The Westwood Card

Lassen County Courthouse, 1922.
When the Red River Lumber Company established its operations at Westwood it had a very congenial relationship with Lassen County officials. That all change in the fall of 1916 when United California Industries wanted to rent a hall in Westwood to discuss prohibition. Red River refused. A firestorm erupted by the Susanville press the Red River’s general manager, R.F. Pray. Pray was livid with the newspapers’ coverage and their commentary of the sordid affair. First, he noted, the newspapers had no right to publish the correspondence between United and Red River, as it was a private business affair not subject to public scrutiny. Pray in his rebuttal wrote, “When commencing operations on a large way in Lassen County three years ago, we informed the public and our employees that we were in engaged in the manufacturing of lumber and not in politics, that we refused participate in them, or be drawn in any political issue.” In conclusion, Pray inferred Red River did not deserve this kind of treatment recently played out in the press. After all, he reasoned, not only was Red River the county’s largest industry and it was the largest purchaser of local produce. Finally, if Red River had its way, last year they would have defeated the bond measure for a new county courthouse, reducing the company’s tax burden. Yet, Red River stayed out of the political arena and now Lassen County citizens are enjoying their modern facility that otherwise would not have materialized.

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