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Photo Courtesy of B.
Modoc County was formed when Governor Newton Booth signed
an Act of the California Legislature on February 17, 1874.
Land for the county was taken from the eastern part of
Siskiyou County. The county derives its name from the Native
American Modoc people, who lived at the Klamath River
headwaters. One historian suggests that the word modoc means
"the head of the river." Another states that the word is
derived from the Klamath word moatakni meaning
"southerners," i.e., the people living south of the Klamath
tribe. The county was home to three major tribal groups, the
Modoc, the Achumawi (or Pit River), and the Paiute. The
Modoc were forcibly moved first to Oregon, and then to
Oklahoma, while the Achumawi and Paiute were allowed to
remain. Settlement of the county began in earnest in the
1870s, with the timber, gold, agriculture, and railroad
industries bringing most of the settlers into the area. The
county was a crossroads for the Lassen Applegate Trail which
brought settlers north from Nevada to the Oregon Trail and
south to trails leading into California's central valley.
Early settlers included the Dorris,
Scherer, Trumbo, Flournoy,
and Campbell families. Several thousand
acres just south of Newell served as the temporary exile for
thousands of Japanese-American citizens during World War II
at the Tule Lake War Relocation Center, a Japanese American
internment camp. A historical marker still stands along
California State Route 139 in Newell. Tule Lake was the
largest of the "segregation camps." On November 8, 2005
Senator Dianne Feinstein called for the camp to be
designated a National Historic Landmark.
Klamath County, Oregon -
Lake County, Oregon
Lassen County, California -
Shasta County, California
Siskiyou County, California -
Washoe County, Nevada
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