Adin - See Big
Alturas - As the seat of Modoc
County, Alturas lies in the broad valley of the Pit River, near the center of
the county. Alturas was originally called Dorris Bridge, after the Dorris
brothers who first settled here in 1870. 1871 was a booming settlement year, and
by February 1873 there were between 150 and 200 residents in the Pit River
valley. Dorris Bridge began to take on the aspects of a bona fide town in 1873.
An important early development was the public meeting hall. It was also used as
a dance hall, theater, courthouse and church, and it unquestionabily increased
the community's prestige. In the year 1876, the community was renamed Alturas,
which is Spanish for "Valley on Top of a Mountain." First the post office
changed its name, then the school district officially became Alturas, followed
by the entire town. A visiting correspondent of the Reno Journal declared that
the "little mountain town [is] . . . about the liveliest camp in the country".
Today, the city is located at the junction of Highways 395 and 299, which place
it on a north-south line between the Pacific Northwest and California's large
population centers of Sacramento and Los Angeles. Alturas Municipal Airport
provides charter flights to and from the Alturas area.
Big Valley - is nestled between
high mountain peaks in the southern Cascade mountain range, in the southwest
corner of Modoc County and northwest corner of Lassen County. It is one of the
most picturesque and unspoiled areas remaining in California.
It is here that one finds small towns with mid-western
appeal, offering most of the services available in a city while still retaining
an away from it all atmosphere.
Prime agricultural and timberland, lakes, mountain
streams and miles of inland waters offer number fishing, hunting and other
The communities of Big Valley (Adin, Bieber, Nubieber
and Lookout) offer a complete range of business services. Adin, Bieber and
Lookout have services for gas, diesel and propane. Adin and Bieber have food,
clothing and most of your basic needs. Adin and Bieber also offer a full range
of dining and lodging services. Adin, Bieber and Lookout all have community
recreation parks in town. Bieber has an historical museum.
Alfalfa hay is Big Valley’s major agricultural crop, in
addition grass and grain hay are grown. Their high mountain quality is second to
none. Several thousand head of fine cattle and sheep are pastured here year
Canby - This area was settled
in 1869 by the Hess family followed by the Pope’s in 1870. At that time it was
called Warm Springs Valley, probably for the nearby hot springs. In 1874, the
name was changed to Canby with the appointment of James Pope as the first
postmaster. General E. R. S. Canby, for whom the town was named, was killed in
1873 during the Modoc Indian War at the Lava Beds.
This was and still is a ranching community, but in the
middle 1930’s the timber industry played an important factor in the growth of
the town, and it became more than just “a wide spot in the road.” At one time
there were two mills operating here, along with two logging camps, sixteen miles
of rail logging and a gandy dancer crew, and Canby was on it’s way. The
population grew to nearly 700 and there were over 100 students enrolled in the
Arlington School. There was a cook and boarding house for the workers, a hotel,
two stores, a service station, two bars and a community hall.
In 1966, the mill, then owned by Loveness Brothers, was
destroyed by fire and Canby’s heyday was over. Families moved away in search of
employment, but to those old timers who still live here, they have their
memories of those days gone by. (Velma McCrary, 1997)
Originally called Deep Creek,
Cedarville was a camping place for wagon trains. Settled about 1864,
William Cressler and John Bonner were running the trading post by 1867.
This trading post can be seen at Cedarville Park. These men were
instrumental in developing the town. They also built the first road over
Cedar Pass. By 1880 Cedarville's population was
|220 and it was
the largest town in the valley. Historic buildings still line Main
Street, housing many interesting businesses. Less than a mile south of
Cedarville is access to the South Warner Wilderness Area via Deep Creek
Road at Pepperdine Station. Aside from agriculture, major employers in
the town are the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, the
schools and the hospital. Local merchants and businesses also provide
employment. The town has both doctor and dentist, drug store with
full-time pharmacist, a senior citizens center, grocery stores, auto
parts outlets, lumber mill, service station, auto repair shops, gift
boutiques, several eating establishments, a bed and breakfast inn, two
motels, recreational vehicle parks, trailer court, and laundromat.
Centrally located, Cedarville is the hub of the Valley.
Cedarville is also home to the Modoc District Fairgrounds, where the
refurbished collection of historic buildings called Louieville can be
seen. Each year the fair is host to the Warner Mountains Roundup Rodeo
in June, the District Fair every August, and the Frontier Christmas Fair
in November. The fairground is available as an event center throughout
the year and has one hundred recreational vehicle hook-ups, tennis
courts, stables, showers, livestock facilities, kitchen and BBQ area,
grandstand arena, meeting rooms and more.
