Tag Archives: Railroads


Scotts, courtesy of the Nevada Historical Society

Scott’s was a little known Western Pacific station in Long Valley. It was so named for Charles and Franceska Scott who located there in 1901, from Fish Springs. With the railroad station, they decided to open a general store and even established the Scotts Post Office. The post office only operated from 1912 to 1916. In 1918, they sold their 3,160-acre ranch to Antonio Saralegui.

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Stacy Depot
Stacy Depot. The town was named for Stacy Yoakum Spoon, wife of Grover Franklin Spoon, one of the town’s developers and its first postmaster.

Once it became known that the Fernley & Lassen Railroad would be constructed through the Honey Lake Valley, it made the region a virtual paradise for real estate promoters. Three towns were plotted out—Leavitt, Litchfield and Stacy, the latter being in the eastern part of Honey Lake Valley between Amedee and the Nevada Stateline.

On April 19, 1913, the Lassen County Board of Supervisors approved the Stacy townsite. The town’s founders, the Spoon Brothers—Frank and Andrew—and Doctor B.B. Bolton envisioned great possibilities, such as the development of a major shipping facility for the region’s start up sugar beet industry. Prior to the railroad development, numerous homesteaders had arrived in part of the dry farming experience, and that of the Standish Water Company’s reclamation plan to use water from Honey Lake to transform the area into a major sugar beet region.

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Leavitt City


Stock corrals at Leavitt, circa 1922.
Stock corrals at Leavitt, circa 1922.

In the fall of 1912, Benjamin H. Leavitt proposed the town on his original ranch. Leavitt wrote to his granddaughter, Edith Elledge, of his intentions: “I am going to cut the old ranch up into small tracts and sell it off in ten and twenty acre tracts . . . I am also building a road down from Rice’s Canyon, you know that is directly north of the town of Leavitt, to connect with all the northern trade clear out to Big Valley. The R.R. Co. have agreed to put their stock yards there. I have given them the land for the stock yards. I am also going to extend the road through the ranch to intercept the Janesville Road near Billey Indian. All the merchants of Janesville have agreed to order their good shipped to Leavitt which will make it one of the largest shipping points on the Fernley & Lassen.”

In addition, Leavitt offered railroad officials land if they would construct their roundhouse there. That proposition did not occur as Susanville’s business community convinced the railroad to locate that operation in their town. “The City” consisted of only the store, a few dwellings, and several large corrals that held livestock for shipment on the railroad.

Yet, years later, one could say a city of sorts of was built just north of Leavitt, the home of the California Conservation Center and High Desert State prisons.

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Westwood’s First Train

First Train
First train to Westwood, February 21, 1914

When the decision was finally made by the Red River Lumber Company to locate a mill at Mountain Meadows, there was still the obstacle of a railroad. Actually, the selection process was a volatile one, which one can read in Red River: The Early Years. On January 29, 1912, Red River entered into a contract with the Southern Pacific Railroad to construct a 125 mile railroad from Fernley, Nevada to Mountain Meadows, to the town that would be named Westwood. As an incentive, Red River guaranteed the Southern Pacific that all their freight would be handled by this line for a period of five years. In addition, it was understood that once Red River was ready to expand north, the Southern Pacific would extend its line to Klamath Falls, Oregon. However, that is another story, though Red River gave serious consideration to build a second mill near Lookout. Continue reading Westwood’s First Train


Karlo, 1920

The Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad (NCO) did a great deal for the development of eastern Lassen County. As a result, a number of communities sprang up, some a mere outpost and others a bit more substantial. However, like the railroad, many in time would fade into oblivion.

In 1899, the (NCO) established a station in Secret Valley. Those residents thought it would become a major shipping point on the NCO, like its recent predecessor, Amedee, but that did not occur. This did not prevent James Sellick from constructing a two-story hotel at the Karlo Station that summer. The station was named for the DeCarlow Brothers—Alonzo Metardus (1868-1949), Charles William, and Walter Henry (1859-1949). Charles W. DeCarlow was the first member of the trio to arrive in Secret Valley when, in 1889, he and H.F. Buhrmeister purchased 200 acres from D.C. Hyer for $2,400. When the station was established in August 1899, there was confusion as to how to spell it. The locals spelled it Carlo, but the railroad clearly indicated it was K-A-R-L-O. The Lassen Advocate noted: “The management of that road seems to have a liking for short names and odd spellings following in the wake of the Postal Department in this respect.”  It is interesting to note the next station the railroad  established was named Termo.


Madeline Depot
NCO Depot, Madeline 1910

Did you know that there two Madelines? The first town of Madeline was located in Grasshopper Valley and established in 1874 by Merrick Cheney and George Ford. It went out of existence in the 1880s, and later became known as Yorks.

The current town of Madeline came into existence in 1902 when the Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad extended its line through the region. On October 9, 1902, the Lassen County Board of Supervisors accepted the Madeline townsite. For the next fifteen years, prosperous times were to be found at Madeline. The advent of World War I and the subsequent depression of the 1930s had a dramatic impact, not only to the town of Madeline, but to the Plains as well, as seventy percent of its population left the area.


Davis Cut, Fernley & Lassen
Davis Cut near Susanville of the Fernley & Lassen Railroad, 1912

Well, now that I have included future topics on logging, mining and ranching, I need to add another—railroads. It is hard to imagine in this day and age just how important railroads were for development. In certain ways you could compare it to the internet of the 1800s and for a large part of the 1900s. Railroads were one of the most efficient ways to move goods and people. Without rail transportation, growth was stymied. This was particularly true in Lassen when politics versus common sense bypassed Lassen with the transcontinental railroad. After all which would be cheaper to build and maintain a railroad over Fredonyer Pass/Deer Creek as originally surveyed versus Donner?

Four railroads would build through Lassen—Nevada-California-Oregon, Fernley & Lassen (Southern Pacific), Western Pacific and Great Northern. In addition, Fruit Growers, Lassen Lumber and Red River operated their own logging railroads, so a lot of old iron horsepower was put to work. Stay tuned for more on this topic.


Local News Coverage

From time to time, I will post local news, since so much coming and goings in the region go unreported. With three different news outlets, one would assume that there would be considerable coverage.

Amedee, 1916
Amedee, January, 1916 courtesy of Marie Herring Gould

Amedee Sold. While this event is a year old, it is still unknown to many. On February 24, 2014, the Humphrey family that owned Amedee Hot Springs, the abandoned townsite and surrounding ranching property for nearly a century sold it to Hays Ranches for $450,000. It should be noted, that the Humphreys were involved in the McKissick Cattle Company that purchased the Amedee holdings in 1915. By the late, 1920s the town had been abandoned, save for a caretaker. However, visitors would stop by to take advantage of the old bathhouse for a soak from the hot springs.