Forest City National Register Historic District

Forest City has been designated a National Register Historic District and is located in the Tahoe National Forest.  First settled in 1852 as Brownsville, the community once boasted a population of over 1,000 and today is home to just a handful.  The town is unique in that it never went through the patent process for land ownership.  All real property in Forest City is publicly owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service with the buildings allowed via special use permits.

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Latitude: 39.4896601 Longitude: -120.8529997 Elevation: 4494 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Lee Adams

About this Establishment

Located on the north fork of Oregon Creek, Forest City’s roots and fortunes are tied to the search for gold.  As gold mining prospered, so did the community.  And as mining diminished, so did the town.  It once boasted 32 commercial businesses that included numerous saloons and dance halls, Catholic and Methodist churches, blacksmith shop, butcher shop, grocer, drug store, and two variety stores.  The town also supported a band and baseball team.

Today, 26 structures survive in the town, including the school building and building that served as a dance hall, both of which are owned and operated by the Forest City Historical Association, a non-profit corporation. Two cemeteries that date to the Gold Rush also survive. In addition to the draw of history, Forest City is a starting point for a number of hiking and mountain biking trails in the area.

Time Period Represented

1850s to 1950s

Visitor Fees

Free. Forest City is located on your public lands administered by the US Forest Service. Do respect private property rights as all structures are privately owned.

Seasons Open

Year round, but winter does bring snow.


This is a magical place indeed. This town still has the look and feel of a gold rush era town. The history you can easily see just by walking down Main Street. If you look a little harder it is easy to find evidence of the historic mining activities that made this location so popular during the gold rush. If you hike or bike on the local trails you just may be on a historic ditch which carried water to one of the mines in the area. The trails in the area are maintained by a non-profit called Forest Trails Alliance (FTA), which I am a proud member. This group of hikers and mountain bikers are also trying to add more trails on existing historical alignments. FTA also needs help. Visit to learn more.

Blair Hickman, 8/28/2011

Howdy....I have a small dated 1932 oil painting of Forrest City done by noted artist and local named Langdon Smith. It’s for sale. Should be hanging in the Historic District. Any patrons out there?, 11/24/2012

I am a descendant of Solomon Austin Scullin and Mary Griffin Scullin. S. Austin Scullin as he was referred to came to Forest City in 1857 under contract to timber the Good Mines. Austin and Mary were in partnership with West in the ownership of Forest House. In March 1883 a fire broke out in the kitchen and proceeded to burn most of the town down. Austin and Mary and their three sons (one of which was my grandfather) left California and returned to the east coast to live out their lives.

Joan Firth Kaysen, 12/5/2015

My great grandma's house is still standing (and being lived in) in Forest. I love this place!

Debbie Harrold (Forbes), 7/10/2016

What an amazing little ghost town. This place is not only remote and beautiful, but it is home to some amazing history. A hikers dream, a mountain biker's awe experience and an awesome unplugged experience in the Tahoe National Forest.

Mike Harris "The H4 Foundation"., 12/10/2018

I love this place. I spent my summers in Forest during from the mid 60's to late 70's. Forest City has so much history and beauty!! I love and miss it dearly! I was truly blessed as a child to have been able to have summers there and occasionally go up over Christmas vacation in the winter. Can't wait to comeback and visit Forest City.

Tracy Smith, 1/28/2019

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