Tag Archives: Natural History

How high is Honey Lake?

Honey Lake, 1984
Honey Lake, February 1984. To the right is the Hartson Sand Ridge. Photograph courtesy of Bob Sorvaag
There is no question that there is a lot of water in Honey Lake. For some it might seem something like a novelty, since the lake has been dry for so long. While levels of Eagle Lake are taken on a monthly basis, that is not the case with Honey. Anyhow, Honey Lake has been a lot higher, than it is presently.

The winter of 1906-07 ushered in a notorious wet cycle. March of 1907 was rather dramatic with over 12 inches precipitation—sometimes in the form and rain, and other times as snow. In January 1911, witnessed the first of two “big snows” wherein Susanville received 8 feet; Standish five feet, Wendel 8 feet. The lake flooded vast sections of land past Standish. This prompted B.F. Gibson of Litchfield to propose a canal from Honey Lake to Pyramid Lake as way to rid the area of excess water.


Eagle Lake, 1915

An Eagle Lake ice cave, circa 1916. Courtesy of Wyn Wachhorst
This spring I wrote about 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. At that time, I mentioned that we examine the material, and with that in mind, here is the first of two installments concerning Eagle Lake. The following is the earliest account concerning the lava beds and ice caves.
“To the west of Spalding lies what is known as the ‘Lava Bed county,” about seven miles long and three or four miles wide. This is the wildest region in this section, and excepting the vegetation, it is almost as when the lava first cooled. It is full of caverns, wells and cracks, one of the latter being five miles long and three to twenty feet wide. In one place it has been sounded to a depth of 160 feet and no bottom found. In this crack there is an ice cave where plenty of ice may be obtained any year until August and some years throughout the entire summer.”


Where are we? The answer

Pine Creek, June 9, 2017
The responses were rather interesting with a near split between Pine and Willow Creek. Yes, it is Pine Creek, taken on June 9, 2017 at the bridge on County Road A-1. Prior to the Brockman Flat Law flow of some 125,000 years, Pine and Willow Creeks were one. A portion of this lava flow extends to the east side of the lake near Bly Tunnel. It created a natural dam, and thus Pine Creek began to flood the area known today as Eagle Lake.


Lassen’s Volcanic Ash

June 1914 Eruption

When Lassen Peak came to life in 1914,  those residing to the east due to prevailing winds had to contend with the volcanic ash fallout. On the morning of May 22 1915, the most dramatic eruption occurred. The mountain was reported to be in a continual state of eruption. At 4:30 p.m. Lassen burst forth in a spectacular display, spewing forth a mushroom cloud of volcanic ash some four miles into the atmosphere. The eruption, recorded as number 174, lasted nearly an hour, dropping ash from the sky all the way east to Winnemucca, Nevada, nearly 300 miles distant. After the big eruption, activity greatly subsided, and for the remainder of the year there were only thirty-four eruptions cited.

Susanville resident, Med Arnold, happened to be fishing at Eagle Lake at the time of the eruption. Arnold stated the whole region was covered with volcanic ash, giving the appearance that it was coated with alkali dust. Arnold further noted enough ash fell from the sky to muddy the lake’s water. Janesville resident Gordon Rice, was optimistic about the situation, stated, “Lassen Peak is good to Lassen County; volcanic ash is a splendid fertilizer.”


Eagle Lake Nature Programs

Pikes Point, Eagle Lake circa 1917. Courtesy of Wyn Wachhorst

Eagle Lake Nature Programs Presents “Snakes at the Lake with Dr. Amanda Sparkman,” Saturday, June 17, 7:00 p.m. Merrill Amphitheater, County Road A1, Eagle Lake, South Shore. (in the event of rain, event will be postponed or canceled).

Eagle Lake Nature Programs kicks off its 2017 Summer Programs with, “Snakes at the Lake with Dr. Amanda Sparkman.” Dr. Sparkman, of Westmont University in Santa Barbara, California, and currently doing field study at Eagle Lake, has been involved in researching Eagle Lake garter snakes since 2005, but the original study of these snakes began 40 years ago. “We’re interested in the ecology and evolution of these snakes, including how they’ve adapted their growth rates, reproduction, lifespan, and behavior to different habitats surrounding Eagle Lake, as well as how they are responding genetically, physiologically, and demographically to current environmental change.” This year it will be particularly interesting to see how or if the increased precipitation has affected the snakes at all. Continue reading Eagle Lake Nature Programs

The Summer Solstice Tour

Sunrise Chamber, 2015

Were you aware that the Belfast petroglyph site also serves as ancient observatory?  This event only occurs on the morning of the summer solstice when the sun enters a chamber highlighting a variety of glyphs, among other things. It is quite the sight to see.

sunrise chamber
The sunrise chamber.

