Visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park has always been something I wanted to do. I have pictures of my parents at this park in 1942 after my Dad was drafted and sent to Chico Army Air Corps. They were there when huge snowbanks lined the sides of the roads. We didn't see snowbanks but we did hike through quite a bit of snow on the trails to get to the thermal areas.
In May 1914 Lassen Peak burst into eruption beginning a 7-year cycle of sporadic volcanic outbursts. The reawakening of this volcano profoundly altered the surrounding landscape. The area was made a national park in 1916 because of its significance as an active volcanic landscape. Before the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens in Washington, Lassen Peak was the most recent volcanic outburst in the contiguous 48 states. The peak is the southernmost volcano in the Cascade Range.
This area is studded with small lakes and forested with pine and fir and it boasts a few streams.
The geothermal features of Sulphur Works, Bumpass Hell and Devils Kitchen are getting hotter. Scienteists think that Lassen Park and Mount Shasta are the most likely candidates in the Cascades to join Mount Saint Helens as active volcanoes.
The man who named Bumpass Hell lost a leg from falling into the boiling water. Be sure to stay on the trail and boardwalks.
The first look at Lassen Volcanic Park figures what is the park: rough and desolate slopes of mountain with burnt soil and fumaroles nested among tall forest of various pine trees. However we would get a surprise from our attempted visit of Lassen Volcanic Park!
At first look, I felt that this Cadillac was much younger than the Fords and the Buicks, especially as it had no brass lights but nickel plated (chromium plated ?) lights. Though, it seems that it was a 1912 Cadillac. I feel that brass lights were still the rule for “ordinary” vehicles. A Cadillac had to be more modern (it was the first car with an electric starter) and equipped with nickel plated lights.
I had to make some more photos of this outstanding Buick.
Photo 1 is a close up on the secondary light, looking like a lantern
Photo 2 shows the lantern with the brass horn
Photo 3 shows the huge wings elegantly followed by a wide marche-pied.
Photo 4 shows the dashboard and the steering wheel, everything in brass.
This other Buick seems to be also a model 10 but built in 1909. It is larger than the previous one and more over looks more luxurious: it has an amazing amount of brass.
Photo 1 shows two large headlights and two smaller ones, plus two brass horns.
The first Buick made for sale was built in1904. I have identified this Buick as model 10 from 1908, which would mean that it is among the oldest cars produced by Buick and still running. It seems that the wheels are made of wood but as they are painted, I cannot be sure.
Most cars had a plate “historic vehicle”, either issued in California or in Oregon (second photo) but one of them had a more specific plate “horseless carriage”! (first photo).
The name “horseless carriage“ was the original name for vehicles marketed before WW1. They are now also named "Brass Era automobiles" because they extensively used brass for lights and radiators (see following tips and photos)
This amazing engine is also a Ford T but built as a truck. I have not determined which year it was built but it is obviously one of the older ones as it has wooden wheels and the spare tire is not mounted on a rim.
The famous Ford T, produced from 1908 to 1927 (15,000,000 cars, altogether!) was there, of course, and there were even several of them.
Photo 1 is a gold colored Ford T with a shining brass radiator.
Photo 2 is a close up on the radiator of a car that is almost the same but with its body painted in a smart black paint.
Photo 3 is a convertible in a bright red paint.
Photo 4, from side and 5, from rear is another smart hard top.
Though these old cars were all in perfect condition, the climb was hard for them and we were lucky that they had scheduled to rest for a while at the parking lot of Bumpass Hell Mudpots. That allowed us to have a closer look at these historical vehicles. Some of them were outstanding.
However, soon, our attention to the mudpots was disturbed by an unexpected sight. On the road came the amazing sight of a turn-of-the-century car that reached the pass. Moreover, the steam that escaped from the mountain seemed to escape from the car! (photo 1)
And then came a second one (photo 2) and several others lead by a Ford T (photo 3).
That looked like a rally of old cars from California and Oregon and definitely, we would look at the show and leave more Lassen for another visit!
Bumpass Hell Mudpots is along the main Park road. It is a thermal area where there are plenty of foul smelling fumaroles and mudpots, hence the name “Hell”. Mudpots are holes in the solid ground where hot gasses bubble through boiling mud. Visitors must stay on the areas that are allowed. It is very dangerous to trespass and you can be very severely burnt.
Photo 2 shows a mudpot.
The lowest part of Lassen Volcanic National Park is heavily forested with various species of pines. On the left, in the background, a cinder cone is an almost perfect cone.
However I took this photo not because of the landscape (though it is worth it) but because the road sign “Mt Conard” sounds a very usual swear word for French speakers, used especially when one driver shouts at another driver! Something like “idiot”
It is not a real surprise to find Smokey Bear at Lassen with all the fumaroles !
Smokey Bear figure was coined in 1944 to warn about forest wildfires. You will find it at most if not all State Parks. If you want to know more about the history of Smokey Bear, visit this Pennsylvania website.
It became soon so popular that it has been registered by the US Secretary of Agriculture and is now a Trade Mark. Besides the figure that actually gives the level of fire hazard, there is a whole series of derivate articles on sale : Smokey Bear Gifts, Smokey Bear Wear, Smokey Gear, Smokey Plushes, etc…
You can find them at the website of Smokey Signals.
Most people visit Lassen Volcanic National Park during the summer months when the park is "crowded" (I was told Lassen gets as many visitors in a year as Yosemite gets in a month). I suggest a visit in the winter, when a 10 minute walk on snowshoes gets you into your very own national park. The road is plowed to the southwest parking lot, a great location to begin your winter forays into the park. You need to bring your own snowshoes, and reading up on avalanches is a good idea if you are going into the backcountry. For snowshoe novices, I suggest following the park road as far as your body can handle (its all uphill going, and downhill coming back). There are marked winter trails going to Forest Lake and Ridge Lakes, the winter edition of the park newspaper has a 3-D map with the trails starting with the winter 2007/8 edition.