Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Susanville in northeast California celebrates its ranching, logging traditions; good ale

Downtown Susanville, Calif. (City of Susanville website)
Many RVers travel along US 395 on their way to and from Arizona and the Pacific Northwest or Canada.  In northeast California you'll pass near Susanville, a small historic town nestled in a mountain valley at 4,400-feet. It sits about 90 miles north of Reno, Nevada, and about 90 miles east of Red Bluff, Calif.

This is a perfect place for RVers to stop for a few hours to visit the local historic railroad depot or pull over for the night and enjoy a Lassen Ale draft at the local brew pub--Pioneer Saloon, "the oldest operating business in northeast California."

Here are a couple places to tempt you off the road:

Inside Railroad Deport
Susanville Railroad Depot and Visitor Center
601 Richmond Rd., Susanville, Calif.
Located at the head of the Bizz Johnson National Recreational Trail this restored railroad depot offers a visitor center and a museum. Free.
Hours: Monday thru Friday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
(530) 257-3252.

Roop's Fort / Lassen Historical Museum
105 N. Weatherlow St., Susanville, Calif.
Open to the public Monday through Friday during the summer.
The fort is the oldest structure in the town. The museum houses exhibits chronicling the last 170 years in Susanville's history. This small museum hass plenty of information on local history. The museum docents were helpful and informative. Take the time to stop by.
(530) 257-3292.

Pioneer Saloon
Lassen Ale Works at the Pioneer Saloon
724 Main St., Susanville, Calif.
(530) 257-7666

"The Pioneer Saloon, established in 1862, is the oldest operating business in northeast California. The bar, building and its large, exterior vintage neon sign are beloved local icons. People come in to take a seat at the 36-foot-long bar, ostensibly the longest in northeast California, and admire the display of hundreds of hand painted ranch brands representing generations of Lassen County cattlemen and women. The back room features a historic mural, one of many in Susanville, but the only one located inside a building, that celebrates the ranching and logging traditions of Lassen County," according to the Sierra Nevada Geotourism's website.

Lassen Ale Works at the Pioneer Saloon opened in May of 2012. The owners "dreamed of creating a warm, welcoming brew pub in a historic building that would become a community gathering spot and provide a boost to the economy. The four felt lucky to find this historic western saloon, steeped in history, with its rustic appeal still intact."

The Lassen County Fair
Lassen County Fairgrounds in Susanville, Calif.
The summer's biggest event comes in the form of a great old fashioned county fair. Live entertainment, 4H competition, Parades.
Third week in July.
(530) 251-8900.

For places to park your rig, check out RV Park Reviews. 

-- Sources of information and photos: Sierra Nevada Geotourism, City of Susanville, Lassen County Chamber of Commerce. Lassen Ale Works at the Pioneer Saloon.

-- Julianne G. Crane
To read more about the RV lifestyle, go to RVWheelLife.com

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pioneer photographer Evelyn J. Cameron, one of immigrant ‘women brave enough, sturdy enough’ to live on Montana's frontier

Photographer Evelyn J. Cameron with wolf pup. (Montana Historical Society)
 Evelyn Jephson Cameron was among the thousands of women who immigrated from Europe in the closing years of the 19th century to help ‘homestead’ the West.

It is written that she gave up a life of wealth and privilege in England when, in her mid-20s, she moved with her husband, British ornithologist Ewen Cameron, to America's frontier in eastern Montana.

Evelyn J Cameron with “Lexie” her favorite camera.
"Evelyn Cameron thrived in two vastly different social strata. A story of surrendered privilege and of hardships known only to those women brave enough, sturdy enough to live on the Montana frontier of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s,” according to the Evelyn Cameron Heritage website.

"The story tells of an amazing woman who befriended wild animals such as coyotes, antelope and wolves. Finally, it’s the story of the birth and evolution of a great American artist – born in the most unlikely place imaginable.”

"She preferred not having servants and reveled in doing her own housework, gardening, and ranch tending. When Ewen and Evelyn's attempt to raise polo ponies failed miserably, Evelyn took to photography as a way to earn a living. From her photographs, it is obvious that she admired the ingenuity and propensity for hard work that characterized the Montana pioneer" (Lucey, xvi).

Cameron photographs her friend, Janet Williams, tending cattle.
Her 35 years of diaries recorded daily life in Prairie County from 1894 until her death at the age of 60 in 1928.

Her written words and thousands of black-and-white photographs (taken and processed under crude conditions) detailed life on the high prairie of Montana at the turn of the 20th century.

According to Montana Public Broadcasting, Cameron "photographed the changing face of Montana horse and cattle drives, sheep herding, the wool trade, the railroad, and the arrival of homesteaders.”

Evelyn Cameron feeding a sparrow hawk (first published in 1908)
Cameron personified the strength and perseverance of early pioneer women. She thrived in the area's rugged beauty and the freedom life on the prairie afforded her as a woman. It was where women and men worked side-by-side to survive under rough and challenging circumstances.

Ornithologist Ewen Cameron with pet wolves, Tussa & Weecharpee.
Cameron would document everything from weddings to immigrant sheep shearing crews, to technological milestones. "To take her pictures, she often rode horseback for 50 miles or more and frequently climbed precipitous mountains on foot with her heavy camera equipment strapped to her back."

A witness to the end of the open range and the height of the railroad, Cameron's view of the prairie is one that should not be missed. You can view hundreds of her photographs at the Evelyn Cameron Heritage in Terry, Montana.

If you go

- Evelyn Cameron Heritage, 212 Laundre Ave., Terry, Montana. (406) 635-4966.

- Information about: Terry, Montana

- Prairie County Fair -- Aug.5-7, 2016

More information on Evelyn Jephson Cameron
- "Evelyn Cameron : Montana's frontier photographer,” by Kristi Hager, (2007).
- "Meetings with Mrs. Collins: Sketches of life and events on Montana's open range; from the diaries of frontier photographer Evelyn Cameron, 1893-1907,” by Colleen Elizabeth Carter, (2008).
- "Evelyn Cameron: Pictures from a Worthy Life” first aired on PBS, Sunday, March 1, 2009. Written, directed, filmed and produced by John Twiggs, KUFM-TV/MontanaPBS.

-- Julianne G. Crane
To read more about the RV lifestyle, go to RVWheelLife.com

(Photo Source: Montana Historical Society. Click on images to enlarge.)