From Redmond, Oregon we took Route 97 south to LaPine, then east on 31 past Summer Lake to 395 south thru Lakeview to Alturas, California.
We began this year’s trip to Arizona on March 12th. We left Redmond after some last minute packing and drove about 245 miles before stopping at Sully’s RV Park in Alturas, CA. The name Alturas is Spanish for “valley on top of a mountain”.
As you can see from the pictures the RV park is a small, very clean place to overnight. The Modoc County Historical Museum is located at the southeast corner of Main Street and County Road 56. The town is very small so you won’t have any trouble finding the RV Park or the Museum. In fact, there is an old Southern Pacific steam engine train engine on the corner next to the museum.
If you’re into WWll trivia, On January 10, 1945, a balloon bomb was shot down approximately 30 miles west of the town.
Modoc County is a land which the Indians called “The Smiles of God” and so intense was their love for this land of ragged lava plateaus, fertile valleys and towering mountains that many hundreds of these aboriginal inhabitants defended it to their death against the invasion of the white man. Because of those fierce Indian wars between 1848 and 1911, this area was once referred to as the Bloody Ground of the Pacific.
The Applegate Trail
1996 marks the 150th anniversary of the Applegate Trail, the southern route of the Oregon Trail. It was blazed in 1846 as an alternate, and hopefully safer route to Oregon. Established in October of 1846 by the Applegate brothers, this trail brought settlers into southern Oregon country and through the dreaded Modoc lands. The land between Goose Lake and Tule Lake was the scene of many an Indian foray on early wagon trains. Modoc tribes and frontier officials estimated 412 pioneers met their doom here between 1846 and 1852 alone.
The Applegate Trail was a wilderness trail through today’s U.S. states of Idaho, Nevada, California, and Oregon, and was originally intended as a less dangerous route to the Oregon Territory.
In 1853 alone over 3500 men, women, and children took this route. Today, Interstate 5 and Highway 66 travel the same route. The Applegate was designated a National Historic Trail by the US Congress on August 3, 1992. Known as the southern route of the Oregon Trail, the Applegate Trail provided an alternative for settlers who wanted to avoid the perils of the Columbia River. Not all settlers appreciated the trail some even felt the Applegates had hindered rather than helped them on their way.
Time proved the real test, however. After nearly 150 years the Applegate Trail endures as the basis for the state’s major transportation routes, allowing today’s traveler the opportunity to retrace the steps of Oregon’s early trailblazers.
The wildlife pictures were taken as we drove on County Road 115 by the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge as we headed south on the back road from Sully’s RV Park to reconnect with route 95
One interesting piece of information……..the cranes in the pictures are Sandhill
Cranes (Grus canadensis). The Sandhill is a species of large crane of North America and extreme northeastern Siberia. The common name of this bird refers to habitat like that at the Platte River, on the edge of Nebraska’s Sandhills on the American Plains. This is the most important stopover area for the nominotypical subspecies, the lesser sandhill crane (Grus canadensis canadensis), with up to 450,000 of these birds migrating through annually.
Misc Notes: These cranes frequently give a loud trumpeting call that suggests a French-style “r” rolled in the throat, and they can be heard from a long distance. Mated pairs of cranes engage in “unison calling.” The cranes stand close together, calling in a synchronized and complex duet. The female makes two calls for everyone from the male.
Sandhill cranes’ large wingspans, typically 1.65 to 2.29 m (5 ft 5 in to 7 ft 6 in), make them very skilled soaring birds, similar in style to hawks and eagles.[Using thermals to obtain lift, they can stay aloft for many hours, requiring only occasional flapping of their wings and consequently expending little energy. Migratory flocks contain hundreds of birds, and can create clear outlines of the normally invisible rising columns of air (thermals) they ride.
What I found interesting was the fact that the Sandhill cranes have one of the longest fossil histories of any extant bird. A 10-million-year-old crane fossil from Nebraska is said to be of this species, but this may be from a prehistoric relative or the direct ancestor of sandhill cranes and not belong in the genus Grus. The oldest unequivocal sandhill crane fossil is 2.5 million years old, older by half than the earliest remains of most living species of birds, primarily found from after the Pliocene/Pleistocene boundary some 1.8 million years ago.
OK, not sure where we’ll stay tonight, but we’ll let you know in the next post.