Cory’s Historical Corner

By Cory Peterman

Heriot Lane

Those who have traveled along Highway 49 after coming downhill from Yuba Pass may remember when the road sign marked the town of Sattley as “Satley” right before the Turner Ranch. Others may know that “Lemon Canyon Road” is actually “Lemmon Canyon Road,” named after the Lemmon pioneer family of Randolph/Sierraville, and not the sour fruit. This subject brings us to another road in Sierra Valley – which cuts from Highway 49 between Sierraville and Loyalton in Sierra County, to Dyson Lane in Plumas County. However, on the Sierra County side of this road, the sign reads “Heriot Lane.” On the Plumas County side, the sign reads “Harriet Lane.” Which sign is correct? Who is Heriot/Harriet?

The answer to this question is quite simple – Sierra County has the correct road sign. Heriot Lane was named after John Heriot (1821-1908), who established a ranch in the Sierra Valley in the 1800s, called the John Heriot Ranch, which is now intersected by the road that bears his surname. There was another ranch in Sierra Valley called the Dave Heriot Ranch, owned by John’s son David (1853-1938), which was a short distance west of Beckwourth. The Loyaltonian newspaper of August 21, 1908 featured the obituary for John Heriot, which stated the following:

Mr. John Heriot was born in Dalkeith, Scotland, January 4, 1821, where he grew to manhood. In 1853 he came, with many others of that sturdy type, to California, in which State he has since resided. He came to Sierra Valley in 1873, making his home in this valley from that date until 1897, when he removed to San Jose, where he resided until the time of his death. Mr. Heriot is survived by one daughter, Mrs. P. F. Spooner, two sons, David and Robert A. Heriot, and four grandchildren, Mrs. E. J. Duff and Mrs. L. H. Stephens and Lowell and Claude Heriot of Beckwith. The services were conducted in the Methodist Church at Loyalton by Rev. S. J. Buck. The body was interred in the Loyalton cemetery, by the side of his life companion, who had gone to the land of rest to be waiting to welcome him at the end of his journey.” Heriot’s headstone can still be found to this day at the Loyalton Cemetery, next to that of his wife.

It appears that before John Heriot moved away to San Jose, he sold his ranch, as the Feather River Bulletin of December 10, 1896 reported “Chas. Jones has purchased the Heriot ranch near the Plumas and Sierra line.” If I’m not mistaken, Antone E. Dotta later owned the ranch too, because according to his 1931 biography written by J.W. Wooldridge, Dotta owned his “mountain ranch of two thousand acres and the Heriot ranch of six hundred and eighty acres, as well as other lands devoted to pasturage, his holdings aggregating three thousand five hundred and ten acres.

Returning to John Heriot, he seems to have owned other properties in Sierra Valley as well, as in December of 1891, he bought a piece of property E. H. Miller, Jr. described as “Sw4 and sw4 of se4 Sec, 22, Tp. 22, R 15, E. M. D. M.” Later, it appears John Heriot sold this property to repeat buyer Charles A. Jones, recorded as “420 acres land in Tp 22 N, R 15 E.” From what I can find, Charles Jones was at one time an engineer on the Sierra Valley Railway, and built a two-story hotel in Clio in 1905, known as the “Jones Saloon” at Lot 4, Block 4, of that town.

The earliest mention I could find of the name “Heriot Lane” appearing at the Plumas County side of the road comes from the Feather River Bulletin of September 30, 1926. It was reported “Supervisor Allen J. Long was at Beckwith Wednesday. He had been repairing some bridges in the Heriot lane, with lumber obtained from the Clover Valley Lumber Company without charge, the same having been left over when the high trestle was built north of the Maple ranch. A clear gain to Plumas County.” When and why the sign was written as “Harriet Lane” at the Plumas County side, I do not know. Birdwatching has been a popular activity for many years along Heriot Lane. Locals may know the road as the place to test out the speed capabilities of a new vehicle, or as a shortcut between Highway 49 in Sierra County and Highway 70 in Plumas County.

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