Tag Archives: Modoc County

The Cattleman

The film includes a scene of the hay derrick (above) in action. This photograph is the hay stacking at the Titherington Ranch, near Standish, 1908. Courtesy of Betty Gorbet
The film includes a scene of the hay derrick (above) in action. This photograph is the hay stacking at the Titherington Ranch, near Standish, 1908. Courtesy of Betty Gorbet

Lately, I have been working on my technical skills, which is always an interesting experience for me. Sometimes I succeed, and well on  other occasions I have new challenges.  My goal is put online a historic video, though viewing would only be for paid subscribers.  So if you are experiencing some technical difficulties, the culprit is probably me and working on this feature.

The particular film that I refer to is a short feature of the entire operations of the Vic Christensen ranch near Likely. It was done in 1939 as part of Encyclopedia Britannica’s educational films of the era.  Unlike the 1925 Fruit Growers Supply Company’s film, this one is narrated. Stay tuned.

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Surprise Valley Railroad – Part II

Map of the proposed Surprise Valley Railroad
Map of the proposed Surprise Valley Railroad

In the fall of 1915, Robert Strahorn brought new life to the project. Strahorn had a reputation for developing these type of projects. One of the biggest changes was the line would start at Flanigan, Nevada, on the eastern edge of the Honey Lake Valley and its terminus at Cedarville, California. By the spring of 1916, it appeared real progress had been made with right-of-ways secured from the Department of Interior and many of the landowners. In addition, it was announced that Lakeview, Oregon would be the new terminus. For those familiar with the country the railroad now had the daunting task to to cross the Warner Mountains at Fandango Pass. First a grandiose three-mile tunnel was proposed, but was reduced to a 4,820-foot tunnel, which still alleviated 700 difference from the top of the summit. Continue reading Surprise Valley Railroad – Part II

Clampers Invade Susanville

Neversweat ECV528

On August 4, 1984 some 500 members of the fraternal organization known as E Clampus Vitus descended upon Susanville. The occasion was the chartering of the Neversweat Chapter #1863 of the E Clampus Vitus and the dedication of the Pioneer, the oldest establishment in Northeastern California. The organization has been around since days of the California gold rush, and was a spoof on the more refined fraternal organizations of the day. In the 1930s it went through a revival and focused on marking historical sites and having a good time while doing so. The Neversweat Chapter was not the first for Susanville, as a lodge existed in 1868. In the early 1880s there were several lodges in Modoc County.

Back to that day at hand, the Lassen Advocate summed it by reporting, “By 7:30 a.m. most area residents were awakening for breakfast and routine Saturday tasks, the revelry at the Pioneer was already in full swing. Clampers were 3 to 4 deep at the bar, the beer was flowing and festive mood in the air. The celebrants began arriving at 6:00 a.m. and spilled from the sidewalk into the eastbound lanes of Main Street. Traffic was undoubtedly light during the early morning celebration.”

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Lassen County Fair

logging expo
Red River Lumber Company’s 16 foot big wheels and team with a 2 1/2 ton log at the 1923 Lassen County Fair.

This being Lassen County Fair week, it is only fitting to have an article about the fair.  The first fair was held in 1878, a regional one that comprised the residents of Lassen, Modoc and Plumas Counties.  While it was desirous to make it an annual event it was fraught with financial problems.

What we consider the current Lassen County Fair was established in 1922, with five men who organized it. At that time major changes had taken place in the county with the establishment of three large lumber mills–Fruit Growers Supply Company, Lassen Lumber & Box Company and the Red River Lumber Company.  Lumber was now king in Lassen County. Besides the traditional horse racing and such, a new feature was added to reflect the community at large, the logging shows. This was a big attraction for the Lassen County Fair for over seventy years, though with the dwindling decline of the lumber industry, this feature was eventually cancelled.

