in beautiful northeast
California: Modoc County
530 233 3133
Acreage and Lots
Ranch and Farm
Modoc County 2
Modoc County 3
Modoc County, California
Cedarville--Eagleville--Lake City--Fort Bidwell--Day--
Davis Creek--New Pine Creek
This is a very long page. If you
are interested in particular communities and would
rather not scroll, you will find each name above to be a link to send you to the exact
on the page. The information is not intended to be complete histories; it
capture some interesting notes and the atmosphere of each community.
Modoc County where the West still lives
Prior to John Fremont's visit to
what is now Modoc County and later occupation by the US Army, this beautiful
land was inhabited by the Achomawi (Pit River tribe), the Modocs in the
northern regions, and the Paiutes, who lived mostly east of the Warner
Mountains. Many locations, public and secret, throughout the county commemorate
the successful life ways of these hunter gatherer tribes. The Modoc County
museum, in Alturas, contains much history about hunting, farming, religion,
and culture of the Achomawi, the Modocs, and the Paiutes.
1840s brought the first white pioneers who crossed Fandango Pass on the way
to California and Oregon. The Applegate and Lassen Trails met on
Fandango Pass, with the Oregon Trail crossing Goose Lake north to Oregon,
and the Applegate Trail heading south from the lake toward Susanville. Many
settlers remained in Surprise Valley, to the east of the Warner Mountains.
families returned to
the Warm Springs Valley
to farm and ranch. The Dorris family settled in the valley in 1870 and
established the community of Dorris Bridge.
Modoc County was separated from Siskiyou
County in 1874. Discussion about the county's name ranged from
Canby to Summit. It is an interesting note that the citizens finally
rejected Canby in favor of Modoc, after the Modocs who stood off General
Canby for several months during the Modoc Wars.
According to the 2001 US Census, there are about 9,300 people in Modoc
County; there are about 25,000 cattle.
To the north of Modoc County lies Oregon; to
the east is Nevada. Lassen County is south, and Siskiyou County lies
west of Modoc. There are 2,750,000 acres in Modoc County, with over 70
percent of that land belonging to the state and federal governments.
Alturas--the Modoc county seat
Alturas was originally called Dorris Bridge, but since a town
north of Alturas was also named Dorris, in 1876, the community elected to
change the name to Alturas. Some say "Alturas" means "high land."
or "high valley." "Alta" indeed means "high" but the accuracy of the
rest of the claim remains a mystery. Dean Neer Modoc
Realty sits on the south side of the Pit River, next to the modernized
Two historic landmarks in Alturas are: the Niles Hotel, built
in 1908, and purchased in 1912 by J. E. Niles. It was
lovingly restored and enriched in the 1970s and 1980s by Steve and Cheryl
Baker, and is now owned by the Vass family. Sacred Heart
Catholic Church, the oldest original standing church in Modoc, was
quarried from local stone, as was Al Arena's welding shop, originally a
This old Southern Pacific steam driven engine, the last to be
used in this area, was retired in the 1950s. It sits at the
southern end of Alturas in Rachel Dorris Park.
Families who live on Josephine Street and
east 4th Street enjoy this view of the Warners, the Pit River, and the
grassy meadows that stretch for miles. The silvery crop in the
foreground is oats.
Hop vines are traditionally planted on the south side of this Victorian
house, originally built by the Flournoy family. When Dean was a boy,
he, Danny Dorris, and friends had the annual chore, assigned by Mrs. Dorris,
to pull down the hops every fall.
Gateway to the Warner Mountains
The story goes that residents of this ranching community sat
around a fire one evening, discussing the name for their town. Someone
said, "It's a likely place for a town, and Likely is a likely name for it."
The name stuck. The south fork of the Pit River meanders
westward from Jess Valley through Likely, then north to Alturas. The
town is shaded with ancient poplars and the homes along the main street, (Highway 395) are attractive with handsome
gardens. Likely has a busy
general store and a restaurant--The Most Likely Cafe--used by residents and travelers.
with the most extensive collection of classic
cars in the county
Riverside at Whitley's Ford on the Pit River was the first
name for this settlement in the northern part of Big Valley. At first
it thrived, with nine business in the town, but when activities shifted to
other parts of the valley, the town declined. In the late 1870s and
1880s, the town was revived and rechristened as Lookout. The
blacksmith shop, still standing was built by J. W. Leventon in 1888.
