From Redding Record Searchlight, Redding, CA
Timber king tribute
Weed namesake honored with a memorial statue
Abner Weed was born in Maine in 1842 and came to California with his wife in 1869, settling in the Truckee area near Lake Tahoe. The family moved to the Mount Shasta region in 1889.
Photo by: John Stubler
ALL IN THE FAMILY:
Seventy-five-year-old Roger Zwanziger works on his ranch outside of Weed that was once owned by his great-grandfather, Abner Weed, who founded the Siskiyou County city that bears his name. The city is getting ready to celebrate its centennial, which includes the unveiling of a statue honoring Abner Weed.
WEED — Abner Weed, who made a name for himself long ago in lumber, will soon be honored in steel.
It's been 100 years since the Maine native founded this Siskiyou County city that bears his name, but he's finally getting a long-deserved statue in his honor.
In fact, it's going to be hard not to see ol' Abner's face all over this community during the coming weeks.
This city of about 3,000 residents is celebrating its centennial Sept. 8-9 and will dedicate a statue in recognition of its namesake, who founded Weed in 1901.
"It's going to be real nice," said 75-year-old Roger Zwanziger, Abner Weed's great-grandson and a former county supervisor who still lives in the ranch house his relative built at the turn of the century.
That's right: This city wasn't named after a notorious plant one smokes or the kind one pulls from a garden.
It was named after Weed, who was born in 1842 and who came to California with his wife in 1869, settling in the Truckee area near Lake Tahoe, according to a brief biography about him provided by the College of the Siskiyous.
The family moved to the Mount Shasta region — then known as Sisson — in 1889.
In 1901, Weed cast his eyes northward, and decided to build a lumber mill where the city of Weed would sprout — like a weed — in the years to follow.
Weed, who later became the city's first postmaster, a Siskiyou County supervisor and a state senator, died in 1917.
Zwanziger, who owns a 1,150-acre alfalfa and cattle ranch off Highway 97, is proud — and a bit humbled — by all the attention being heaped upon his great-grandfather, as well as the rest of the family, as the city prepares to celebrate its centennial.
"As I watched the community get together and work on this, it makes you feel good," Zwanziger said, noting that the statue, as well as a Weed Centennial Plaza project, have been a community effort undertaken by volunteers. "It's been gratifying to see their interest."
The 6-foot-tall statue — as well as the centennial plaza that features a pool, fountain and sculptures highlighting the city's history — will be dedicated at 3 p.m. on Sept. 9, climaxing the weekend centennial celebration, which includes a downtown street fair, car show, golf tournament, barbecue and a variety of exhibits and other attractions.
And Weed's face will be on everything from flags to key chains during the centennial.
For despite this city having a name that some have long considered less than flattering, those who live and work here are proud of its past and present, and they are also optimistic about its future.
One of those is the mayor, Mel Borcalli, a 58-year-old Weed native.
"Weed is my community," she said, admitting that she can get a little "emotional" talking about the city and its people she so dearly loves.
Borcalli, who owns and operates a hardware store with her husband, Dave, has seen this city struggle in bad times and rejoice in good.
Weed, which nearly hit the bottom in the late-1970s and early 1980s with drastic cutbacks and the closing of the International Paper mill, this city's largest employer at the time, is bounding back and is now pumped and primed for the future.
That's because, she said, Weed residents aren't quitters.
"People refuse to allow it to die," she said.
Zwanziger, who called the mill closure a "devastating blow," agrees.
"I see positive things happening," he said, citing plans for the development of South Weed and the proposed construction of a community center as a few examples.
And, he said, there's no place he'd rather be.
"I've never had any thought of leaving," he said. "And I don't ever intend to leave."
Weed, which continues to have blue-collar roots, also has a significant retirement community, including many longtime Weed residents and those who moved here from metropolitan cities seeking a quieter way of life.
Still, Borcalli said the city continues to try to retain existing businesses and attract new industry — such as the Crystal Geyser Co. bottling plant — while also warmly welcoming retirees.
And, she said, she's grateful to be appointed mayor by the City Council as Weed prepares to celebrate its landmark 100th birthday.
"It's a great honor," she said.
Monday, August 6, 2001