Tag Archives: Westwood

Westwood in the movies

Westwood Theater. Courtesy of David Zoller
Westwood Theater. Courtesy of David Zoller

The Red River Lumber Company was unusual in that it did not routinely have commercial films made of its operations, as their competitors did. It was deemed a good business practice to show prospective retail buyers, as well as investors, of one’s operation. In the 1930s, Red River officials debated the issue, particularly as it might be beneficial if forced to sell Westwood. On the other hand Red River’s neighbor the Fruit Growers Supply Company routinely had films made. For them it was important for the citrus growers to see what was involved with their investment.

In the summer of 1928 Caterpillar tractors sent a camera man to Westwood to film Red River Lumber Company’s entire operation–from the falling of trees to finished board. Caterpillar was interested in Red River’s operations. Red River’s skilled machinists were constantly making improvements to Caterpillar tractors. Among old time Red River employees there was the folklore that Red River had more patents on Caterpillar tractors than Caterpillar.  Whatever the case may be, in November 1928 the film made its debut at the Westwood Theater.

It would be interesting to know if the film exist in Caterpillar archives. After all, Fruit Growers had a 1925 film of their Lassen Operation in their archives.

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Pat O’Dea – The Kangaroo Kicker

Pat O'Dea, Courtesy of the University of Wisconsin
Pat O’Dea, Courtesy of the University of Wisconsin

In 1919, Charles J. Mitchell arrived in Westwood like so many before and after him seeking employment. The Red River Lumber Company had high turnover in its workforce and always had openings. Little did Red River know their new hire was a famous football player. Then again, Mitchell used an alias. After all this was in an era, where few people carried any type of identification, and Social Security numbers were non-existent. Continue reading Pat O’Dea – The Kangaroo Kicker

The Pine Tree Newspaper

A portion of the front page, and only known copy that was found in the T.B. Walker papers at the Minnesota Historical Society
A portion of the front page, and only known copy that was found in the T.B. Walker papers at the Minnesota Historical Society. As a reminder, you can click to enlarge the image.

On March 21, 1916, Westwood’s first newspaper The Pine Tree made its debut.  It was a weekly paper that was distributed for free. Leon R. Stanley who was in charge of production, had a background with newspapers in Modoc County. Very little is known about the paper and when it ceased publication.

On August 17, 1917, The Westwood Independent succeeded The Pine Tree. This paper under the helm of G.B. Morrow, who also served as the justice of the peace remained in operation for three years. Stanley again was in the forefront when The Westwood Sugar Pine which eventually became known was Sugar Pine Press succeeded The Westwood Independent.

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Susanville, 1916

Susanville view, 1916. Courtesy of Hazel Moller
Susanville view, 1916. Courtesy of Hazel Moller

In January the region was hit a big snowstorm and cold temperatures.  Over four feet of snow fell in Susanville, and to get an idea how cold a storm system it was, Sacramento had three inches of snow. The Susanville residents took the storm in stride, as they had been used to such storms every year since 1907. What they would not be prepared for, was this was the last major snowstorm for the next twenty-one years.

When spring arrived, the big news was Leon Bly announced to the world his Eagle Lake project. He assured everyone this time it would be different than the previous twenty attempts. In addition, to Bly the other big news was the first work on a state highway that would connect Red Bluff and Susanville, though it take until 1929 before it was completed.

The Fourth of July was a big celebration that the town had not had for a couple of years. In 1914 and 1915, Westwood was the host to celebrate the nation’s birthday. This time it was Susanville to be the host, and a good time was had by all. By this time a good nature rivalry between the two communities had developed and in the wild, wacky baseball game, Westwood beat Susanville 10-4.

In the fall, Jules Alexander launched a campaign for the preservation of Peter Lassen’s grave, which a campaign fund soon began to erect a new monument. It would take nearly year, but in the fall of 1917, a new monument was installed and dedicated in conjunction with the dedication of the new Lassen County Courthouse.

Just as the year had begun, it ended in much the same way. On Christmas Day Susanville was coated with four inches of snow.

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Tunison’s Fried Chicken

Tunison's advertisement in the 1937 Westwood Chipmunk
Tunison’s advertisement in the 1937 Westwood Chipmunk

In the mid-1930s, Bill and Jeanette Tunison established very popular bar, restaurant and gas station five miles east of Westwood near Goodrich Creek. Tunison, it should be noted had been a Westwood resident since 1916. The establishment became very popular in a short order, known for its good food and hospitality. As Marian Hull Herrick recalled, “People would call ahead to see if they serving were Jeanette’s Rum pie that night. People raved about the fried chicken and biscuits. Jeanette confided in me that they were made with Bisquick.”

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The Westwood Golf Course

Tee time at Westwood, July 13, 1935.
Tee time at Westwood, July 13, 1935.

One would not normally associate the sport of golf in a community composed mainly of lumberjacks and sawmill workers like Westwood. However by 1920, the golfing phenomenon swept through Northern California and this lumber town was no exception.

The “divot diggers” as they were affectionaly known then took a little longer to take hold at Westwood. By the early 1920s, Susanville could boast three golf courses, albeit crude by modern day standards. Even Chester, then just a mere hamlet, had a golf course.

As early as 1921, Westwood’s golfing enthusiasts began the debate to establish a golf course. Yet, they just could not generate enough momentum to pull it off. This all changed in 1929 when Westwood’s golfing community organized a club. Those original duffers consisted of Ross Morehouse, Gene Huggins, Bob Pullman, F.W. Koerner, F.M. Jayne, Bill Corbett, Dan Taylor and C.C. Baptie. Continue reading The Westwood Golf Course

Westwood Hospital

Westwood Hospital
Westwood Hospital, 1928

In 1913, when the Red River Lumber Company was building its company town, the Great Western Power was in the midst constructing its Big Meadows dam to create nearby Lake Almanor. Great Western Power did  have a resident physician, namely Dr. Fred J. Davis to provide medical care. Red River routinely sought his services. By the fall of 1913, Dr. Davis accepted employment with Red River and remained with the company until 1939 when he moved to Susanville and opened a private practice. Continue reading Westwood Hospital

Red River Lumber Company Correspondence

The Big Store, Westwood.
The Big Store, Westwood.

The Red River Lumber Company was headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. With its westward expansion to California and the establishment of its company town there, required extensive communications back and forth. For a historian, it was wonderful due to the paper trail. What is truly amazing is how much has been preserved at the Minnesota Historical Society.

The various members of the Walker family, the owners of Red River, were prolific letter writers.  Fletcher Walker, who was the resident manager at Westwood had to write in great detail about the conditions in California, since everything operated so differently than in Minnesota.

The letters, of course, also contained happenings around Westwood. Whether it was the political scene, or what their competitors were doing. With that in mind, I share a letter that Fletcher wrote to his father, T.B. Walker, exactly one hundred years to the date. You will note the letter is addressed to T.B. Walker in New York and not Minnesota. T.B. Walker then was spending a lot of time in New York wheeling and dealing as part of a re-finance bond sale for the Westwood operations.

Fletcher Walker’s Letter

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