Tag Archives: Westwood

Westwood’s Deportation of Immigrants

Westwood's Old Town, home of many of its immigrant workforce. Courtesy of Hank Martinez
Westwood’s Old Town, home of many of its immigrant workforce. Courtesy of Hank Martinez

One of the more unusual annals in Red River’s history was deportation. Red River hired a large percentage of foreigners whether it be Scandinavians, Italians or Mexicans. With the downturn in the lumber market, the company was forced to layoff some of its workers. If they thought that the layoff was temporary, they allowed the affected worker to remain. By 1930, however, Red River sought alternatives, as they could no longer bear the financial burden. Continue reading Westwood’s Deportation of Immigrants

Susanville’s Quonset Huts

October 18, 2015
October 18, 2015

World War II ushered in a new architectural style, that after the War was adopted by the civilian population.

The two most notables one was the old Naef Electric building in the 1800 block of Main Street. After it closed its doors circa 1977, it has been home to numerous enterprises. In the fall of 1978, it is where the Lassen County Times made its debut.

The other is Poulsen Welding Shop located on Richmond Road and Riverside Drive, and carries with it, an important historic significance.

In the 1930s, Bigelow and Poulsen operated a blacksmith shop at this location, in which Poulsen would take over the business and branching out into welding. On July 11, 1946 a fire destroyed Poulsen’s shop and provided the catalyst for city annexation.  The City was unable to respond to the fire as the city limits stopped on the north side of the Susan River, while Poulsen’s was on the south side, and outside the City. Efforts over the years to annex areas to the east of Weatherlow and south of Susan River had failed. The Red River Lumber Company which owned the Milwood subdivision fought efforts for fear of property tax hikes.  Residents of the outlying areas wanted services such as fire protection.

Thus, the movement for “unification” was born.  On April 8, 1947 a special annexation was approved by the voters. Susanville’s Main Street now extended from Weatherlow to Fairfield Avenue.  The City’s land mass quadrupled in size.

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Tunison’s aka Phil’s Place

Phil'sPlace 001

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.” Continue reading Tunison’s aka Phil’s Place

Fernley & Lassen Railroad

This cut is just west of Susanville at Miller Road.
This cut is just west of Susanville at Miller Road.

Since today is Lassen Land & Trails Trust annual Rails to Trails festival, it is only fitting to share a few scenes of the construction. In September 1913 work began on the construction of the line from Susanville to Devil’s Corral. This segment provided railroad officials with numerous challenges, since there were hardly any physical barriers to contend with the segment from Fernley, Nevada to Susanville. Time was also of the essence, since the railroad had a contractual obligation to complete the line to Westwood by February. With that in mind, over 1,000 men were hired for this construction phase.  On December 12, 1913, the construction train crossed the Devil’s Corral, and all appeared well, until Mother Nature unleashed a fury of storms, which is a topic for another time.

Construction train in the Susan River Canyon.
Construction train in the Susan River Canyon.

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Bert Rodman

Bert Rodman
Rodman’s grave was part of my Westwood Cemetery Tour

Rodman was part of the large influx in Westwood’s population during World War I. He came there from Akeley where he worked in bank, but there being no financial institution he went to work in the mill. That would change when Red River decided to go into the banking business in 1920 when it formed the Westwood National Bank. The bank was a very contentious issue among the Walker family, but it was one of many of the heated exchanges the family engaged in. Anyhow, the bank was conveniently located in the office building across the street from the Big Store and the mill entrance. In 1921, Rodman accepted the position of head cashier at the bank, a position he held until 1936, when Red River got out of the banking business when it sold it to the Bank of America. He died in 1943 and is buried in the Westwood Cemetery. On a final note, a remnant of the bank still remains, the concrete vault across the visitor’s center.

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1-0-1 Ranch Sold

Mountain Meadows Cemetery
The private cemetery at 1-0-1 Ranch as it appeared in the 1930s. Courtesy of the National Park Service.

While I continue on my road to recovery. I will provide some news updates, even though the “locals” may be aware of it. However, this web site has a wide following, even internationally. Consider this someone from Tokyo researched Spoonville, another from Brazil searched the Bank of Lassen County.  In October, an article will appear about readership topics.

Now to the topic at hand. The historic 1-0-1 Ranch at Mountain Meadows has been sold.  According to news sources on July 31, 2015 Dye Creek Land & Cattle Company sold the 2,318 acre ranch to Sierra Pacific Industries, the latter, of course, always seeking to enlarge its timber holdings.

Included in the sale is the Coppervale Ski Area which Lassen Community College operates under a long term lease. Hopefully, Coppervale will be busy with skiers this winter.

