Modoc County

Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler

This week we return to the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada, California’s gold country, to meet more of the bold, sometimes brazen women who made their marks early on. Appropriately enough, the U.S. senator who introduced legislation that led to the Nineteenth Amendment (and women's right to vote) lived in Nevada City. World-class soprano Emma Nevada was another well-known native. Locally famous was gambler Eleanor "Madame Moustache" Dumont. Scandalous internationally was Lola Montez of adjacent Grass Valley. 

Jeannie Stafford USFWS

We head up the road this week to Sage-Grouse country. California just happens to take in the far western edge of the Great Basin, high plateaus known for sagebrush and wide open spaces. California is the far edge of home for the Greater Sage-Grouse, which lives only in the West, nibbling at and nesting in sagebrush.

Photo used courtesy of National Park Service

Native peoples called the high Modoc Plateau area "the smiles of God," a strangely fitting name for this lonely remnant of the Old West. One good reason to visit the remote Modoc Plateau is to study now obscure California history. The lava caves and craggy volcanic outcroppings at Lava Beds National Monument enabled charismatic “Captain Jack” and his Modoc band to hold out against hundreds of U.S. Army troops, with superior arms, for more than three months before being starved into defeat in 1873.

Former Modoc County Sheriff Bruce Mix will be remembered at a celebration of life ceremony Saturday.

Mix died July 17. He was first elected sheriff in 1986 and served five different terms.

Mix was maybe best known for his opposition to then-Governor Pete Wilson’s decision to parole serial rapist Melvin Carter in 1994. When Mix retired in 2003 he served as president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association. His service will be held Saturday at the Redding Elks Lodge at 11:00 a.m.

Gov. Jerry Brown has made a couple of supervisor appointments. Sixty-eight-year-old Barbara LeVake of Yuba City has been named the Fifth District representative on the Sutter County Board of Supervisors. LeVake is a former supervisor, having served from 1989 to 1992. She is also a member of the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency, the Farm Bureau and the Western Growers Association.