Bank of America Closes

Bank of America, 1971.
Today, the Susanville branch of Bank of America closes. The nearest branches are now in Red Bluff and Reno. It was in the summer of 1928 when the bank began negotiations with the Lassen Industrial Bank to take over that troubled institution, which you will note that it was before the 1929 stock market crash. The Lassen Industrial Bank was noted for its liberal loan policies, but that was not the entire problem. Leon Bly’s failed Eagle Lake project took a major toll on the agricultural community and numerous farmers and ranchers defaulted on their loans. The bottom line, on December 1, 1928, Bank of America took over the Lassen Industrial Bank and its iconic two-story brick building on the corner of Main and Gay Streets.


The Non-Existant Pioneer Cemetery

Susanville Cemetery entrance prior to the February 5, 2015 windstorm
This is just a pet-peeve of mine. What really galls me is it origins are the Lassen County Historical Society, of all institutions. It seems as there is an individual(s) who refer to the Susanville Cemetery as the Pioneer Cemetery and from time to time it gets picked up by the local media using that reference It is not, nor will it ever be the Pioneer Cemetery, nor is there a cemetery in all of Lassen County that has that distinction. Furthermore, if you use Asa Fairfield’s definition of pioneer, he refers that the pioneer era for the region ended in 1870. Thus, more than ninety percent of those interred there are not from the pioneer era.


Books Galore!

Plenty of titles to choose from.
This is a good time as any to remind visitors to this site that there are a wide variety of books available on the region’s history, that can be found on this website. With the holidays fast approaching you might want to share a piece of local history with someone, or maybe give a gift to yourself. Over the next couple of weeks, I will highlight some of the titles.

Remembering the Fallen

The send off at the Susanville Depot. Courtesy of Lola L. Tanner
For some, they may wonder where the year went as November is upon us. This month, of course, we observe two important holidays—Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving Day.

It was in November 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the 11th as Armistace Day, to observe the first anniversary when fighting ceased in World War I, then known to many at that time as the Great War.

The United States entry into World War I occurred in April 1917. At that time there was an all out effort throughout the nation to seek volunteers to fight in the war. On August 10, 1917 sixty-five men from Lassen, Modoc and Plumas Counties gathered at Susanville’s Methodist Church for roll call as members of Battery F, Second Light Artillery Division. Afterwards the men marched down Susanville’s Main Street and proceeded to the Southern Pacific Depot to begin their journey to fight in the Great War. The initial group were dubbed the “grizzilies,” who originated the monicker is not known.

In late 1918, discussions were held in Susanville as to what type of memorial should be erected for all the men from Lassen County who perished in the war. It was first proposed that a monument be built on the bluff overlooking Susanville, that would be “inspirational.” Thus, this local landmark finally was given the name of Inspiration Point, and would later become Susanville’s first city park. For reasons unknown, no action was ever taken on this proposal.

The issue, however, did not go away. In 1922, saw the construction of the Highway 36 into Susanville at its western end. It was at this point where a bronze plaque was placed with the names of the fallen. The plaque remained there until 1966 when the highway underwent numerous improvements and it was removed and given to the Lassen County Historical Society. This organization still possesses it, though not on display.

However, the story does not end there. In 1940, the United States was gearing up to enter World War II, and patriotic fever was on the rise. Even though a bronze plaque had been placed at the head of Susanville’s Main Street, as previously mentioned, the local American Legion Post wanted to do a living memorial.

As part of a beautification project around the Lassen County Courthouse square, the legion decided to plant sixteen American sycamore trees, one each for every Lassen County man that perished in the war. It was their intention to place a small brass plaque at the base of each tree with that service man’s name. However, only one was done for Thomas Tucker, for whom the local American Legion Post was named for. Events changed rapidly and all energies were focused on the war effort, so placing of additional markers would have to wait for another time. By the time the war had ended, the project, like so many other community projects were forgotten.

The following is the list of names of the men from Lassen County who died in World War I: Harry Fitzhugh McKinsey, Clyde A. McKea, Howard Edward Waller, Frank Fleener Woodmansee, Irving R. Bullock, Thomas Tucker, George David Hatch, Thomas Jefferson Cary, Russell Ore Landis, George Roy Metcalf, Joe Carretto, Charles David McNamee, William W. Mankins, Howard S. Wilson, Guiseppe Ellena and Carl C. Bearup.

2018 Eagle Lake Calendars

2018 Eagle Lake Calendar
They are now available and here are your options (1) You can order online from this site.* (2) You can purchase them in Susanville at Margie’s Book Nook. If you do this method let me know, your calendar order will be set aside to pick up when it is convenient for you (3) You can have your calendar(s)sent to you with an invoice or (4) if you happen to be Martin Balding you know the routine.

*I know it shows the 2017 calendar. I am hoping to have a new computer shortly, since my old browser will not allow me to edit pages. Thanks for your patience.

Commanche Creek

Baxter Creek, circa 1950s
This was the original name for Baxter Creek. In the summer of 1855, Marion Lawrence, better known as “Commanche George,” made one of the first water diversions of any stream in the Honey Lake Valley. In 1864, Lawrence and B.F. Murphy claimed the Buffalo Salt Marsh in the Smoke Creek Desert as a salt mine—that Murphy developed into a profitable enterprise. Lawrence died in 1868 and was buried in an unmarked grave, one mile north of Peter Lassen’s grave


Colony Dam, Susan River

The Colony Dam, Susan River, November 1897. Courtesy of Betty Barry Deal
In November 1897, the Colonial Irrigation Company of the Honey Lake Valley, part of the Standish Colony operation began work on the controversial Colony Dam on the Susan River, near that community. The construction of the dam outraged their neighbors downstream in the Tule District, who claimed it obstructed their water flow and riparian rights. The Tule folks took the matter to court and not only asked for an injunction, but demanded the $12,000 dam be removed as a nuisance. Lewis Brubeck, who owned the Smith place in the Tules (now the Fleming Unit of Fish & Game), also filed a separate lawsuit against the Company in 1898, as the waters of the river had been diverted, never reaching his property. The Brubeck verdict was important to the Tule people, for while Brubeck only received a damage award of $750, the court placed a restraining order against the Company, preventing the Company from irrigating any other lands until Brubeck’s lands were thoroughly irrigated.

Remember Dyer Mountain?

A view of Westwood with Keddie Ridge in the background, 1955.
It was seventeen years ago on this date that voters approved a ballot initiative to amend the county’s General Plan, Zoning Ordinance and Westwood Area Plan to allow the development of a four-season resort near Westwood known as Dyer Mountain. It was proposed to build three golf courses, ski runs, along with thousands of houses, condos along with commercial retail projects. It became a contentious issue fought by environmental groups. Plagued with financial and legal issues the project has been derailed. I am sure there can be volumes about the topic.

Cemetery Tours Explained

The grave of Jeremiah Wood at the Susanville Cemetery. March 17, 2016
After the County Courthouse Centennial Cemetery Tour several people inquired why I do not repeat this or other cemetery tours. It should be noted, I was asked this year to repeat the Westwood Centennial Cemetery Tour, however due to scheduling conflicts I declined. Though, I did provide the narrative should someone else want to lead the tour. Back to the question at hand. There are so many facets to explore i.e., Civil War veterans. Or another example there are nearly ten people buried in Susanville who were born prior 1800! In addition, there are other cemeteries to visit.