However, in 1923, the first logging exhibition at the Lassen County Fair was certainly noteworthy. For many attendees it was the first time they were able to witness the current logging methods of the “big wheels.”  The Fruit Growers Supply Company won top honors in this category. It should be noted by 1927, the lumber companies began phasing out the “big wheels” for the motorized Caterpillar traction engines.

A full story how the Lassen County Fair has evolved since 1878 can be found in the latest issue of the California Traveler.

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Adin, Modoc County

Adin, 1888. Courtesy of Delbert & Diane Poole.
Adin, 1888. Courtesy of Delbert & Diane Poole.

Located just a mile north of the Lassen County line in Modoc County, Adin benefited from Lassen County’s largest mining town of Hayden Hill, located twelves miles to the south.

As a matter of fact in the same year that Adin was founded in 1869, gold was discovered at Hayden Hill. It should be noted that one of Adin’s founders and its namesake, Adin McDowell, was a member of the prospecting party that discovered the gold at Hayden Hill.

When times were good at Hayden Hill, they were even better at Adin. By 1877, Adin was the largest town in Modoc County. In addition, it was only second to Susanville in the amount of business transactions conducted in Northeastern California.

For more information about the story of Adin, see this month’s issue of the Northern California Traveler.

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Sylvester Daniels

Sylvester Daniels. Courtesy of Jean Gorzell
Sylvester Daniels. Courtesy of Jean Gorzell

Long after the excitement of the gold rush, people were still lured to California. Numerous reports published back east extolled the health benefits of the golden state’s climate. In the spring of 1874, Iowa resident Sylvester Daniels ventured to the Honey Lake Valley to visit his sister, Polly Parks, and see if the change in climate might be beneficial to him. Like many in that era, Sylvester kept a journal. His journals were different in the sense, as he kept a record of his experiences so he could send them back to his fifteen-year-old daughter, Viroqua. Continue reading Sylvester Daniels

Sacred Heart Parish Established

Parish Register front page with writings by Father P.J. O'Rielly
Parish Register front page with writings by Father P.J. O’Reilly

In the fall of 1911 the Sacramento Diocese created a new parish from the Truckee Parish to be known as Sacred Heart. It would encompass two counties—Lassen and Modoc—a region comprising some 8,500 square miles (equivalent to size of the State of Maryland).

Father Philip J. O’Reilly was the first priest assigned arriving from Marysville. Father O’Reilly first established residence at Alturas, were a parish briefly existed in the 1880s. On December 17, 1911, Father O’Reilly held his first Mass in Susanville, and brought welcomed news that Mass would be held in Susanville on the last Sunday of each month. It should be noted that prior to this, Mass was held maybe once or twice a year, with Father Thomas Horgan riding circuit over a five county area making a 600 mile round trip.

On January 2, 1912, Father O’Reilly chose the date to open the Parish of Sacred Heart. He marked the event when he inscribed it by writing in front of the Baptismal, Marriage and Death Registers. He would later write in each one, that on December 2, 1915, Modoc County became a separate parish, except for Likely, which was added to Modoc exactly a year later.

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Cedarville, 1879

In my very first post about Adin, it initially starts out concerning the works of photographer Herman Brince. After leaving Adin, Brince toured Modoc County and provides us with a glimpse of what Cedarville looked like then.

Cedarville, 1879

Cedarville’s humble beginnings began in the fall of 1865 when James Townsend built a cabin and commenced operations of a general store. His tenure was brief, for a year later in pursuit of some stolen livestock he was killed in a skirmish with the Indians. The following summer (1867), two enterprising entrepreneurs, John H. Bonner and William T. Cressler established a store there to become very successful businessmen there. They eventually bought Townsend’s cabin for their store. They went one step further and plotted out a town they named Cedarville after Bonner’s home town in Ohio.

Note: This article originally appeared on March 13. I am selecting some early posts, to fill in while I am on the road to recovery. For five dollars by, you can receive a daily email on that day’s topic, and in doing so, help preserve a bit of history.