The Rabbit Problem

The site of the original McKissick Ranch on the Madeline Plains.

The desert homesteaders of eastern Lassen County encountered numerous problems in their quest to make their land there productive. One unassuming predator they had to deal with was the rabbit. In 1920, the residents of the Madeline Plains requested aid from their Congressman, John E. Raker, to help them with this particular problem. A study sent to Raker reported: “As soon as the crops are up and making good progress the rabbits begin work on them. The heaviest damage is done during August. One rancher reported losing 100 acres of wheat last summer. They take this crop in preference to oats and rye. It was reported that 70 tons of rabbit meat [to make tamales] had been shipped last season to the San Francisco market. It appears that the animals cannot be killed fast enough in this region to furnish relief to the ranches.”


Eagle Lake Youth Camp

In 1976, the Lassen Advocate had a feature article on the development of the youth camp.

It is officially known as the Lassen County Youth Camp, but its location on the east shore of Eagle Lake and just north of Chico State Biological Field Station, it received the unofficial lake moniker. On November 6, 1962, the County of Lassen received a land patent from the Bureau of Land Management to establish the camp. By 1965, various fund raising drives began and work was done with volunteer labor. In 1974 a restroom and shower facility was completed. It should be noted that a portion of that money came from left over funds from the Save Our Center campaign, which was the result when the state had intentions to close down the California Correctional Center at Susanville. In 1976, the kitchen and dining hall was constructed.


Lassen Roller Flour Mill

Lassen Flour
The Lassen Flouring Mill, 1901. Courtesy of the A.J. Mathews family.

In spring of 1863, Dr. John Briceland of Cow Creek, Shasta County had a problem. The stream which his flour mill was located had begun to erode the foundation. He made an agreement with P.W. Cunningham and Fred Johnson to relocate the mill, or rather the equipment. For their efforts they received one-half ownership. They found a new location for their enterprise at Johnstonville in the Honey Lake Valley. The mill was located along the Susan River, which was needed for power. They built two small reservoirs and at night they would dam the river and fill the ponds. The two ponds held enough water to power the mill until the next night.

During the late 1860s through the early 1870s, mill changed hands numerous times. In 1875, William H. Hall and Henry Snyder took possession and would operate it for thirty plus years. In 1907, Snyder sold his interest in the mill to Hall, as he desired to retire and move to a warmer climate. Shortly thereafter the mill closed and would remain idle for nearly a decade. In 1919, it was sold to M.A. Taylor of Oakland who dismantled it and took the machinery to the San Francisco Bay area. It should be noted that Standish resident, Sam Alexander purchased some of the lumber that he used to build a barn at his place. Finally, for the record the mill was located at the site of the Gables.


Earthquakes – Still Shaking

Main Street, Susanville, 1885. Courtesy of Betty Barry Deal
While searching for information on Dry Valley, Nevada, I came across my earthquake file, while looking for my East Lassen file. Anyhow, I came across this article from the Susanville correspondent to the Reno Evening Gazette, dateline February 6, 1885.

“Real estate in Honey Lake Valley for the past week has been decidedly shaky, and when things are to get settled down to a firm and reliable basis it is hard to determine. Since last Friday night there have been no doubt at least 50 shocks of earthquakes felt in the valley. Today something like a dozen have been felt here in town. One at seven o’clock this morning was quite lively. The shocks seem to be more frequent and harder around Janesville. It is a well established fact that below Buntingville, crossing the Epley Ranch, is a place that “sounds hollow” when being crossed and at intervals rumbling sounds are heard traveling along this place. The sounds seem to come from the mountains to the west and travel toward the lake. Horses when plowing over this place have become frightened at the sounds beneath their feet. This has been repeated for years. The occurrence of so many earthquakes in this locality seems remarkable and how ad when they will cease seems to be a hard conundrum to answer just now.

“Not the earthquakes alone but the weather is phenomenal. Yesterday the thermometer reached 68 degrees in the shade, while for a week or more there has been no frosts at night. Last night and today we had quite heavy showers of rain and the snow is fast disappearing from the mountains.”


