Shasta is an unincorporated community in Shasta County, California. A bustling town of the 1850s through the 1880s, Shasta was for its time, the largest settlement in Shasta County and the surrounding area. Sometimes referred to today as "Old Shasta", the town was an important commercial center and a major shipping point for mule trains and stagecoaches serving the mining towns and later settlements of northern California. The discovery of gold near Shasta in 1849 brought California Gold Rush-era Forty-Niners up the Siskiyou Trail in search of riches - most passed through Shasta, and continued to use it as base of operations.
Situated about six miles (10 km) west of Redding, California along Highway 299, Shasta was once home to some 3,500 residents and a thriving commercial district. However, in the mid-1880s, the newly-constructed Central Pacific Railroad bypassed Shasta, in favor of Redding and the town declined into "ghost town" status.
The site of the town is now a California state historical park called Shasta State Historic Park, containing many of the original 1850s-era brick buildings, partially restored. Shasta is now a town of 750 people with the ruins of the gold mining town, a post office, a church, an elementary school, the oldest Masonic lodge in California, and a store.
The poet Joaquin Miller refers to Shasta in his 1870s novel, Life Amongst the Modocs, based on the experiences of Miller as a young man living in the area in the 1850s. In this book, Miller describes his brief imprisonment in a Shasta jail for horse-stealing and subsequent escape with the aid of his Native American wife.
The US Census Bureau does not define a place called Shasta, California. However, the census does define the ZCTA (ZIP code tabulation area) for ZIP code 96087, which encompasses the entire community and has a very small square mileage, only 11.6 square miles (30 km2) or 30 square kilometers. As of the census of 2000, there were 524 people, 436 households, and 367 families residing in 96087. The population density was 45.2 people per square mile (127.4/km²). There were 234 housing units at an average density of 17.5/sq mi (45.7/km²). The racial makeup of 96087 was 93.32% White, 0.56% African American, 0% Native American, 0.38% Asian, 1.14% from other races, and 0.6% from two or more races.
96087 will most likely expand to possibly 50 or more square miles to cover more addresses currently using 96001 because Redding will have too many people sharing one zip code. The community of Keswick which currently uses Shasta for PO boxes will use it for street addresses as well. If that happens, the same borders currently used in the zip code will be used to define Shasta as a CDP at the 2010 Census.
Shasta is covered by the area code 530.
In the state legislature Shasta is located in the 4th Senate District, represented by Republican Sam Aanestad, and in the 2nd Assembly District, represented by Republican Doug LaMalfa. Federally, Shasta is located in California's 2nd congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +13 and is represented by Republican Wally Herger.