From time to time discussions have been held whether the cloud seeding in the Lake Almanor Basin area by Pacific Gas & Electric Company affects the areas to the east. In 1979, Lassen County officials thought the cloud seeding was part of the drought problem in southern Lassen County. In October 1979, Henry LaPlante of PG&E stated that the company has been treating selected storm systems for more than 25 years. He said the intent of the seeding was to increase the high elevation snowpack. Furthermore, LaPlatnte wrote, “There is no scientific evidence which indicates that cloud seeding activities in our Almanor area reduces the amount of precipitation in any other area.
For those that have never been there, this is a hidden gem inside Lassen Volcanic National Park. It was Susanville resident, Alexander Sifford (1861-1957) who was key figure into transforming the place into a resort. However, in 1874, Thomas Malgin first settled in the upper end of the Warner Valley, and built a bath house to take advantage of Hot Springs Creek. Malgin focused more on raising sheep, than operating a remote tourist attraction.
Malgin was succeeded by Edward Drake, who in 1890 built the first lodge. His operation was simply known as Drake’s Spring. In June 1900, Susanville school teacher Alex Sifford arrived with his family as friends suggested the springs might help his ailments. Sifford was so taken away, that he negotiated to buy the place from Drake for $6,000. In 1914, for marketing purposes, the name was changed to Drakesbad. The Sifford family continued with operations until the 1950s when the last of their holdings was sold to Lassen Volcanic National Park. You can learn more by reading Roy Sifford’s memoirs Sixty Years of Siffords: Darkesbad directly from this site.
In 1925, Great Western Power Company announced its plans to enlarge Lake Almanor. The raising of the dam would flood a large portion of Chester Flats, thus flooding a number of roads, and also Red River Lumber Company logging railroad network. Controversy arose when Great Western informed the Plumas County Board of Supervisors that the road across Chester Flats would be re-routed to follow the high water contour. The residents of Chester and Westwood were furious, for such a proposal would add an additional seven miles between the two communities. They wanted a causeway in which the current route would remain the same. Great Western balked at the idea. After all, a causeway would cost Great Western $220,00, while to re-route the road would only cost $50,000. To make a long story short the opponents bypassed the Plumas County Board of Supervisors and had the State Highway Department intervene. In 1926, an agreement was made between the State and Great Western that a causeway would be constructed.
I enjoy a good folklore story, as well the conspiracy theories. Believe me through the years, I have heard many a tall tale. Those residing in the region in what became Lake Almanor held on to their firm belief that the Lassen Peak eruptions were caused by the filling of the newly created reservoir. As John Kelley of Warner Valley recalled: “Hell, there ain’t nothing funny about that old mountain blowing up. Those power people filled that Lake Almanor down there, the water seeped back through them cracks and hit them hot rocks. That caused a lot of steam, and that old mountain just had to blow.”
Susanville resident Viola Roseberry (1860-1936) had a special fondness of Native American heritage and that of their basketry. She possessed a large basket collection. In 1915, the collection was displayed at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco. To coincide with the exhibit she published a book, Illustrated History of Indian Baskets and Plates made by California Indians and Many Other Tribes. Book had a price of 50 cents.
The cover picture is of Lena Peconum who has numerous descendants in this area. Viola wrote stories behind the baskets, such as one Maidu woman Comanche, who at the time was believed to be the oldest Maidu weaver, approaching 100 years of age, and residing in Genesee Valley, Plumas County.
If there was a text book history of Lassen County, N.D. Rideout name would probably not show up, and if it did it would be an obscure footnote. Yet, this Marysville merchant did exercise some influence on the region, especially when he became an investor in a short line railroad known as the Northern California. When T.B. Walker’s Red River Lumber Company began acquisition of timberland in Northern California, the two men became acquainted. After all, Walker was in need of a railroad to access his holdings, and Rideout owned one. In 1906, Rideout and Walker reached an agreement wherein the Northern California Railroad would build a line from Red Bluff to Fall River Mills, where Walker intended to build his first sawmill in California. However, in 1907, Rideout abruptly died, and everything came to a halt.
However, Rideout, also left a bit of legacy behind as he had an interest in photography. He was amateur photographer, long before cameras were common place. In 1887, he took several photographs including the one above, and also one of Drakesbad.
Some times, there is no such thing as a final resting place. In most cases what occurs, is a family relocates a graves(s) from one cemetery to another. This was not the case with the Prattville Cemetery, now located on the west shore of Lake Almanor.
The town of Prattville was established in 1867, it what was known as Big Meadows. During the summer months, folks from the Sacramento Valley flocked there to escape the summer heat. One must remember this pre-air conditioned times.
The first burial in what would become the Prattville Cemetery occurred on June 17, 1864 with the internment of James Lee. In 1925, Great Wester Power Company announced its intention to enlarge Lake Almanor, and thus the cemetery would have to be moved. In October 1926 Kenneth Murray of Greenville was hired to exhume 101 bodies and relocate them 300 yards to the west. A.D. Greig of the Susanville Granite Works was in charge of relocating the thirty-five monuments in the cemetery. Those who have attended my cemetery tours, I always point out that are large percentage of graves are unmarked.
Humbug Valley is located a bit south and west of Lake Almanor. It is an interesting locale, and worth the trip if you have never been there.
In 1855, B.K. Ervine and William B. Long used the valley for stock-range. Two years later, gold was discovered and set off a flurry of mining operations. Long and his father-in-law, Allen Wood, built a hotel there, and a sawmill mill, too, and thus the town of Longville came into existence. In 1862, Long came to Susanville and purchased William Weatherlow’s ranch, known today as Susanville Ranch Park.
Longville continued to flourish, and then came along World War I and everything changed. Like so many places Longville would slowly become de-populated and residents never returned after the War. The Longville Post Office that had been in operation since 1861, closed in 1918.
One of Susanville’s original streets, when the town was surveyed in 1863 it was the most western street. So named for the pine trees that are on the western edge of town. An odd thing about Pine Street, it initially went from Main south to the Susanville Cemetery. What is known as North Pine Street did not come into existence for a number years, and even then it only extended to North Street. For years it was known as Prattville Road, and this was route out of town, and the next town then in existence was Prattville, which the original town no longer exists as it demolished to make way for Lake Almanor in 1914.
The Susanville Post Office was established in 1859. A little known fact, it carried the postal cancellation of Susanville, U.T., as in Utah Territory. Nevada had not yet been created and Utah’s western boundary was that of California.
The biggest problem for the new post office was receiving mail for distribution. On March 3, 1860, Susanville resident wrote to Col. F.W. Lander in Washington, D.C. about the state of the postal affairs: “There is an effort being made to have a daily mail established from Oroville from the first of June to the 30th of November, and semi-weekly for the balance of the year. Now Sir, if you could get the same service continued on through Indian Valley which needs a P.O. having about three hundred inhabitants through Richmond to Susanville with a P.O. at each place you would confer a great favor on the people here about five hundred in number and constantly increasing (There having been rich mines discovered here since your departure.
“There was three routes established last year, one from Shasta, one from Oroville (the route you went down) and another from LaPorte all arriving at Susanville. There was however been no service on either of them and if we could get the above route from Quincy it would answer us better than all three of those which were recommended by Judge Crane without knowing the actual wishes of the people.”
During the 1860s witnessed improvements with the Idaho-California Stage Company that had the mail contract from Chico to Idaho via Susanville. In 1869, conditions for receiving mail was stabilized with the completion of the transcontinental railroad.