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Westwood’s Airport

WW Airport
The aviation as it appeared on August 15, 1920

Westwood’s aviation history is an obscure topic. A crude landing field was established in the late 1910s on Mountain Meadows, about a mile south of the Goodrich Ranch. Initially, its use was nominal, due to its poor condition. In one instance, Joe Hunter received a call from a pilot in Red Bluff about the current condition who replied that it is a mud bog and unfit for landing.

In the 1920s, Fletcher Walker’s two sons—Fletcher Jr., better known as “Cub” and Kenneth—developed a strong interest in airplanes and became pilots. This interest in flying gained momentum in the area, so that in June 1928 the Westwood Auto Club spent $100 to clear the landing field of brush and fill in holes to make two 2,200 foot runways, thus the formal Westwood Airport was created—a first in Lassen County.

This caught the attention of Ted Campbell of San Francisco manager of Beacon Airway to examine the aviation field. He made an inspection to examine the possibility of establishing regular air service to Reno and other points on the Transcontinental Airway route. Yet, the prospect that Westwood residents would have nearby access to regular air service never materialized.

Yet, the Walker boys, as they were commonly referred to, were an adventurous lot. In 1928, They accompanied Dr. Thomas A Arbuthnot of the Pittsburg Medical College on a 10,000 mile African expedition from Cairo to Tanganyika, which they filmed their experiences. It was made into a film, The Wild Heart of Africa which made its debut in May 1929 in New York City. After that expedition they returned to their other passion, flying. In December 1928 they purchased a Travelair Bi-Plane, equipped with a 225 horsepower Wright Whirlwind motor. Cub spent a lot of time and energy in helping many Northern California communities in establishing airports.

Cub Walker
The wrecked Walker plane.

On August 23, 1929, the worst aviation disaster occurred at the Westwood Airport’s brief history. Cub and Kenneth routinely flew over Red River lands to photograph them. In this particular instance they were returning from such an expedition. At approximately 6:00 p.m. they were approaching the landing field when suddenly the plane malfunction and plunged crashing on impact. Frank Stevenson and Mike Pappas witnessed the crash from afar as they were placing duck blinds on the far shore of Walker Lake. The two men rushed to Westwood to inform the family and gather a party to go out to crash site. Cub was instantly killed from a broken neck and the rescue party on their arrival found Kenneth regaining conscious and attempting to get out of the cockpit and later fully recovered.

The airport continued to see use in the early 1930s, but by the end of that decade, it had become a footnote in Westwood’s history.

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T.B. Walker

Westwood. Courtesy of Hank Martinez

Some may remember when I posed a question earlier, who was the most influential person in Lassen County. Well, it is T.B. Walker, founder of the Red River Lumber Company. His impacts are far and wide, and still lingers today. The historic Lassen County Courthouse came to be with Walker’s influence at the ballot box to pass the bond measure. Off tangent for a bit, there are some who think Isaac Roop is the most revered figure Lassen County has ever experienced. If you look at the record, Roop made a killing so to speak as a realtor, selling land that he did not own. Benevolent and generous, I do not think so, he sold—not donated—the courthouse block, and put in a covenant that if no longer used by the county it reverts back to his heirs. Enough said. Continue reading T.B. Walker

Westwood’s Old Town

Westwood's Old Town. Courtesy of Hank Martinez
Westwood’s Old Town. Courtesy of Hank Martinez

In reality, Westwood had two distinct communities—the town proper and the neighborhood on the other side of the millpond. Mill B and the initial housing quarters were constructed on the east bank of Robbers Creek. All of the permanent facilities, including Mill A and the town proper were built on the west bank. The older community had been referred with several designations. In the early years, some called it Oakland, others Baytown. Whatever the case may be, residents of Westwood stated it was where the “foreigners” lived—mainly Italians and Mexicans. References in a pre-politically correct era dubbed the place Dago Town. Eventually, using a less derogatory tone it evolved into Old Town—being the original location of Westwood.

In the summer of 1943, a contest was held to rename Old Town. Thirty-nine people suggested ninety-two names. The new name selected was Pine Town submitted by Roger Mentick who received a $15 prize in War Savings Stamps.

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Westwood’s People’s Church

People's Church
People’s Church, circa 1919.

In the spring of 1917, Fletcher Walker brought up the topic that Westwood was in need of a house of worship with his father, T.B. and wrote: “We have come to a time when it seems inadvisable to put off further the building of a working church. The Sunday school had 255 last Sunday and the condition of the school in one of the old cook houses is such that the congestion prevents efficient work.” Continue reading Westwood’s People’s Church