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Northern California Region
Modoc National Forest
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800 West 12th Street
Alturas, California   96101
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Located in the northeastern corner of California, lies the Modoc Naitonal Forest. It's about a three hour drive from Reno, Nevada, and about the same distance from Redding, California. The Modoc National Forest is bordered on the east by a spur of the Cascades known as the Warner Mountain Range, and to the west by a plateau region of forest meadows, Western Juniper timber, lakes, rolling hills, lava beds, and open range land. Elevations range from 9,934 feet to 4,300 feet.
History of the Area
Modoc National Forest in northeast California is a land of rugged beauty, a land of "burnt out fires" according to its Indian occupants. The Pit River valley, the lake basins, the mountains and the high plateau have attracted a variety of peoples and cultures to this area.

For nearly 10,000 years people have lived on these lands and have adapted to its environment. In order to understand the patterns of the lives of these people, heritage resource managers study the relationships between people, their cultures and the Forest environment.

By carefully studying the bits and pieces of the materials left behind by these peoples in the sites where they lived, archaeologists can begin piecing together and interpreting the great unwritten story that lies on and within the ground.

Native American Use - The ethnographic territories of three different Native American groups lie within the boundaries of the Modoc National Forest. These groups are the Modoc, the Achomawi (Pit River), and Northern Paiute.

All three groups, and their earlier predecessors, used and depended upon a variety of resources in the Forest. The rivers, streams and lakes provided abundant runs of suckers and the water lily-wokas; the Devil's Garden plateau provided epos and other plan foods, in addition to deer, antelope and other game; the mountains and highlands offered other plants for food, basketry and medicines. Abundant obsidian sources provided a wealth of glassy stone for tools and for trade.

Members of these groups continue to practice many of their traditional ways Contemporary Native American use of the Forest includes spiritual guests and the gathering of food, medicinal, and basketry materials.

The first emigrant party to venture through the area was 1843 consisting of 13 men on horseback lead by Joseph Chiles. In 1846, the brothers Jesse and Lindsey Applegate blazed an emigrant road from southern Oregon to the Oregon Trail at Ft. Hall, Idaho. In 1848 Peter Lassen followed this route to Goose Lake and then broke off to the south blazing the Lassen Trail. Assisting Lassen in the final stretch was Peter Burnett and his axe-swinging Oregonians who had just carved out a road from southern Oregon off the Applegate Trail.

The U.S. Government sent explorer John C. Fremont through this area in 1846 and topographical engineers conducting surveys for possible railroad routes in 1849, 1854 and 1855.

The first Euroamerican settlers came to Surprise Valley in 1846 and by 1871 most valleys in Modoc County were settled. Hostilities with local Native Americans defending their land and life ways came to a head with the Modoc War of 1872-1873. A group of Modocs, led by Captain Jack, and consisting of only 57 warriors, held off a large force of Army, volunteer militia and Indian scouts before ultimately being captured.

Forest Established - Cattle ranchers and Basque sheepherders, like the Indians, turned the Modoc landscape to their favor. Ranchers raised hay in the fertile valleys and grazed cattle on the high mountain meadows and the vast Devil's Garden in the summer. Homesteaders utilized lumber cut from timber tracts by numerous small family run saw mills.

Overgrazing later prompted settlers to petition the U.S. Government to create the Warner Mountain and Modoc Forest Reserves in 1904 which later became the Modoc National Forest in 1908.

By the 1930s logging operations increased with logging railroads and company towns and camps like Tionesta and Long Bell Camp One. Also during this era young men enrolled in President Franklin Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps which constructed roads and other improvements across the Forest.
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From Alturas, the forest can be reached via state highways 395, 299 or 139.

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