“Want to buy a ghost town with a bar and liquor license?” So begins an exceedingly bizarre Craigslist ad promising ownership of the mountaintop Sierra Nevada town of Seneca, Calif., for a mere quarter of a million dollars. The seller envisions this fixer-upper as a unique getaway that could become a popular tourist attraction with “the most remote restaurant in Northern California.”
So what do you get for your investment? Well, Seneca is technically an unincorporated community in Plumas County that sits on 9.8 acres and includes an island and four buildings, described as “three rundown cabins and the bar.” Its coordinates (40.112083 North, 121.0848 West) put the property on both sides of the Feather River about 18 miles north of the Feather River Canyon, or three hours north of Sacramento. Included in the deal are ghosts of the 1850s gold rush.
“Seneca is the real McCoy,” says the seller, identified by the San Francisco Chronicle as Jerry Manpearl. “It was a gold rush mining town with hotel, stores, houses [and] a population of maybe a thousand. [It’s] very close to historic Chinese-built gold mines with 500 Chinese miners and an opium den.”
Long gone are the days when this town boasted a booming strip of restaurants, dance halls and hotels, but according to the ad, the old mining equipment is still lying around, and there remains today an active small-scale gold mining operation. What became of the opium den remains shrouded in mystery.
This abandoned mining town slowly dried up after the post office closed in 1943, though it had a bit of a renaissance in the 1970s. According to the ad, Seneca welcomed thousands as the host of the “Woodstock of the West.”
The remote property today runs on a generator, has no utilities, and access depends on the weather. Here’s a look at some of the other highlights (or lowlights, depending on how you see it):
Of the road (video), the seller notes: “There are extreme drop-offs and it is one of the most extreme roads in the region. … The northern access is scary and features maybe 1,000-foot drops into a gorge.”
Of the Gin Mill bar (video): “There was no business activity at the bar this past season. But the bar can be opened whenever one likes.”
Of the three cabins “in a state of (dis)repair”: “None of the properties contain any objects of value.”
Of the neighbors: “The white cabin, barn and other modern structures nearby (which are in good condition) are NOT part of the property. Do not trespass … Respect their privacy. This is serious country as regards [to] trespassing and pilfering.”
The current owner reportedly purchased the property in the mid-1970s for $60,000 but had to leave for health reasons (“The area isn’t suitable for anyone in shaky health”). The seller said there are “no known environmental hazards,” while the deal includes all mineral and timber rights, the liquor license, a deed, a title search and title insurance. Annual property taxes run about $700, while the liquor license, subject to county approval, costs roughly $400 each season (April to December).
The Plumas County assessor's records value the land and structures in Seneca at about $72,000, but if $250,000 for an abandoned ghost town with little of value, a bar that hasn’t been open in some time and buildings in a state of disrepair sounds like the deal of a lifetime, you can inquire here.