Nature Notes From Crater Lake
Volume 10, No. 1 - June, 1937
Outline of Events in the
History of the Modoc War
By Don C. Fisher, Assistant Chief Ranger and John E. Doerr, Jr.,
Beginning with this number of Nature
Notes from Crater Lake National Park, and continuing through Volume
X which will be issued during the summer months of 1937, Nature Notes
will present an Outline of the Events in the History of the Modoc War.
In preparing this outline the authors have described briefly the
important events in the development of south central Oregon and
northeastern California during the period 1846-1873. That period was one
of constant struggle between the white settlers and the Modoc Indians.
There were acts of treachery, murders, massacres and numerous councils,
culminating in the Modoc War of 1872 - 1873. The most important battles
of the war took place in the area of what is now the Lava Beds National
Monument in northeastern California. The places where important events
of the war took place are among the most interesting features of the
Monument. - Editor
(click on image for an enlargement in a new window)
1846 - 1870
||South Emigrant Trail
(Applegate Trail) established.
accompanied by fourteen other settlers in the Willamette and
Rogue valleys in western Oregon, established the South Emigrant
Trail between a point on the Oregon Trail near Fort Hall, Idaho
and the Willamette Valley. The purpose of this new route, shown
on the map on the opposite page, were to encourage settlers to
western Oregon, to eliminate the hazards encountered on the
Columbia Route, to provide an alternate route in the event of
trouble with England, Hudson's Bay Company controlled the
Columbia Route, and to provide a route which would be open
except for a short winter season each year.
From what is now Dalles, Oregon,
the Applegate party went south up the Willamette Valley, through
the Umpqua and Rogue River valleys to a point near what is now
Ashland, Oregon. From there the party proceeded eastward,
crossing the Cascade Range near Green Springs Mountain, to
Spencer Creek near the present town of Keno, Oregon. From there
a route was selected around the south end of Lower Klamath Lake,
then northward along the high ground between Lower Klamath Lake
and Tule Lake to a ford on Lost River ("Stone Bridge"). Passing
north of Tule Lake and Clear Lake the party continued eastward
to Goose Lake, then southeast across the Black Rock Desert to
what is now Winnemucca on the Humboldt River in Nevada.
Following up river about 200 miles, then continuing northeast,
the party reached Hot Springs Valley on the Oregon Trail, about
50 miles southeast of Fort Hall, Idaho.
The first emigrants to reach
western Oregon by way of the South Emigrant Trail arrived in the
fall of 1846, having been conducted west by the Applegate party
on their return from Hot Springs Valley.
Lindsay Applegate and his party
were the first white men to enter what is now the Lava Beds
National Monument. On their exploring trip eastward they
attempted to pass around the south end of Tule Lake but the
rough lava along the shore forced them to seek a route around
the north end of the lake. Visitors going to the Lava Beds
National Monument by way of the road south of Merrill, Oregon,
cross Lost River at the "Stone Bridge" over which hundreds of
emigrants passed on their way to western Oregon. A monument near
the bridge records the names of the men in the Applegate party.
Many of the events of the Modoc
War took place along the South Emigrant Trail.
||Modoc Indians molested
emigrants on the South Emigrant Trail.
|The Modoc Indians,
numbering about 600 warriors under the leadership of Old Chief
Schonchin, inhabited the region around Lower Klamath Lake, Tule
Lake, and Lost River in northern California and southern Oregon.
The Modoc Indians were part of the Klamath tribe, a division of
the tribe having taken place many years before the first white
men came into the region.
|California became a state in
||First massacre of emigrants by
Modoc Indians at Bloody Point.
|In September the
Modocs destroyed an emigrant train at Bloody Point on the east
shore of Tule Lake. Of the 65 persons in the train only three
escaped immediate death; two young girls, taken prisoners and
killed several years later by jealous Modoc women, and one man
who made his way to Yreka, California. Hearing the news of the
massacre, Yreka settlers organized a party, under the leadership
of Jim Crosby, to go to the scene of the massacre to bury the
dead and avenge their death. Crosby's party had one skirmish
with a band of Modocs.
||Modoc Indians continued to
harass and massacre emigrants on the South Emigrant Trail.
||Ben Wright Massacre.
and massacres of emigrants by the Modoc Indians aroused settlers
at Yreka, California to send out a party under Ben Wright's
leadership. Accounts differ as to what actually took place when
Wright's party finally met the Indians on Lost River. Both the
white men and the Indians anticipated treachery. Each group
planned to exterminate the other. To prevent the gathering of
the entire tribe which would result in his party being greatly
outnumbered, Wright attacked, killing approximately 80 Indians.