Lookout received national attention for the "Lookout Lynchings," during
which a family of thieves was taken from the local jail and hanged from the
Pit River Bridge. Today the community shows its pride with a
wildflower garden at the entrance to the town.
best kept secret in Modoc County
(even from most Modoc-ers)
When the highway brings one to the tiny town of
Day, in the southwest corner of Modoc County, the view of the Little HotSprings
Valley, with both Mt. Lassen and Mt. Shasta on the horizons, dominates the
town. The dominant architecture in Day is a private residence built on
an impressive foundation of local stone.
The Lorenzen family has maintained an official US Weather rain guage in Day,
since 1940--for three generations. Average yearly rainfall is 23.79
No longer in use, but still standing is the Day Post Office,
built in 1888.
the southern edge of Modoc County sits the shady town of Adin.
Founded in the late 1800s by Adin McDowell, this lovely little town has a
strong community spirit. The Adin Community Bible Church,
established in 1888, is the home of almost every important community event.
The Old General Store, built in 1906, stocks everything from antiques to
video tapes. Dean Neer's grandfather and Uncle Joe Steele
both kept books for the store in the early years of the 20th century.
Uncle Jimmy taught in the local schools and lived his entire life in the
Adin area. Uncle Jimmy's daughter, Bunny Hawkins remains an active part of the communityand
her husband, Norman, makes sure that the flower baskets are blooming all
Ash Creek runs through the center of town, just south of the welcome
that says, "The community that cares."
The Adin Store is the center
of Adin activity. The excellent meat counter, the deli, and the
antiques section are drawing points for the community and travelers.
You'll usually find Steve Gagnon there, cutting the steaks or making the
Newell rich in farmground
and in history
After WW II, veterans were given priority in acquiring
land under federal Homesteading provisions. Many
families settled in the Tulelake Valley in northern Modoc County.
Prime farming real estate was available after the Tulelake Reclamation
project. Thousands of acres of rich farmland, fertilized by millions
of years of lake life, opened up the valley to potato and grain farming, as
well as cattle ranching. It is a friendly open farming
community. The town itself stands on the site
of one of the more nefarious institutions in U. S. History.
During WW II, the area was used as a Japanese Internment Camp, housing
nearly 20,000 Japanese Americans. It was the last of the ten
camps in the United States to close.
It was important to many Japanese Americans to be able to see a
mountain. Beautiful Mt. Shasta was only 75 miles to the west.
But unfortunately, the government located the camp just east of a huge
sedimentary rock which blocked the view of Mt. Shasta. The residents
of the camp then turned to Horse Mountain,
which was immediately south of the
Stronghold can be visited. In this natural fort, Captain Jack
and a group of Modocs bravely successfully held off General Canby of the
U. S. Amy, for months before their eventual defeat.
The Stronghold Store is named for this rocky area.
Canby junction of 299 and 139
Canby, California just south of Rattlesnake
Butte, is named for General R. S. Canby. Today it is home to about 600
people, including the ISOT organization, which hosts a private school and
was instrumental in writing a large grant for the new Canby Family Practice
Clinic. For a few weeks beginning with Thanksgiving and ending with
Christmas, Canby becomes the most beautiful town in California, with
numerous dioramas of the first European settlers Thanksgiving and many
scenes from the birth and life of Christ. Pictures will be added
during the 2005 holiday season.
This friendly town is surrounded by hay farms
and cattle ranches. Adin Mountain rises just to the southwest and the Pit River
springs has been host for many years to the annual Lions Easter Egg hunt for
Modoc community children. The waters are hot enough to boil the eggs.
Currently it is the home of a thriving fish hatchery business, which
supplies the entire north state of California.
Cedarville Home of the Modoc
County Fair in Surprise Valley
named Deep Creek Settlement, was home to the first Modoc County
Euro-American business, a small trading post and general store, established
by James Townsend. In 1865 Cressler and Bonner purchased
the business and expanded into banking. (Other sources say that they
arrived in 1867. ) This original structure has
been restored and is located on Center Street in Cedarville.
