Tag Archives: Nevada

Lassen County’s First Zoo

Elk, with the Wingfield residence in the background. Courtesy of Alphozene Terrill
Elk, with the Wingfield residence in the background. Courtesy of Alphozene Terrill

In 1910, George Wingfield established a summer residence south of Susanville, and more about that in a future article. He had a special interest in wildlife and established his own little preserve. That fall, he fenced off eighty acres for an elk and deer park. In 1914, he added four buffalo to his collection. This became a major attraction to local residents to view these creatures.

Wingfield also brought in such “exotic” species as peacocks and mammoth size frogs imported from New Orleans. He had two small lakes constructed on the property to plant with a wide variety of fish.

Where the buffalo and elk roam at Wingfield Ranch. Courtesy of Lola L. Tanner
Where the buffalo and elk roam at Wingfield Ranch. Courtesy of Lola L. Tanner

In 1923 Wingfield sold the property to the Lassen Lumber & Box Company who were primarily interested in the timberland he owned there. The buffalo were shipped to Wingfield Park in Reno where they were on display for many years. The fenced enclosure to keep the elk in was no longer maintained and the animals began to roam the region, with spottings from nearby Bald Mountain to Willow Creek Valley. The elk were poached by hunters over the years, and were wiped out by the early 1940s.

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Ramelli Dairy

Ramelli butter wrapper. Courtesy of Eslie Cann
Ramelli butter wrapper. Courtesy of Eslie Cann

In 1887, Cesar A. Ramelli emigrated from Switzerland to the United States where he eventually located at Purdy, Long Valley, California. The area is best known to many as the region behind present day Bordertown. There, and later, with another location the Bella Vista in the Truckee Meadows, he along with his three sons, had seventy-five cows. From that herd, butter and cheese were made. The cheese was made into blocks of 10, 20 to 25 pounds which was sold in the Reno stores.

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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

Smoke Creek Desert

Smoke Creek Desert
Smoke Creek Desert looking towards Sheepshead, fall, 1977

Just across the border lies this most interesting desert. It is a favorite of mine, so rich in history. It received its name back in 1844 when John C. Fremont explored the region. His party noted the dust storms created on the playa there cast a smokey hue.

Fremont was not the only explorer to the desert, as he was followed by William H. Nobles who created a new emigrant road that traversed Smoke Creek—it was a direct route to the Northern California mines. In 1865, the military established Fort Bidwell in Surprise Valley. The military plotted an unusual supply route that went along the west side of the Smoke Creek Desert and then followed Smoke Creek in a haphazard manner to Surprise Valley. This route was far from ideal, which was replaced by route through Buffalo Meadows. Traffic would diminish significantly when in 1890 Fort Bidwell was closed.

In forthcoming posts we will explore some of its agricultural and mining history.

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Black Rock Toll Road

Black Rock Road
Stockton’s recorded map of his proposed toll road.

Three days after the Gold Run Road Company was organized, H.C. Stockton proposed a Honey Lake Black Rock Toll Road. His one page description of his road was quite vague to say the least.  He proposed his new road starting at Wall Spring, and instead of following the old road and going around the base of the Granite Mountains, much like today’s road, he dreamed up some route over these rugged mountains.  Like the Gold Run Road Company, after he had his claim recorded in Humboldt County, Nevada on March 2, 1866, nothing ever materialized.

Stockton is a colorful character of Lassen, and more on him in future posts.

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Never Sweats

Unionville, 1880. Courtesy of Nevada Historical Society

An obscure mining term of the early 1860s. To be a Never Sweat was considered to be a non-conformist. In Nevada, for instance, one could hold an interest in a mining claim and not work it. One could wait for others to prove the claim. Should the prospects be favorable, the Never Sweat could recover his interest by paying an advance on the accumulated costs. In 1865, Nevada passed an “Act for the Encouragement of Mining.” That change in laws abolished the practice of a Never Sweat and the term faded into oblivion, with the exception of the bestowment on the Honey Lakers. Continue reading Never Sweats

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

Sagebrush War

Roop's Fort
Roop’s Fort, 1940s

Today marks the 151st anniversary of the creation of Lassen County. It was the culmination of the Sagebrush War that finally started the process. In the simplest terms the conflict also known as the Boundary War was the result of John C. Fremont’s selection in 1850 of the 120th Meridian for California’s eastern boundary. The problem was no one knew where that was, and assumed it followed the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In the late 1850s, with the settlement of the Honey Lake Valley, officials of both California and Nevada saw the uncollected tax dollars waiting to be had. Tensions escalated wherein an armed conflict on February 15, 1863 from the two states took place at Roop’s Fort, also known as Fort Defiance. In the end a truce was called when both sides agreed to conduct a boundary line survey to locate the 120th Meridian, in which it was determined the majority of the Honey Lake Valley was located in California. Thus, began the process to create a new California county. A detailed account of the Sagebrush War can be found in the Lassen County Almanac.