Category Archives: History

Camp Smoke Creek

Camp Smoke Creek
The camp was located near the cottonwood trees seen in the distance. It is located on private property and is now fenced off.

During the 1860s, the United States Military had a major presence in the region.

On November 9, 1862, Nevada Territorial Governor James W. Nye wrote to Brigadier General George Wright, Commander of the Department of the Pacific, and requested a Company of troops to protects the emigrants from the Indians along the Honey Lake-Humboldt Road. On November 14, 1862, the troops were dispatched. On December 15, 1862, Second Lt. Henry W. Williams arrived at Smoke Creek with twenty-five men and forty days of rations. On March 28, 1864, First Lt. Oscar Jewett, then in command, received orders from Fort Churchill to abandon the camp and to remove all valuable property from the camps as was possible. Continue reading Camp Smoke Creek

Said Valley Reservoir

Said Valley Dam
Collapse of the Said Valley Dam, May 8, 1938. Courtesy of Betty Barry Deal

In September 1885, James W. Shanklin constructed the first reservoir for irrigation and stock purposes at his ranch in Grasshopper Valley. That dam was 25 feet high and 300 feet across. Over the years it had numerous owners. In 1934, it was purchased by George Heath, who became the owner of this reservoir as well as one on nearby Slate Creek. As early as 1929, the State Department of Water Resources stated neither dam was in compliance and requested that spillways be constructed for each reservoir. The winter of 1937-38 was one of the wettest on record for the 20th century and, in Susanville, 33.68 inches of precipitation was measured. On May 8, 1938, the dam at Said Valley breached and caused considerable flood damage. On August 24, 1939, Heath sued Percy L. Castro for $50,000 in damages that were caused by dam failures. It was Heath’s contention that, since Castro leased the reservoirs and his Grasshopper Ranch, it was his duty to install the spillways that the Department of Resources requested. However, during the Department of Water Resources investigation, it was noted that even if the proper spillway had been installed at Said Valley, it would still have failed because of defects in the dam’s original foundation. The court ruled in favor of Castro and stated it was Heath’s responsibility and ordered Heath to pay Castro’s court costs. The dam was rebuilt, albeit on a smaller scale.

Future Posts

Hufford’s Sheep Camp, Eagle Lake, 1921.

Here is a preview of upcoming items for the first half of May. In addition, take a moment to review the Subscribe feature on the upper left corner.

Weather 1924 5/1/15
Atlas Fredonyer 5/2/15
Edsel Dealership 5/3/15
Lassen College 5/4/15
Local Militia 5/5/15
Moon Valley 5/6/15
Toll Roads 5/7/15
Susanville School Names 5/8/15
Asa Fairfield 5/9/15
Hotel Saville 5/10/15
Technology 5/11/15
Neversweats 5/12/15
Lassen Lawnmowers 5/13/15
Lincoln School 5/14/15
Stacy 5/15/15


Unfortunately, not the best photograph of Spoonville.

This was a small town located several miles northeast of Janesville on the way to Standish. In 1897, William E. Spoon established the Honey Lake Creamery near the Missouri Bend School. Spoon also opened a general store and, for a time, it was operated by the Christie Brothers. Thus the nucleus of a town was formed. In 1903, Robert Dunn built the 20-room Spoonville Hotel. On May 29, 1905, Spoon sold his remaining interests there to Ebenezer Cooley Brown, for an undisclosed amount. Though a small town, with less than thirty inhabitants, it was the “corporate” headquarters of the Lassen Mill & Lumber Company, Baxter Creek Irrigation Company and the Pacific Coast Bear Club. Members of the Pacific Coast Bear Club included such dignitaries as President Theodore Roosevelt and Nevada Governor John Sparks. In 1913, the town’s name was changed to Edgemont, as part of a real estate promotion scheme. M.E. “Mul” Mulroney, a native of Spoonville, recalled the town was already in decline and the name change did nothing to correct the situation. In addition, Mul stated that in the early 1920s the second story of the Dunn Hotel was removed and the building was converted into a dance hall. He further stated it was torn down sometime in the 1930s.

Spoonville Map
One afternoon, many yeas ago, Mul Mulroney and I sketched a rough map of Spoonville. B=Barn, C=Creamery and S=School (Missouri Bend)

Robert Stinson

Robert Stinson
Robert Stinson’s grave at the Westwood Cemetery.

In August 2013, I led a Westwood Cemetery tour as part of that community’s centennial celebration. The graves that were highlighted, provided a different aspect to Westwood and the Red River Lumber Company.

Robert Stinson was born in Quincy in 1882, and followed in his father’s footsteps as a commercial photographer. It was a tough trade to operate a business in a rural region. So like many others it became necessary to be itinerate traveling from community to community for business. In 1913, Red River hired Stinson as their company photographer, who at the time was located in Red Bluff. Stinson’s main job was to make a complete photographic inventory of all the buildings being constructed in the town, as well as the sawmill plant. A portion of this collection exists in the T.B. Walker papers housed with the Minnesota Historical Society. Stinson just happened to be at the right place at the right time, when Lassen Peak set off a series of volcanic eruptions beginning in 1914. Unfortunately, for Stinson and other photographers such as P.J. Thompson, are overshadowed by that B.F. Loomis, but that is another story, for another time. Stinson stay at Westwood was brief and left Red River in 1915 to be replaced Otto Kratzer. On a final note, Red River always had an in-house photographer, though they also hired others for commercial work.

