Mount Lassen

California History, September 2010 | Go to article overview

Mount Lassen


Located approximately fifty miles east of the city of Redding, itself 160 miles north of Sacramento on Interstate 5, Lassen Volcanic National Park is increasingly advertised as a much less crowded destination for summer vacations, hiking and other outdoor sports. Mount Lassen (Lassen Peak) grew as a vent on the northern flank of a collapsed volcano originally named Mount Tehama, a stratovolcano that formed some 400,000 to 600,000 years ago with eruptions estimated to have been 50 times greater than Mount Saint Helens in 1980. It is the southern-most volcano in the Cascade Range, which extends into the Garibaldi Volcanic Belt in British Columbia, Canada. As early as 7,500 years ago, the Mount Tehama region was a seasonal home for the Atsugewi, Maidu, Yahi and Yana tribes. Ishi, the last surviving YahiYana, emerged from hiding in Oroville in 1911.

Early known whites to have trekked through the area include Jedediah Smith in 1821; Peter Lassen; and William Nobles, who had pioneered the Nobles Emigrant Trail used in the 1850s and 1860s. Lassen Peak was officially named on June 2, 1915 for Peter Lassen (1800-1859), a Danish-born blacksmith who immigrated to Northern California in 1840. He subsequently became a rancher, the recipient of the Rancho Bosquejo land grant in Tehama County in 1844. In 1855, Lassen settled in the Honey Lake Valley some twenty miles southeast of Susanville (the eventual county seat of Lassen County) as Surveyor and Governor of the unofficial Nataqua Territory, which included a large portion of northwestern Nevada, and down the eastern side of California from the Oregon border to about 25 miles south of Lake Tahoe. Lassen's grave is located several miles south of Susanville, at the foothills below nearby Diamond Mountain.

The painting Lassen Peak, Sierra Nevada Range, dates to after 1878. It is shown here with the mountain at its height some three decades before its 1914-1921 eruptions*. Since that time, aside from geothermal activity in areas colorfully named Sulphur works, Bumpass Hell (the largest), Devils Kitchen and Terminal Geyser, Mount Lassen is quiet.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In early May 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt acted upon petitions from both Lassen and Plumas counties, and set aside Lassen Peak and Cinder Cone lands as national monuments. On August 9, 1916, the area was established as Lassen Volcanic National Park, covering some 106,000 acres including examples of all four different types of volcanoes.

Among other Lassen-related materials available for viewing and research in CHS' North Baker Research Library are photographic and ephemeral material such as those shown on page 3:

Researchers may also view books such as:

* Ruliff Stephen Holway's Preliminary report on the recent volcanic activity of Lassen Peak, University of California Press, 1914;

* the Illustrated history of Plumas, Lassen & Sierra counties, with California from 1513 to 1850, Fariss & Smith, San Francisco, 1882;

* Mrs. Frona Eunice Wait's volume, ardently entitled, The kingship of Mt. …

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