Tome Bare, believed to be the
first homesteader in Surprise Valley, settled near Eagleville. The bald
eagles that gave the town its name can still be seen each spring
|roosting high in
the cottonwood trees. Once an important stage stop on the road north
from Reno, Eagleville is now home to a store-deli, a pool hall, and a
community center that was once the general store. The area is dotted
with hot springs. Excellent fishing is found at East Creek, Sworinger
Reservior and Bare Creek.
Fort Bidwell was founded as a
military post in 1865 and named in honor of an early pioneer, General
Bidwell. The fort encouraged businesses such as sawmills, stores, and
hotels. About 1905 gold was discovered in the northern Warner Mountains.
A mining town called High Grade sprung up in a canyon above Ft. Bidwell
and a short-lived rush was on. The fort closed in 1892 and was used by
the Department of Interior as an Indian School. The Fort Bidwell Native
community hosts an annual Cultural Gathering Pow Wow. Many historic
sights remain in Fort Bidwell - Fort Bidwell church, was erected circa
1885 and still holds regular services.
Fort Bidwell General Store was built in 1874 of stone
from Bidwell Canyon, a virtual fireproof fortress, and remains one of
the longest continuously operating stores in the state. Fort Bidwell
Hotel and Restaurant opened in the early 1900s and operates today as
both hotel and dinner house. At the north end of Main Street is a stone
schoolhouse erected in 1917. Students now attend school in Cedarville.
Remnants of the bank vault, established in 1907 are seen on Main Street
next to Kober's Dry Goods Store. Fort Bidwell is the gateway to the
North Warner Mountains.
Four miles south of Fort Bidwell is Fandango Pass Road,
following the emigrant trail over the Warners to Goose Lake. Surprise
Valley views are spectacular. Northwest from Fort Bidwell is County Road
2, winding through the historic Highgrade mining area, past recreation
areas of Cave and Lily Lakes and west to New Pine Creek. Also accessible
from Fort Bidwell are Lake Annie and Fee Reservior, which offer fine
fishing. It is a scenic drive from Fort Bidwell to Adel, Oregon, with
abundant trout streams along the way.
Lake City - founded in 1864, was the first organized community in the
area, and had the first saw mill, the first grist mill, the first school and the
first wedding in the county. The flouring mill, constructed in 1867 still
stands. The "49er" emigrant trail passed near Lake City and wagon tracks remain
in some places. Geothermal activity is present around Lake City and offers a
potential source of clean power. In 1951 there was an eruption spewing debris
thousands of feet up from the mud volcanoes in the area. There is access to the
Warner Mountains via Lake City Canyon Road along the scenic creek.
Lookout - Site of the Infamous
Lookout Lynching, one of the most publicized cases ever tried in the west, when
five men were hung in the spring of 1901. Over 25 men from the Lookout area were
charged with the murder of the five men. In November 1901, one man was chosen to
be indicated by the Grand Jury as a test case. His trial lasted over 90 days,
and brought much unfavorable publicity to Modoc County. A “not Guilty” verdict
was rendered, after some extenuating circumstances were pointed out. All other
indictments were dismissed after the one trial. Also see Big Valley.
New Pine Creek
Surprise Valley - lies in the
northeastern most corner of California, adjacent to both Nevada and Oregon. The
valley is bounded on the west by the Warner Mountains and by the Hayes Range on
the east. Once covered by prehistoric Lake Surprise, this area of the Great
Basin is rich in geological history. Rockhounds and sighteers will delight at
impressive rock formations, such as the Bear and the Honey Pot, and may discover
obsidian depostis, fossils, or petrified wood as you explore. Active geothermal
areas and hot springs dot the valley as well.
Long the home of the
Paiute, the valley was first settled as a result of drought in the
Sacramento Valley in 1863. The emigrant trail to California and Oregon passed
through the valley and it is estimated that over 300,000 settlers used this
route. Surprise Valley is now home of approximately 1,500 residents, many of
whom are fourth and fifth generation valleyites.
Agriculture has been the mainstay of the four valley
communities. Cattle ranching and alfalfa hay production are still the leading
enterprises. Cattle drives still take place across open terrain and along valley
At an average elevation of 4,700 feet, the valley is
approximately 70 miles long and averages 10 miles wide. Average precipitation
ranges from 12 to 16 inches, with average accumulated snow depth of 18 inches or
less in the winter. Mean temperatures range from 30 degrees Fahrenheit in winter
to 71 degrees in summer. The growing season is 100 to 130 days and most
vegetable strive in this climate. Cattle, sheep and horses are common livestock,
with llamas and yaks at the other end of the spectrum. The valley has its own
school district, with both elementary and high schools; and a hospital district,
with clinic, and acute and long term hospital care available. The is also an
airport, Modoc District Fairgrounds, Forest Service and Bureau of Land
Management offices, Cedarville Park, many churches (some historic), and much
more - Also see Fort Bidwell, Lake City, Cedarville, Eagleville.