This loss broke the power of the tribe but kindled the Modoc
hatred for the white people, a hatred which flamed up many times
in the years following.
continued to harass and massacre emigrants on the South Emigrant
|History does not
record the actual number of emigrants killed nor the number of
wagon trains destroyed. It has been estimated that at least 300
emigrants and settlers were killed by the Modoc Indians during
the years 1846 to 1873.
|Oregon became a state in 1859.
||Fort Klamath established.
|This fort was
built by Captain William Kelly, Co. "C" 1st Oregon Cavalry. It
was built on the trail between the Upper Klamath Valley and
Jacksonville, Oregon. Fort Klamath remained an army post until
1889 at which time it was abandoned. The paved highway between
the present town of Fort Klamath and Annie Spring, in Crater
Lake National Park, and west to Medford follows closely the
route of the old military road built across the Cascade Range by
soldiers stationed at Forth Klamath. Some of the early events in
the history of Crater Lake occurred in connection with the
building of the military road.
||Treaty between the United
States and the Klamath, Modoc, and Snake (Yahooskin band)
The Klamath Reservation established.
|Under the terms of
this treaty the Modoc Indians, with old Chief Schonchin as their
leader, gave up their lands in the Lost River, Tule Lake and
Lower Klamath Lake regions, and moved to the reservation in the
Upper Klamath Valley. Approximately 160 Modoc Indians under the
leadership of Keintpoos (Captain Jack), refused to move to the
reservation even though they had agreed to do so in signing the
treaty. It was Captain Jack's band of Modocs that caused the
trouble which precipitated the Modoc War. The majority of the
Modoc tribe under Old Chief Schonchin remained on the
reservation, taking no part in the Modoc War.
||Captain McGregor, Commanding
Officer at Fort Klamath, made and unsuccessful attempt to get
Captain Jack and his band to the reservation.
||Lindsay Applegate, Agent on
the reservation, failed in an attempt to get Captain Jack's band
to the reservation.
||Captain Jack's band of Modocs
continue to harass settlers in the Lost River Valley.
J. W. Perit Huntington, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for
Oregon, made an unsuccessful attempt to get Jack's band to the
First building erected on the site of Linkville (Klamath Falls,
Oregon) by George Nurse and Edgar Overton.
||Captain Jack and his band of
Modocs moved to the reservation.
|This move was
accomplished following a council between Captain Jack; A. B.
Meacham, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Oregon; O. C.
Knapp, Agent on the reservation; Ivan D. Applegate, Sub Agent at
Yainax; and W. C. McKay. Talk at the council accomplished
nothing. When troops suddenly appeared at the meeting place the
Indian warriors fled, leaving their women and children behind.
Meacham put the women and children in wagons and started for the
reservation. "Queen" Mary, Captain Jack's sister, was permitted
to go to Captain Jack to persuade him to move to the
reservation. Her efforts were successful. Arriving on the
reservation, Jack and his band prepared to make permanent homes
at Modoc Point.
||Captain Jack and his band left
the reservation and returned to their former homes on Lost
Captain Jack and his band started building permanent homes at
Modoc Point, the Klamath Indians began to molest them, making it
necessary for the band to move to another part of the
reservation. Several attempts were made to find a location. The
Klamaths continued to harass the band until finally Captain Jack
and his followers left the reservation and returned to Lost
River. During the summer months that Captain Jack had been on
the reservation a number of settlers had taken up land in the
Lost River region.
Current Conditions at Crater Lake National Park
by Grovin Thewer)
Crater Lake Rim Webcam