Tag Archives: Natural History

Eagle Lake – Pelican Point

United States Government Land Office survey map.
There are times when I am doing research I get sidetracked. In a particular instance recently resulted in an interesting revelation concerning Pelican Point at Eagle Lake. For a long time the point did not exist, though there was a Pelican Island of sorts. As you can see the above of the Government Land Office survey map of 1875, there is no Pelican Point. At that time the lake level as 5109. In 1917 began the twenty-year drought, combined with the Bly Tunnel, the lake level dropped dramatically, which resulted in the exposure of Pelican Point for the first time since Anglo settlement.


Susan River, 1899

Susan River, 1899. Courtesy of Philip S. Hall
As the Bizz Johnson Trail, formerly the Fernley & Lassen Railroad, is popular with locals and out-of-towners, alike, I thought some might enjoy today’s photograph. This was taken below Hobo Camp in 1899 prior to the railroad’s construction through there in 1913. The flume carried water to the Arnold Ditch would power the Arnold Planing Mill at the Richmond Road Bridge.


Ramhorn Springs

Entrance to Ramhorn Campground
Ramhorn Springs and Campground is located a sort distance east of Highway 395 between Secret Valley and the Madeline Plains. I was told recently, and I do not know if it is a fact, that the springs dried up in the recent drought. Anyhow, bighorn sheep once roamed much of eastern Lassen County. In 1881, Lum Roberts killed one on Skedaddle Mountain that weighed 200 pounds! In the early 1920s, only one band of sheep, consisting of about forty head, remained on Observation Mountain, not that far from Ramhorn Springs. The majority of that herd perished in the winter of 1922. Lassen County Game Warden, C.O. Fisher, noted that only six sheep were still alive at Observation in 1927 and by 1931 it was deemed that the sheep were extinct in the region.


The high and low of Lassen County

Pitt River School, near Pittville, 1916. Courtesy of D.M. Durst
Lassen County covers 4,690 square miles and that is a lot of territory. Not only that, is the diversity of terrain. With that in mind here is a little bit of trivia. The highest point in Lassen County is that of Hat Mountain in the northeast corner of the county at an elevation of 8,737 feet. The lowest point which is in the northwest portion of the county is Pittville on the Lassen-Shasta County line at an elevation of 3,270 feet.


Mount Lassen vs. Lassen Peak

1917 eruption of Lassen Peak.
Call it what ever you may, and most people will refer to it as at Mount Lassen, though it is officially Lassen Peak. It does get confusing especially since so many of the prominent points of the Cascade Range have the appellation of Mount, i.e., Hood, Ranier and Shasta. When Lassen came into national prominence during its notable eruptions of 1914-15, it prompted the United States Board of Geographic Names to resolve the name issue. On June 2, 1915, the board officially named it Lassen Peak. But not everyone embraced the official designation. For example in 1917, when the peak had another eruption, E.W. Hayden of Susanville’s Lassen Advocate wrote, “Old Mount Lassen (we’ll call it Mount, if we want to) had another tremendous eruption of steam, smoke and ashes on Wednesday, and the display is regarded as one of the greatest since it ‘came back’ as a volcano.”


1918 Solar Eclipse

Main Street, Susanville, 1918.
While Monday’s eclipse is still fresh in most people’s memory, the 1918 eclipse was very similar across the United States. Locally, the Lassen Advocate newspaper of June 14, 1918 reported: The eclipse came on time last Saturday and smoked glasses—and noses—were in evidence. The Advocate force was too busy to take more than a squint at the phenomenon and consequently you know as much about it as they do.


The 1889 Solar Eclipse

My apologies for a newspaper clipping, but I was never able to obtain my print of the photograph back for the above press release, done way before scanners, etc.
You would nearly have to be hermit living off the grid to escape all the coverage about today’s eclipse. One of the best places to view the solar eclipse of January 1, 1889 was the Honey Lake Valley. On that date, the NCO Railroad (then the N&C) ran a special excursion train from Reno to its new terminus of Liegan (near present day Herlong) to view the eclipse. Forty people took advantage of the offer.



Pelicans at Eagle Lake, circa 1915. Courtesy of Wyn Wachhorst
Yesterday’s post concerned the abundance of wildlife, a sportsman’s dream of the conditions in 1915. Of course, that was promotional literature aimed at enticing visitors to the region. There was one creature hated by the fishermen—the pelicans. Many believe that pelicans and their appetite for fish are harmful to fisheries. By the 1880s, fishermen at Eagle Lake waged war with the pelicans, to slaughter as many as possible. In 1927, after the enlargement of Lake Almanor, pelicans gathered at that of body of water, too, and endured same hatred that occurred at Eagle Lake.

Fish & Game, 1915

An Eagle Lake “catch,” 1916. Courtesy of Wyn Wachhorst
This is a continuation of excerpts from spring the pamphlet entitled Lucky Land of Lassen that was produced and distributed at the Panama Pacific International Exposition that was held in San Francisco during 1915.

“It is well known fact that Lassen County offers the sportsman the greatest hunting and fishing in the West today. In the mountains are to be found the mule-tail and black-tail deer, grouse, quail and an occasional black or brown bear. In the valleys are to be found the sage hen, quail, doves, ducks, geese, rabbits, etc., and in the mountain streams and lakes one may find ideal fishing, varying from brook trout to black bass, weighing as much as ten pounds.”


Poison Lake Revisited

Poison Lake
Poison Lake, 1916
I originally posted this back on March 27, 2015 and it received a number of comments. The original post: A shallow lake with water that was found to be unfit to drink by the emigrants on the Lassen Trail. The travelers also found that Lassen’s Trail was not “fit” for travel either. In 1916, it was part of the Honey Lake Valley Irrigation District’s scheme to tap into this and other lakes and small streams, to transport it all the way to the east side of Honey Lake for reclamation purposes.

On October 21, 2015 Jake Martin an archaeologist for the Eagle Lake Ranger District wrote: I use your Lassen County Almanac all the time to supplement my report writing with historical information! In the past I have run across an interesting note about the etymology of Poison Lake. This was found within the journal of Gorham Gates Kimball who was driving sheep to Idaho [in 1865], annotated by Edward N. Wentworth. It mentioned that Poison Lake ‘was so named from the effect of the bites of small red spiders which frequented the surface of the water.’ Apparently, merely washing your face and hands was enough to receive bites and experience red inflammation.

Unfortunately, my copy of that sheep drive has no reference to Poison Lake. It does make reference to being attacked by horse flies along Pine Creek.