By Tim I. Purdy
6×9; 184 pages, illustrated, index, hardcover,
Eagle Lake is California’s second largest natural lake. The first segment of the book focuses on the natural history. A wide variety of issues are examined ranging from dramatic changes in the lake’s level, earthquakes, forest fires, grasshopper invasions, and of course its fishery. Not only is the story told how the famed Eagle Lake trout was saved from extinction, but the tale of the successful introduction of bass during the early 1900s.
The second segment begins with A.W. Blair’s 1872 grandiose scheme to tap Eagle Lake to irrigate the sagebrush lands of Honey Lake Valley. While Blair never did carry out his proposal, he opened the door for others. In 1914, Malvena Gallatin, invited, Leon Bly, a civil engineer to her summer home at Eagle Lake to examine the feasibility of a tunnel. In 1923, Bly’s tunnel was completed and would be the center of many controversies over the next six decades, until it was permanently sealed in 1986.
The third segment deals with the settlement and development of the Eagle Lake basin. Included is the Papoose Meadows Massacre and that of the various settlers such as Dow, Spalding, Troxel, and Stone to name a few. Then, of course, is the story about the Gallatins and their legacy at the lake, to how the lake has developed to its present state.
Lassen County Almanac
An Historical Encyclopedia
By Tim I. Purdy
6×9, 408 pages, illustrated, index, hardcover,
What ever your interest is in Lassen County, this book is for you—your comprehensive A-Z guide [Abbott Gulch to Zamboni Hot Springs]. It’s a fascinating portrait of the history through its place names. But, as the title suggests, its truly an encyclopedia of Lassen County’s heritage. Besides the detailed geographical place name information, there are the histories of the one-room schools and their aftermath. While the county was dotted in these unique educational institutions, nearby were local post offices that serviced the same area, more than seventy in all. In addition, the local vernacular is explored in such terms as Neversweats or significant landmark’s such as Susanville’s Elks Lodge and the unusual like Shoe Trees.
The geographical names reveal interesting aspects about the County’s past, such as Rabbit Basin, in the Madeline Plains region. The homesteaders there encountered numerous problems with rabbits destroying their crops. In 1920, in an effort to eradicate the rabbits, they exported 70 tons of rabbit meat to San Francisco to be used in making tamales. At the same time, features also bear a name of a person or family. Have you ever traveled over Byers Pass, and pondered who was that guy? James Davis Byers (1825-1902) was a prominent figure in his time, and so much so, that when the county was created, it was to be named Byers County, not Lassen!
Then there are the numerous lakes of Lassen, some natural like Blue or man made enterprises like Leavitt. The latter was a part of a successful irrigation enterprise, but accounts of the unsuccessful ones like Lake Greeno are included as well.
Names, too, can be controversial. Before Susanville was named, it was informally known as Roops or Rooptown. In 1857, Roop’s neighbors held an election to name the village Fredonyer City or Nataqua, but the proclamation was ignored and the village was named Susanville in 1858. Yet, in 1911, there was a movement to change the name of town, to give it a more metropolitan flair for marketing purposes. Then jump forward to1995, when there was a controversial movement to rename Fredonyer Pass or even more recently in 2002 the lively debate in changing the name of Emerson Lake Golf Course.
Plus, there are all those ghost towns and railroad stations, that have long faded into oblivion like Amedee, Chat, Constantia, Missouri Bend and Omira, to name a few. Then there were the “dream cities” of Belfast and Honey Lake City that existed on paper and in the creative imaginations of their promoters.
At A Glance
A Susanville History
By Tim I. Purdy
8×11; 207 pages, illustrated, index, hardcover,
Susanville has undergone many changes since that fateful summer of 1854 when Isaac Roop and Company built a trading post on the Nobles Emigrant Trail there.
This is a unique evolutionary history of how Susanville has come to be. There were two significant events to have the most profound impact-fire and the railroad. During the latter 1880s, fire was a persistent problem. In 1893, the town’s entire business district was leveled by fire. Yet, its residents would endure several more blazes until 1900, when the took the matter under control to form the municipality of Susanville as a means to provide fire protection.
Initially, after the City was created, it struggled to provide services, as it had no operating revenue and Lassen County did not help the situation. By the time the City was functioning, the railroad had arrived in 1913.
In several years, E.V. Spencer’s “Sleepy Hollow” as he called the community without a railroad, was transformed into a major lumber manufacturing center with the mills of Lassen Lumber & Box Company and Fruit Growers Supply Company. Years later, two more mills were established the Paul Bunyan Lumber Company and the Susanville Logging Company. In the 1950s, with the decline of the lumber industry eminent, the prison movement was established.
The lumber industry brought prosperity to the region as witnessed by nearly a dozen housing subdivisions surrounding the community, as well as three new schools in three years!
Yet, even before the railroad and the mills, Susanville’s business district was going through its own transformation. The City was instrumental in its passage of controversial Ordinance No. 17 in 1902 that prohibited the construction of wooden buildings in the town’s business district, as a fire preventive measure.
This and other ordinances did not please certain factions in the City. The 1920s saw the City’s first recall election of Trustees Breitwieser and Mathews concerning the paving the streets and cement for sidewalks. There was the underlying issue of gambling that these two men were in favor for as a means to finance City operations. Since the arrival of Prohibition the City lost one-quarter of its revenues from liquor licenses.
While the 1920s roared, the 1930s were far from being dull. One of the pinnacle issues was that of sky high electric rates of the Republic Electric Company. The Lassen County Chamber of Commerce pushed the issue to form a public utility district-Lassen Municipal Utility District. The election for its creation and subsequent operation is a most interesting chapter in the City’s history-after all, the City attempted to take over the Republic Electric Company at the same time.
By the time Word War II arrived the issues of Lassen Municipal Utility District had been resolved, only to be replaced with new problems. The crime rate from the construction of the Sierra Army Depot at Herlong, forced the City to finally increase its police department, to three! The City Jail, on the other hand was woefully inadequate. The post was years brought with it a housing boom. This time too, fire placed another pivotal role in the development of the City. Those fires, in 1947, led to a Greater Susanville through numerous annexation efforts and now the City limits extended from Weatherlow Street all the way to Fairfield .
There are several chapters devoted to other aspects of the community. One chapter provides a brief history of the churches and schools. Another examines a variety of recreational aspects as to how the residents amused themselves over the years. And finally a third chapter explores the extremes in weather the area witnessed such as the flood of 1938.
This fact filled volume covers a lot of territory and interspersed is a lot of interesting trivia, such as the City’s establishment of a speed limit of eight miles per hour in 1902, though the first automobile did not appear on the City’s streets until 1903.