Anniversary Time

Main entrance to the Susanville Cemetery, February 8, 2015
Three years ago, on February 5, 2015, I launched this website, without much fan fare. Partly due to the fact the region was hit with a violent windstorm, and by that afternoon the region was without power. Even when power was restored, it would still take several days to upload the various archive and cemetery records. In addition, it was a big learning curve for me, and still is, and I still frustrated with the Login feature.
On March 1, 2015, I began doing the daily postings. It was not until April after I became a bit more proficient with the daily posts, that the subscription feature appeared. I do thank all of you who subscribe for your support. Finally, I just signed another three year contract with the server, so I plan to be around for some time.

More snow berms

The intersection of Cottage and Lassen Streets, January 2005.
Today’s post will be rather brief, since so many folks attention is focused on a singular event. Why, I do not understand all the hype that goes with that. Anyhow, if you recall last Sunday, I wrote about snow berms and Main Street. This is just one of those tidbits to leave behind a record when the City of Susanville changed their snow removal policy. It was the winter of 2004-05 was the last year the city plowed the snow to the center of street creating berms. The current practice is to plow the snow to the gutter. While the streets maybe clear, it is a challenge to reach the sidewalk without injury.


Fairview School District

Fairview School District Map, 1910.
In January 1910, east side residents of Honey Lake petitioned for the formation of a school. They cited that there were twenty-seven eligible students in the proposed district. The nearest school was at Amedee, and the majority of the petitioners resided some 12 miles distance. However, the Lassen County Board of Supervisors did not approve the new school until November. The residents built a schoolhouse in the center of the district, since there were no towns in the area. That would suddenly change with Calneva Station established by the Western Pacific Railroad and Stacy on the Southern Pacific. In 1915, Calneva experienced a boom of sorts, and separated from Fairview to form the Fort Sage School. Fairview continued on even as the population dwindled and in 1936 the school closed for a lack of students.


Ravendale Post Office

Early day Ravendale. Courtesy of Dorothy Capezzoli
Should you happen to find yourself on the Madeline Plains today stop by the Ravendale Post Office and say hello to Nancy Rendel, Postmaster. On this date in 1910 the post office was established with William B. Edwards as its first postmaster. Times were tough on the Madeline Plains during World War I which depopulated the region. The Ravendale Post Office closed on November 15, 1920, though with good fortune it re-opened on May 19, 1921.


Susanville Congregational Church

The Congregational Church, 1911.
On June 1, 1873, twelve men formed the Susanville Congregational Church, the town’s second church. Initially, services were held in the Lassen County Courthouse until such time when they could construct their own house of worship.

In October 1875 it was announced that the D.H. Tucker was awarded to construct a church on the corner of Pine and Cottage Streets. The edifice would cost $2,200 with a $500 loan from the American Congregational Union of New York. At the same time the Methodist were constructing their own church two blocks away. An informal race ensued as to who would have the first church completed. It was the belief of some that the first church dedicated would receive the most support, since some were doubtful that the town could support two churches. The Methodist won.

On November 17, 1878 the congregational church was dedicated with the Rev. John Phillips presiding. Not only was there a large attendance, but two children—Beatrice Partridge and Grace Olive Lovell—were baptized.

By 1900 the church had disbanded. In the fall of 1903, the Lassen Advocate noted: The old congregational church on Pine and Cottage Streets is going to ruin. It is an eyesore and something should be done about it.” Three years later, something was started to take care of that problem. It turned out the American Congregational Union sued the Susanville Congregational Church Society for the $500 that it had loaned them to build the church. They won by default and Lucy Spencer purchased the church property for $1,150. In 1914, Lucy’s grandson-in-law, Charlie Emerson, moved the church down the street, next to the Methodist Church, where he converted into a warehouse for his nearby mercantile business. On August 5, 1915, a fire broke out in the converted church that would destroy most of the buildings on that block.


February Preview

Wingfield’s Meadowbrook Ranch circa 1911. Courtesy of Fred and Alyce Bangham
A little bit of everything is on tap from the Ravendale Post Office’s forthcoming celebration to Fletcher Walker’s 1927 “snowball brigade.” Among other topics is that of the Fairview School and the Susanville Congregational Church. Two items that I just keep procrastinating is the legend of the Holden Dick Mine. The other is about the famed explorer Leonard Clark who grew up in the Honey Lake Valley and graduated from Lassen High School in 1919. Clark had numerous relatives in the region including the Brubeck and Litch families. In addition, he was married to George Wingfield’s daughter. Stay tuned.