Last year we had a small delegation that made the trek. This is an early morning excursion and I mean early as we gather at 5 a.m. to make the trek. In preparation attendees receive in advance John Rudolph’s paper, “An Ancient Solar Observatory.” If there is enough interest we can make the trip again this year. Please let me know. One final note the solstice occurs on Wednesday, June 21.

On Tuesday, June 20, I will send an email with all the details.  However, if it is overcast there is no sense in going.

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Honey Lake

Honey Lake from Tanner Ranch, March 18, 2017

First of all, I want to thank those who stopped by and checked out Saturday’s Estate Sale.  It should be duly noted that there will be a Phase Two Sale, since there is still more to assort through.

Instead of being at the sale for numerous reasons, I journeyed out to the family (Tanner) ranch to have a glimpse of Honey Lake. There are various features there, that provides a good indicator of the level of the lake.

The blacksmith shop, near the lake, March 18, 2017.

While there is considerable water in the lake, it still has a way to go before it reaches historic levels.  This evident of the above and below photographs, both showing the blacksmith shop.

Honey Lake, from Tanner Ranch, January 1997.

However, for some people, seeing water in Honey Lake is something they have never seen. I am currently working on a future post about the tugboat that was originally used in the San Francisco Bay, that plied the waters of Honey Lake from 1907-1915. In addition, if you want to learn more about the history of the lake, you can purchase a copy of my book Sagebrush Reflections: The History of Amedee and Honey Lake.


Skedaddle Mountain

Honey Lake, 1997
Honey Lake, 1997 with Skedaddle Mountain in the background

Skedaddle Mountain is known to many people for different attributes. Rockhounds enjoy exploring it, just as much as a chukar hunter. Whatever the case may be, many are not aware how it got its name.

Skedaddle was a Civil War term used primarily by Southerners meaning “to flee”. The mountains were named by the Kidder & Ives state line boundary survey crew in 1863. Their formal report stated: “The line crosses Honey Lake Valley east of the lake, about eight miles and thirty-eight chains west of High Rock Spring, from thence over a barren volcanic country to Rush Creek, crossing said creek one quarter of a mile east of Rush Creek Station. Between High Rock Spring and Rush Creek, a small valley, hitherto undiscovered, and named by us Skedaddle Valley, from the following circumstance, viz: On first discovering it we found a number of Pi Utes, of the Smoke Creek Band, who seized their weapons and rushed to the rocks, apparently to give us a warm reception. We immediately signaled them, held a parley, and induced some four of them to visit our camp. I then thought it best, in company with one man, to visit the Indian encampment, leaving orders to retain the Indians in our camp until my return. Soon after arriving at one of their bough houses, where we found several more Indians, we were recalled by one of our men, who stated that those retained in camp had escaped, not heeding the weapons which were aimed at them, but not fired. I then deemed it best to move camp that night, which was done, arriving at Mud Springs [Bull Flat] about twelve o’clock. Luckily, the line had been run the soldiers who went there to hunt the Indians, that there must have been at least fifty camped at that point, and they must have departed almost simultaneously with ourselves. I have consequently named the place Skedaddle Valley, thinking, however, that the victory was on our side, as we captured one gun from the enemy.



Wild Horses

Wild Gatheres
In 1978, the Sierra Club published The Wild Horse Gatherers. It is an illustrated story of BLM’s wild horse round-up locally.

Note: Margie’s Book Nook has received a couple copies of The Wild Horse Gatherers. First come, first serve. There are some other out of print books that the store has recently received.

A hundred years ago, the wild horse population was kept under control by out of work wranglers. During the winter months, it was not unusual for ranches to let go extra help, especially single men. A number of these men, would take a 160 acre desert homestead to make a home, especially properties with unclaimed springs. To make some extra money, they would catch wild horses and break them. By spring they would sell the horses, and pocket the money. Continue reading Wild Horses