Timbuctoo Bridge on the south bank of the Yuba River. Photo by queerbychoice. Timbuctoo is a ghost town in eastern Yuba County. Timbuctoo is located on the south bank of the Yuba River, north of Highway 20, approximately one mile southeast of the Timbuctoo Bridge on the Yuba River. It is located across the river from Parks Bar, northwest of Smartsville, and northeast of Hammonton.

The U.S. Postal Service sometimes lists addresses in Timbuctoo as being in Smartsville, because they are both in the 95977 zip code. However, on the Yuba-Sutter Wiki, we prefer listing the more specific location Timbuctoo.

Wells Fargo building ruins at Timbuctoo. Photo by Lane Parker.



Timbuctoo was officially founded in 1855, and a post office opened there in 1858. It is said to have been named by or for an African-American gold miner who came there from Timbuktu in Mali. Timbuctoo was once the largest town in eastern Yuba County.1

The History of Yuba County, California (Chapter XXVII: Rose Bar Township) by Thompson & West, 1879, described Timbuctoo this way:

The first mining was done in the ravines about Timbuctoo in 1850; William Monigan, who had a store at Rose Bar in 1850, was one of the first to work here. A negro was working in one of the ravines, and from this fact the ravine near town was christened Timbuctoo by William Monigan and L. B. Clark. A number of cabins were early built in the vicinity, but the first house was erected by William Gregory, early in 1855. It still stands just east of the post-office. A hotel was built in February, 1855, by Jacob Dufford. It stood across the road from the post-office, and was burned in the fire of June, 1878. Timbuctoo was the largest and most thriving locality in the township in 1859. At that time there were two hotels, six boarding houses, eight saloons in addition to the bars in the hotels and boarding houses, one bank, one drug store, two general stores, three clothing and dry good stores, three shoe shops, one blacksmith shop, two carpenter shops, one lumber yard, one livery stable, one barber shop, three bakeries, two tobacco and cigar stores, one church, and one theater. Another hotel was built in 1861, and a school house in 1862. The vote of this precinct was at its highest about eight hundred, and the total population about twelve hundred. In 1859, a union church was built by subscriptions of the citizens and a saloon was remodeled for this purpose. The Methodist Episcopal denomination was the only one that had a regular organization. In 1878, the church was sold, torn down, and the materials used in the construction of a barn. In 1859, a fine wooden theater with a brick basement was erected. It had a seating capacity of eight hundred, and was frequently occupied by traveling companies. The old ruin still stands on the north side of the road, and is now occupied by Chinamen. The first school at Timbuctoo was kept by a Mr. Potter in 1856. The public school house was built in 1862. In 1873, it was moved to Smartsville, and joined to the one at that place. The cemetery, lying just west of the place, was started in 1855. The first burial was that of the three men shot by Jim Webster in 1855. It was fenced in two years later. In Jun 1878, a fire destroyed the post office, a meat market, saloon, the first hotel, and several dwellings. The population is at present about two hundred whites and one hundred and fifty Chinese. A. W. Thorp is post-master, and keeps a saloon and small stock of varieties. Besides this, there are one small general store, four Chinese stores, one Chinese wash house, and about thirty dwelling houses.

Cotton Rosser's annual Marysville Stampede and Flying U Rodeo has sometimes (beginning in 1994) included an event called the Twin City Slickers Cattle Drive, which began in Timbuctoo and involved four to five days of driving cattle into Beale Air Force Base, Linda, Marysville, and Yuba City.


April: Smartsville-Timbuctoo Pioneer Day


Main Roads


Timbuctoo entry on Wikipedia




1. Timbuctoo entry on Wikipedia