In 1939, the need for a school for Central Valley and Project City inspired three local businessmen, Lee Griner, Clyde Akin, and Earl Wiggins to sponsor the original community celebration, Hell's Gulch, to raise money needed to start construction of the schools.
Hell's Gulch was a fun event and truly was western in character. It featured such goings-ons as shot-gun weddings, street dances, contests and burning the casket of Old Man Gloom.
The second celebration was held to raise money for a fire truck to relieve the Bucket Brigade, which had to draw water from shallow, hand-dug wells that often went dry in the summer. Again, the celebration was successful and Central Valley's first fire truck, a 1921 4-cylinder REO Speedwagon was acquired.
World War II brought an end to the celebrations, and it wasn't until 1948 that Hell's Gulch was revived. This time it was a mass celebration to commemorate completion of the $150,000 water system by the newly formed Shasta Dam Area Public Utility District. This was not a fundraising affair. It was a fun affair and featured such western hi-jinks such as hanging the lone man who voted against the water bonds (in effigy, of course).
In 1951, under the leadership of Mrs. Cleo Tenney, the civic organizations were banded together and
incorporated under the name Shasta Damboree Delegation, and inaugurated a fish derby as the featured event.
In following years, the celebration added several events such as carnivals, kiddie parades, hobby shows and various contests.
In 1952, Sylvia Bernardino was crowned the first Queen of the Shasta Damboree. She was later sent to San Francisco to advertise our community as a Sportsman's Paradise. In 1953, a Water Carnival and Regatta were added attractions.
1954 had a Coronation Ball, and the formal dedication of the new Central Valley Fire Hall. And in 1960, our first area residents, the Native Americans, featured a cultural dance exhibit.
In 1979, a special event was added to showcase our honored citizens. These were the people who came to find work and then stayed to build a community. They brought many talents with them. Some were well-educated, and some were coarse in speech, but they all had a zest for living and enjoying life in this area to the fullest extent. Most of all, they had the ability to see what needed to be done and the perseverance to follow a project to the end.
We owe a special salute to our many citizens and volunteers of the past Damboree committees for making sure that this wonderful celebration still lives and thrives today. No one can quite appreciate the past members hard work as well as the ones who follow them.
Through the years, the events have changed with the times and we're always adding new attractions, but the same spirit lives on in our community which has enabled us to plan this year's Damboree. The support of the community has been the sole reason the celebrations have carried through the years, and have been such a success.