Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Enlarged into a fortified blockhouse in
June 1854, Roop's Fort is Susanville's oldest structure. Today
it is home to the William H. Pratt Memorial Museum on Weatherlow
Street. It was formerly the log built trading post built by Isaac
N. Roop in the spring of 1853 after be arrived in the Honey Lake
Valley on horseback from Shasta. Susanville was originally founded
as Roopville, until the name was change to honor Roop's daughter,
These new residents found that they needed
some type of government for their new home and established the
Territory of Nataqua. It was perceived that the area was outside
the jurisdiction of California and the Utah Territory (Nevada
having not been formed yet.) By the early 1860s, with a survey
of California boundaries, it was discovered that Honey Lake area,
including Susanville, was part of the California and belonged
to Plumas County. The citizens were not pleased with the fact,
since a part of their independent nature was due to their isolation
being cut off from the rest of the State by the Sierra Nevada
mountains, nor were they pleased with the fact that now they
were being forced to pay taxes. These ensuing events led up to
the Sagebrush War, a two-day skirmish fought in Susanville in
February 1863 between the residents and the Plumas County Sheriff
and Tax Officials. The blockhouse, now named Fort Defiance, with
its "garrison" of 100 men, played a leading role in
the bitter conflict, . The boundary dispute was resolved when
the California-Nevada line was run northward from Lake Tahoe,
east of Honey Lake Valley. However, hard feelings persisted until
the California Legislature, on April 1, 1864, created Lassen
County with its Seat at Susanville. The county was named after
Peter Lassen. Lassen was a Danish emigrant who came to this state
in 1840 and spent his last years prospecting the Honey Lake Valley.
He was murdered in 1859 on an expedition in the Black Rock Desert.
Roop's Fort / Fort Definance
by Justin Ruhge
Fort Defiance is Susanville's oldest structure.
It was enlarged into a fortified blockhouse in June 1854 and
today is a museum at Weatherlow Street. The Fort was formerly
the log-built trading post erected by Isaac N. Roop in the spring
of 1853 after he arrived by horseback from Shasta. The Fort,
about 20 by 30 feet of logs, was built in the summer of 1854
by Isaac Roop, Ephraim Roop, William McNaull, Captain William
Weatherlow and others and was known by the emigrants as Roop's
House. The meadow where Roop's House was located was a welcome
stopping place on the Nobles Emigrant Trail, pioneered by William
H. Nobles in 1851 and first used in 1852. Here, emigrants enroute
to the Northern California gold mines were able to rest, feed
and water their stock, and obtain needed provisions.
The early settlers believed that they
lived too far east to be in California so they formed the State
of Nataqua, a Native American word meaning woman or wife, at
the Roop House on April 26, 1856. Peter Lassen was named president
and Isaac Roop was secretary. In 1859, Isaac Roop was elected
as the first Provisional Territorial Governor of Nevada Territory.
There were many conflicts about the border. In 1863 a border
dispute, known as the Sagebrush War, erupted between California
and Nevada, and the Fort played a leading role in the bitter
conflict, ultimately settled by a compromise.
Camp Johns or Pollock was a
temporary post established by Nevada troops in July and August
of 1864. It was located in the center of Susanville, adjacent
to Roop's Fort. Captain Almond B. Wells, with Company D, 1st
Nevada Territorial Cavalry, from Fort Churchill Nevada, set up
a base camp there. From this point, they toured the areas of
northeastern California and northwestern Nevada. They returned
to Fort Churchill on August 28. As a result of this exploration,
the boundary dispute was resolved when the California-Nevada
line was run northward from Lake Tahoe, east of Honey Lake Valley.
However, hard feelings persisted until the California Legislature,
on April 1, 1864, created Lassen County with its seat at Susanville.
Roop's Fort is registered with the California
State Historical Resources Commission as Landmark No. 76.