Howland Flat

Once a thriving community with some 1,500 people, an 1873 Sierra County business directory for Howland Flat includes three saloons, three merchandise stores, a barber, boot maker, stables, the North Star Hotel, and Frank Becker's Howland Flat Brewery.  The community also was home to a school, church, Odd Fellows Hall, as well as a Wells Fargo Express Office.  The post office located in the community carried the name and postmark of "Table Rock", named after the prominent peak to the east of town.  

Today, the site of Howland Flat includes the remains of just a few buildings, the crumbling stone walls of the Wells Fargo Express Office, and most prominently, the town's surviving cemetery.  Located in a remote area of Sierra County known locally as "Over North" due to its distance and compass direction from the Sierra County seat of Downieville, this area of Sierra County was known for a number of early mining towns with colorful names such as Poker Flat, Whiskey Diggins, Poverty Hill, and Port Wine.  As most of these towns supported hydraulic mining diggings, the scars of those mining operations can still be seen in adjacent forested canyons. 

Howland Flat is accessible via two different gravel and dirt roads that originate from La Porte and  are passable via passenger cars, however, high clearance vehicles are recommended.  Other ghost towns of Northern Sierra County are accessible only via 4WD vehicles.  As all of these communities are quite remote with no services nearby and no cell coverage, know your destination and advise someone of that destination, route, and scheduled return time.


Latitude: 39.7187412 Longitude: -120.8936405 Elevation: 5448 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Lee Adams

Time Period Represented

1850s to 1900

Visitor Fees

No fee; public national forest lands.

Seasons Open

Year round. However, snow can make the area inaccessible except by over snow vehicle.


Thank you for the beautiful picture of our mine, looking south over the pit toward our waterfall in the mid distance. Nice pic. It's called the Lady Be Lucky, formerly known as Dirty Del's, the Wehrle Pit, the Loftus Blue Lead and the Midas.

David Howard, 5/15/2012

The picture and info. of Howland Flat helps me visualise the area where my immigrant ancestors, Aaron Todd and family lived. and died 1900/1910. Is there a cemetery and list of obituaries?

Joe Fletcher living in England, 2/28/2013

For Mr. Howard in England; We recently explored the town and plan to return. We learned from nearby townsfolk that a lot of people of Howland Flat died from influenza. If we return, we will try to find your ancestor's plot and post pictures.

B.Cantrell, 8/29/2013 I just went here yesterday and took several pictures of the 1st cemetery. There are 3 from what I have read and a grave by the Wink Eye Mine. If you want, email me and I can forward you some pics. If you have a name, I can send you the pics specific to that grave marker. I took pics of each grave marker and will be submitting my information to very soon!

Jeff Olson, 3/14/2014

Jeff Olson, I am looking for anyone with the surname Brown who came from Missouri. That may be my great great grandmother's family. She married my 2nd great grandmother at age 14 in 1869 in Port Wine near Howland Flat. I can find no information about her family either in California or Missouri online. Any help appreciated.

Dennis Olivarez, 7/13/2017

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