The early 1890s were lively times in the Honey Lake Valley. There were numerous enterprises constructing dams every where to create McCoy Flat reservoir, Hog Flat reservoir, Ward Lake, Skedaddle dam and Lake Greeno. Let us not forget the biggie, the tapping of Eagle Lake.
Adding to all this was Amedee an instant railroad boom located on the eastern shore of Honey Lake. In the spring of 1892, Charles Teague and H.B. Griffith formed the Amedee Yacht Club. S.N. “Mac” Sample had the first boat which received extensive use. On its maiden voyage in the spring of 1892 had a crew of of George Clark, captain; S.N. Griffith, commodore; E.C. Brown and L.W. Brubeck, mates and Jake Yanner, engineer.
The Amedee Yacht Club even had a backup plan should Honey Lake reach a point that if it got too low for the boats. The club cited with all the reservoirs being constructed that there would be times that the water from Eagle Lake would not be need for irrigation, and that water could be used fill up Honey Lake for sailing purposes.
The Smoke Creek Ranch is one of the oldest ranches in Nevada, first settled by T.T. Kingsbury on May 30, 1857. It is also one that I have not had the best of luck finding information, so I am doing this post to see if anything surfaces. During the late 1800s it was owned by the Winters family of Washoe Valley. They even acquired the Shinn Ranch and George Winters planted the cottonwood grove there. One of the next owners were the Pon Brothers. I was recently in contact with some Pon descendants but they had no information. Then there was Patrick Flanigan and Rees T. Jenkins outfit among others. In 1949, Albert Freeman, then owner of the Smoke Creek Ranch, had the reservoir constructed. If anyone can enlighten me and others about this place, I would truly appreciate it.
In the early 1900s, locally, businesses as well as fraternal organizations incorporated as a means to raise funds. A perfect example was that of the Standish Hall Association. Incorporated in 1908, it financed a two-story building in Standish. Typical of the era, the second floor was used as a hall for fraternal organizations. The first floor, of course, was rented to commercial enterprises, with those proceeds used to maintain the building, etc.
The Standish Hall still exists in a state of arrested decay and better known to many as the former home of Neil’s Mercantile.
On March 3, 1853, the United States Congress passed the first Act for surveys of a transcontinental railroad route. During the next two years, government survey parties explored the West looking for feasible routes. Lieutenant E. G. Beckwith was in charge of one of those expeditions. Beckwith surveyed Northern California and Western Nevada in search of a pass over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. On July 3, 1854, Beckwith’s party discovered Eagle Lake. Beckwith wrote: “. . . soon after leaving our morning camp, the road led over a low rocky butte, from which we had a fine view of the lake, a few miles to the northeast. It is several miles in extent and is set beautifully blue in the mountains, which rise from 500 to 1,000 feet above it, covered with majestic pines. It has no outlet. We gave it the name of Eagle Lake.”
Local folklore is that the lake was misnamed for the ospreys, that are abundant at the lake, and that the ospreys were mistaken for eagles. That is doubtful, since the bald eagle population of the 1850s was much greater than it is today. It must also be taken into account that the early day explorers and settlers, too, were keenly aware of the variety of species of birds and animals. To substantiate the fact that the lake’s name was not a misnomer for the osprey, there are accounts in the 1920s by field scientists who asked the same question of the “old timers”, who replied that it was named for the bald eagles.
There have been several comments posted last year, that a short sentence would not suffice, so I will slowly start responding. One reader wanted to know the status of Eagle Lake’s Gallatin House. Malvena Gallatin spent the Christmas of 1944 there and it would be her last visit. When she passed away in 1956, she left the two-acre parcel to her only great-grandchild, Wyn Wachhorst. When Wyn visited the place once in the 1960s the “Gallatin furniture was piled high inside,” but no one ever used it. In 1975, it was sold to the Lassen National Forest.
In the mid-1980s, Lassen National Forest Supervisor Dick Henry wanted to demolish the structure. Needless to say the battle line was drawn. The late Valerie Campbell and myself began a campaign to save Gallatin House. I will spare everyone the details, but in the end we along with so many others who fought to preserve prevailed. In 1988, the forest service issued a use permit to thirty-five acres, which includes Gallatin House for Camp Ronald McDonald at Eagle Lake. The Gallatin House has been maintained and used for administration purposes and two front rooms are intact just as it was back in the day when Gallatin’s owned it.
While I have been busy with the end of the year chores, like filing, not one of my favorite tasks. Anyhow, I came across this particular photograph of the construction of the Bly Tunnel inlet at Eagle Lake that my grandmother Lola Murrer Tanner. Hopefully, in 2018 I will be able to get out and about more, and even visit this site, which has been sealed and covered with the tailings from the construction.
Lassen Mail – March 14, 1930 – Wendel Promises A Big Boom
Shades of the days of forty nine or of the oil fields are about to be created and materialize in the near future if current rumor and certain things that are more then rumor prove to be true. The scene of the séance is to be at Wendel, and from the evidence it is a good place to hold one.
There is much to be said in favor of Wendel. During the past week there have been eighteen engines in one day, three new men added to the force in the roundhouse, and an extra telegraph operator put on. Everything indicates a big boom which will do its booming in the near future.
Certain people may prefer to scoff at Wendel as a possible metropolis of the plains, but the fact that there is more than sagebrush down there has been proven throughout the past two weeks. There is a good future in Wendel, and farsighted people will soon be watching this place to see what happens.
My grandmother Purdy was an avid rock hound, so I experienced some interesting outings as a child. One of these adventures was to the Apache tears mine in the Smoke Creek Desert. The mine dates back to World War I when Smoke Creek resident Gordon Mott while exploring a small canyon came across a mica deposit. He developed a tunnel and a vertical shaft hoping that he would find gold. What he did find was small pieces of obsidian embedded in the soft mica, sometimes referred to as Apache tears or Black Diamonds.
Awhile back I received an inquiry about the status of my research on the Western Pacific’s Highline. For those not familiar it is a 200 mile stretch of railroad between Keddie, California to Klamath Falls, Oregon. Western Pacific would construct a 112 mile stretch from Keddie to Bieber, Lassen County. The Great Northern Railroad would construct the segment from Klamath Falls to Bieber. The rail line was completed in November 1931 with a golden spike ceremony at Bieber.
As to the question at hand, the project literally got derailed. In future posts, however, we will explore some of the history of this line, which someone Western Pacific’s dubbed the line the Mountain View Route, but it was never adopted.
Are dry Decembers a prelude to a dry winter? Record snowfalls occur in January, and some times the preceding December was drier than normal and some times not. I will share a bit wisdom. As a young naive lad, I once asked my Uncle Bob Rea what his winter prediction. His reply, “I will tell you in March.”