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The riverfront town of Red Bluff, now a magnet for most of the population of Tehama County, was once the lonely campsite of rancher Peter Lassen, who ventured here from his Mexican land grant while chasing horse thieves in 1843. A few years later, masses of humanity and tons of material floated past those red banks that rise high above the Sacramento River, the state's earliest highway, supplying the Sierra gold fields. Red Bluff, first known as Duncan Heights, had a busy port and nearby logging operations generating enough wealth to fund rows of substantial brick, two-story commercial buildings and neighborhoods of ornate Italianate and Queen Anne homes, many of which still stand.