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Fort Bidwell: Loneliest place in California to get a good steak!

A Bartell's Backroads adventure to the northeastern-most town in California.

FORT BIDWELL, Calif. — If you are looking to get away from it all, Fort Bidwell is the place. 

It is located in the far reaches Modoc County’s Surprise Valley, and this little town is about as quiet as it gets. There are more cows than people. 

There's no need for a map in this town. If you are looking for a church, go down Church Street. Want to know where the old bridge is? Turn on Bridge Street. If someone says meet me at the willow bush, you guessed it. It’s on Willow Street. 

They are very literal with their names in Fort Bidwell.

There are a number of abandoned buildings around town but rest assured that people do live here, and if you are looking for a bit to eat, stop into the Fort Bidwell Hotel and Restaurant for their famous steak dinner. 

Head cook Peter Newell and baker Krystal Whittaker say the beef comes straight from a pasture on the other side of town. 

“If someone was to tell you to start a restaurant, this would be the last place they’d tell to start it, but we do pretty good,” Newell said.

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After your steak dinner, enjoy the charm of the old hotel. Photos and antiques from Fort Bidwell’s past are all over the place, and if you ask Newell, he’ll give you a rough history lesson. 

The fort was established closer to 1865 and was named after General John Bidwell. The soldiers stationed here were protecting pioneers on the Apple Gate Trail from dangers on the frontier. 

The troops also fought in the Modoc War, California’s last war against Native Americans. In 1890, Fort Bidwell became an Indian Reservation and it has been ever since. 

If you come up in the spring, you can witness the annual Squirrel Wars hunting competition. The little rodents eat up farmers' crops and Modoc County is infested with them. Poison isn’t an option so the best way to manage the population is to hunt them. 

“They are basically target practice,” Newell said.

HIT THE BACKROADS:  Summer is almost here! Plan your ultimate road trip with John Bartell's list of California's top 10 destinations to visit.

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