Take me Back to 100 Years Ago

By Eileen Majors

Photo courtesy of USGS

I often think of what it would have been like to step off the train in Westwood a hundred years ago. The hustle and bustle of this newly built logging town was brimming with excitement while also building a sense of community that would indeed endure a hundred years. Hard working families endured the harsh winters, even reveling in the joy of living life in the great outdoors. As a team they had cut this small town out of the forest, built lumber mill operations and set up an amazing dis- play of culture, arts and entertainment in the tiny town. Eventually a theater, a bakery, a men’s club and even what many would call California’s first shopping mall would be built. Named The Big Store, it offered ev- erything from fishing poles to automobiles, even mink stoles. This small town afforded many a luxury such as an opera house and theater.

But it would now be Spring of 1915. Mt. Lassen, having experienced a series of eruptions over the past few years, was about to make its big eruption, devastat- ing Lassen Peak. On the evening of May 14, 1915, glowing blocks of lava were seen tumbling down the sides of Lassen Peak from as far away as Manton, 30 kilometers to the west. On the afternoon of May 22, a giant eruption would take place, one that would be seen from as far away as Eureka.

Join our communities in commemorating this event with History Tours and Treasures. The celebrations will take place May 8 and 9 in Westwood, May 16 and 17 in Indian Valley and at Lassen Volcanic National Park May 22 – 24. Chester will host their celebration on May 30 and 31 with History Mysteries all month long.

There are many fun things going on, one of which is a reading by “Mrs. Walker” in Westwood. Sheri Binswanger will play the part of Mrs. Walker, a member of the town’s founding Walker family. The presentation will include amazing pictures of The Big Store, The Men’s Club and many more photos showing Westwood in its early days.

Read more about the many celebrations going on throughout the Almanor Basin and at Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park in the full story on pages 25-27.

Also, don’t miss our next edition May 15, featuring a cool history presentation marking the 100th anniversary of the 1915 eruption.

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