwy 99 about 55 miles north of Dunnigan. I've never seen a train, so I asked the owner, and she said a freight train goes by every week or so.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,401
reviews: 41
9. Re: Enjoying downtown Dunnigan

Time to bump Dunnigan up again so it won't be forgotten.

:)

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,401
reviews: 41
10. Re: Enjoying downtown Dunnigan

Really... no one has been through Dunnigan all this summer who wants to join the conversation?

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