Town of two is sold

Butte County community of Pulga goes for $499,000

Lorraine Paloma and Fred Leidecker are saying goodbye to Pulga—the town Paloma owned for 21 years.

Lorraine Paloma and Fred Leidecker are saying goodbye to Pulga—the town Paloma owned for 21 years.

With a population of two, Pulga is small-town living in the extreme. It’s been home to property owner Lorraine Paloma and her longtime friend and companion, Fred Leidecker, for more than 20 years.

Last October Paloma, 75, put the 62-acre property and its rustic charm on the market. A buyer in Minneapolis recently offered the full asking price of $499,000. Once escrow is completed, Paloma and Leidecker will move out, leaving behind two decades of memories and a lifestyle that is one part charm, but another part hard labor.

“Being the owner of a town sounds great, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be,” said Paloma, who purchased the property in 1994. “It’s a lot of work.”

Tucked inside the Plumas National Forest about 8 miles east of Concow, Pulga sits on unincorporated land inside Butte County and is located on a dirt road approximately a mile off Highway 70 just east of the iconic Pulga Bridges. The town was founded by William King in 1885. His family started a sawmill and lived off the land, which included tapping into the fresh water that flowed through creeks from the Feather River.

In the 1930s and ’40s Pulga became a community of several hundred. People were lured to the area by the jade mines and offered work on the highway and railroad, which still runs today. There’s running water and electricity for four of the 11 structures that remain in habitable condition. Others were destroyed by falling trees, floods and mudslides and some simply wore down over time.

Pulga’s natural beauty of mountains, trees and flowing creeks belies the town’s rather ugly name. Pulga is Spanish for “flea” and comes from the Flea Valley Creek that runs along the main road behind the town’s primary residence.

Until recently, Leidecker used the property as a kind of sanctuary for those who came to him for his expertise in hypnotherapy, as it was home to the Mystic Valley Retreat and School of Hypnotism.

“I’ll miss the trees, the water, the quietness and the ambiance,” said the 76-year-old Leidecker. “I’ll miss all of it.”

He and Paloma also will miss the iconic postcard-like Pulga Bridges that can be seen from their property. They provide highway and railroad crossings over the North Fork of the Feather River, and are frequently photographed and replicated by model train collectors worldwide.

They’ll leave behind an old schoolhouse, bathhouse and cabins—all of which are encased inside a gorgeous natural setting that includes fresh spring water from a creek that runs alongside the town’s main road.

“Maybe the best part is the spring water,” said Paloma. “When you go into any other town and they serve you water, it tastes terrible. This water is perfect.”

Ray Vindhurst, a realtor with Century 21 in Paradise, sold Paloma the property 21 years ago. He said there was considerable interest in the property, which is why he got a full-price offer of $499,000.

“There are so many TV shows about living off the grid, gardening, living in the outdoors and catching fish,” he said. “It’s all here.”

But like the buildings themselves, Paloma and Leidecker are gaining in years, and say it’s time to walk away and start a new life in an old place. Once escrow closes, they’ll return to the Bay Area, where they lived before their adventure in Pulga began.

The new owners, assuming escrow closes, have yet to specify what their plans are for the property.

Jerry Olenyn is a reporter for KRCR News Channel 7.