(There are no cedars in the area. Deep Creek Settlement was renamed
Cedarville for Bonner's hometown in Ohio.)
As their businesses prospered, Cressler and Bonner built the
red brick building in 1884-85. That structure is now home to a book
store and a saddleshop.
Hearth, restaurant and gift
shop, is owned and operated by Jan Irene. Jan offers the best
sandwiches and cinnamon rolls in the county. Her restaurant is a
favorite stop for many travelers on the road between Reno and points north.
Her gardens, next door to the restaurant, have become a favorite site
for local weddings
About 12 miles north of Cedarville is the wooded
and secluded town of Lake City, which sits at a bend in the road, just at
the foot of the Warners. The only business in the town is the US
Post Office. There are more willows, pines, and locust trees in town
than there are houses.
The corner of Main Street and Mill Street is forested with cottonwoods and
The Lake City
flour mill , one of the first businesses in Surprise Valley, was built in
1867-68 by John Bucher, who used hand hewn timbers secured by wooden pegs.
Bucher milled stone ground and graham flour and corn meal, with the mills
powered by creek water. The death of the last owner closed the mill in
elementary school has been converted into a private residence. Unlike
most of the town's residences, it sits in an open area on a hillside on the
north end of town.
next door to Nevada
Eagleville residents enjoy one of the most isolated and beautiful
corners of Modoc County, indeed, even of California. As
County Road 1 nears Eagleville, ranchers' homes appear more
frequently. Many Surprise Valley homes were built within a few
years of one another at the beginning of the 1900s, and share the same
"Plains Home" architecture. Many though, have a Victorian
influence in their turn of the century
styling. The valley narrows here, with the Warners Mountains to
the west and the Nevada side Hays Range is close to the east.
Winter or summer, the sunrises and sunsets here are glorious.
Many residents in
and near Eagleville are of Basque heritage, coming to
the valley to work and to raise sheep and cattle.
All Eagleville photos courtesy of Chuck Colas
In the far northeastern corner of Modoc County, Fort
Bidwell is a small and traditional community of ranchers and Paiutes.
The town, named for John Bidwell, was
established in 1865. The Bidwell fort, which operated until 1893, was one of
the last early military posts north of Benicia to be abandoned. From 1898 to
1930, the fort served as a non-reservation boarding school for Indian
children in the area.
There is nothing left of the army barracks that gave the town its name.
The Fort Bidwell school sits on a hill north of town,
Fort Bidwell children are bused to Cedarville.
mother Katie Steele Neer and her two sisters, Rhoda and Grace taught at the
school in the 1920s. Katie lived 90 miles away in Adin, and
traveled home on weekends, sometimes in a horse drawn sleigh. (Rhoda
later taught in Newell at the WWII concentration camp. Like
Like Lake City, Fort Bidwell is
wooded and secluded.
Several homes are located along Bidwell Creek, which flows through the
center of town.
of the loveliest gardens in Fort Bidwell belongs to Susie Fee. More
photos celebrating her talent will follow soon.
the southern end of Goose Lake
The Davis Creek area was developed in the 1920s with hopes of apple
orchards and small farm subdivisions. There are a few ancient trees left, but most are gone.
Davis Creek, like other towns in Modoc County, is a small ranching and farming
community. Horses graze in town lots and cattle forage in bordering
The Davis Creek store serves as a gathering place for the
local people. There is a small restaurant, which serves excellent
homemade food. The cheeseburgers are outstanding. The mercantile
offers gasoline, groceries, and drygoods. The owners are friendly and
eager to share county lore with visitors.
Creek--on the Oregon border of Modoc County
New Pine Creek lies just over Fandango Pass from Fort
Bidwell. On the state border, part of New Pine Creek is in
California, and part in Oregon. The community is the
gateway to two beautiful mountain lakes: Lily Lake and Cave Lake, and
the shores of Goose Lake. Several antique
businesses and a general store are active in the town.
A few miles south of New Pine Creek is Stringer Wild Plum Orchard and
Winery. It is worth a stop for their excellent preserves and syrups.