Westwood’s First Train

First Train
First train to Westwood, February 21, 1914

When the decision was finally made by the Red River Lumber Company to locate a mill at Mountain Meadows, there was still the obstacle of a railroad. Actually, the selection process was a volatile one, which one can read in Red River: The Early Years. On January 29, 1912, Red River entered into a contract with the Southern Pacific Railroad to construct a 125 mile railroad from Fernley, Nevada to Mountain Meadows, to the town that would be named Westwood. As an incentive, Red River guaranteed the Southern Pacific that all their freight would be handled by this line for a period of five years. In addition, it was understood that once Red River was ready to expand north, the Southern Pacific would extend its line to Klamath Falls, Oregon. However, that is another story, though Red River gave serious consideration to build a second mill near Lookout. Continue reading Westwood’s First Train

Antelope Grade

The Spires
The Spires, Antelope Grade

Antelope Grade first came into existence in 1867 when a crude wagon road was constructed. Crude was a very appropriate term. With the increased population growth in Big Valley, the traveling public clamored for improvements to the grade. In the fall of 1878, the Lassen County Board of Supervisors sent a survey crew to plot a new road on the mountain. The county estimated the cost of the new grade at $1,000. Of that amount individuals had already contributed $300 to the cause. The county budgeted $300. The county stated the balance would have come from donations. A campaign to raise the funds from Big Valley and Hayden Hill provided the balance. By the summer of 1879, most of the work was completed, with volunteer labor making up the workforce.

While new grade was superior to the original one, it was still a narrow, treacherous road. Of course, accidents were a rather common occurrence. In November 1890, for instance, Lewis Knudson was returning to his Willow Creek home accompanied by Dave Thomas. Half way up the grade, they encountered William Brockman’s freight team. Knudson pulled his brand new spring wagon over to the edge of road as safely as possible. As Brockman’s team passed by, it spooked one of Knudson’s horses where the animal bolted and jumped off the grade, dragging the other horse and wagon down the mountain. The sudden jolt, threw Knudson out of the wagon, but fortunately he did not sustain any injuries. However, Dave Thomas was not as lucky. It was not until the wagon crashed into a large boulder that it came to an abrupt stop. At the point of impact, Thomas was thrown from the wagon, his left shoulder struck a rock and was dislocated.

In the mid-1880s, the grade received its first impromptu rest stop. About three-quarters up the grade, after road goes through a narrow canyon passage, dubbed “The Spires” is small level area containing a spring. A water trough was constructed and it provided a nice respite for the traveler and more importantly for their horses.

However, it would not be until the 1940s, when the current grade was built, and stayed tuned for that post.


Karlo, 1920

The Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad (NCO) did a great deal for the development of eastern Lassen County. As a result, a number of communities sprang up, some a mere outpost and others a bit more substantial. However, like the railroad, many in time would fade into oblivion.

In 1899, the (NCO) established a station in Secret Valley. Those residents thought it would become a major shipping point on the NCO, like its recent predecessor, Amedee, but that did not occur. This did not prevent James Sellick from constructing a two-story hotel at the Karlo Station that summer. The station was named for the DeCarlow Brothers—Alonzo Metardus (1868-1949), Charles William, and Walter Henry (1859-1949). Charles W. DeCarlow was the first member of the trio to arrive in Secret Valley when, in 1889, he and H.F. Buhrmeister purchased 200 acres from D.C. Hyer for $2,400. When the station was established in August 1899, there was confusion as to how to spell it. The locals spelled it Carlo, but the railroad clearly indicated it was K-A-R-L-O. The Lassen Advocate noted: “The management of that road seems to have a liking for short names and odd spellings following in the wake of the Postal Department in this respect.”  It is interesting to note the next station the railroad  established was named Termo.

Susanville’s First Deli

The Big Store
Susanville’s The Big Store as it appeared in 1916. Photograph courtesy of the Worley family

In 1866, David Knoch purchased a lot on Main Street for $1,400. This  address would later become known as 722 Main Street, the current home of Margie’s Book Nook since 1995. For the next 76 years three generations of the Knoch family operated the store. The current building was constructed in 1893, though it did received substantial damage from the 1900 fire.

In 1912, Fehr & Worley took over the helm of the general merchandise store, which they renamed the Big Store. Times were rapidly changing with the arrival of the railroad and lumber mills.  In 1919, Fehr & Worley did the first remodel of the building changing its exterior and interior. They also opened a new department inside the store, and a first for Susanville—a delicatessen.

Buggytown Ditch

Buggytown Ditch
Survey crew to enlarge the Buggytown ditch near Johnstonville, 1889. Courtesy of Betty Barry Deal

Originally known as Batcheldor & Adams ditch which portions were constructed in 1858. It later became known as Buggytown ditch, for the area just west of Leavitt Lake in the 1870s. It was so named as one of the first settlers possessed a buggy when such luxuries were rare on the frontier. The ditch/canal is what feeds into Leavitt Lake.