Fort Crook 
Saturday, May 14, 2011 at 5:11PM
Jo Giessner

Did you know the flag pole at Fort Crook was a tall yellow pine tree? Most all the limbs were taken off and some limbs on the tree were sawed to purposely make steps to the top where Old Glory floated in the breeze. The Fort Crook Reservation extended one mile in each direction from the Flag Pole. -from early history notes by Mrs. Kate Callison

1976 January 29, Inter Mountain News - Editors Note: The following is the first in a series of articles on the Bicentennial theme about historical happenings in the Fall River Valley. These articles are compiled and written by Lillian Kent and Norman Smith. Most information has been obtained from the Fort Crook Museum records.

On the county road between Glenburn and Dana in northeastern Shasta County directly beneath Soldier Mountain Lookout in Shasta National Forest is a rock memorial erected in 1934 on the spot where once stood old Fort Crook with the following inscription: 

In April 1854 the War Department ordered a reconnaissance to the Pit River Valley to check the warlike activities of the Pit River Indians and to establish a military post. But before the fort could be built the Indians massacred all the white who remained in Fall River Valley during the winter of 1856-57, destroying the ferries on the river and burning their homes.

About the middle of May 1857, Capt. Judah, with the Company E (called Forty Thieves) and 2nd Lt. George Crook with Company D left Yreka for Fall River Valley to punish the Indians. The two companies proceeded to the Lockhart Ferry site at the juncture of the Pit and Fall River. (Note: Capt Judah's Forty Thieves consisted onf 65 men. The term Forty Thieves probably resulted from the fact the regular Army men in those days lived off the land, taking whatever they needed from those who possessed it.)

These troops, while referred to as regular Army troops were a special type of soldier called Dragoons.

The post was established on about 1 July 1857 and consisted of 20 small cabins built of logs with flooring and cribbing of planks. The logs were chinked with mud. The stockade of logs was 12 feet high erected in a rectangular shape. The boundaries were designated by a tree which served as a flag pole for one mile in any direction.

The post was situated directly on the main immigrant road between California and Oregon.

The fort was named Fort Crook by Lt. Gardiner. Lt. George Crook was a man of compassion who regarded the Indians as human beings to be treated as men rather than animals, which led him to be the greatest among the frontier Army officers.

In 1861 the main body of troops were withdrawn to Fort Bidwell and were replaced by California volunteer troops under the command of Capt. Henry B. Mellon.

The fort was abandoned in 1869, and the bodies of the soldiers buried in the fort cemetery were moved to Fort Bidwell. In 1870 the buildings and land were sold. The headquarters building was later used as a schoolhouse to which many of our pioneers attended.~

1859 May 14, Shasta Courier- A man by the name of McKinney, a private in Lt. Carr's company, 2nd Dragoons, stole a government horse at Ft. Crook a few days since and deserted. The horse was recovered at Middletown, but the deserter escaped. 

1859 September 17, Shasta Courier - On the 10th instant, Lt. M.P. Carr arrived at Ft. Crook with the balance of his command amounting to 24 men, he having been recalled from Honey Lake Valley on account of the various Indian depredations being committed in Pit river Valley and vicinity.~

1859 September 17,  Shasta Courier, Shasta, California - A NEW FORT - On Saturday last, Lieut. R.S. Williamson arrived at Fort Crook, he having been ordered there by the department, to make a survey for a new fort. It is supposed it will be located about half a mile from Lockhart's Pit River ferry. The site is a good one, being well watered and timbered. There is also a sulpher spring, that has many medicinal qualities. Capt. Flint, with his company of infantry will take command of the new fort. Captn. F.'s company is daily expected.~

1865 November 25, Shasta Courier - In the 11th instant at Fort Crook, Edward Steed, s soldier stationed at that post, committed suicide by swallowing opium. The unfortunate man had been for some days acting as clerk in the Sutler's store. On that day he got drunk and threatened to kill himself. To prevent him destroying himself, he was put in the guard house. In the evening he asked permission of the guard to visit the hospital to get his clothes, which was granted. It is supposed he obtained the opium at the hospital. In the morning he was found dead with a package containing the opium close by and labeled "Steed's Poison."~

1868 August 10, San Francisco Bulletin - CALIFORNIA LAND SURVEYS - Commissioner Wilson, of the General Land Office, has just received returns of the survey of eleven additional townships in Shasta and Siskiyou counties, California, embracing an area of 276,232 acres.

. . .The Fort Crook military reserve is situated in townships 37 and 38, of Range 4 East, in Shasta County.~

1869 January 30, , Shasta Courier - "The garrison formerly at Fort Crook is now at Surprise Valley. The fort is dismantled and will probably be sold at auction by the government."~

1869 April 24, Shasta Courier,  Fort Crook - "This place, as a military post, has evidently seen its day. We are informed that all the soldiers lately stationed here have been withdrawn and sent to Surprise Valley where they will hereafter be quartered. The fort is left in charge of William Cayton."~

1870 February 26, Shasta Courier - Shasta, California - SEIZED - U.S. Assessor Mellen, recently seized an extensive whisky distillery at Butteville, Oregon, on charge of violation of the revenue law. Melen formerly commanded at Fort Crook.~

1881 February 17, San Francisco Bulletin - "The President* has approved the bill to restore the lands included in the Fort Reading and Fort Crook Military Reservations, in California, to the public domain." 

[*The President was Rutherford B. Hayes before he left office on 4 March 1881.]~

1939 December 6, Times-Picayune,Sacramento, Dec 5 - Six additional sites where the life of early California once throbbed were designated historical landmarks by the department of natural resources recently. The sites are the Old Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara County; Tapio Tapia Adobe, San Bernardino County; Bale Mill, Napa County; the town of Woodbridge, San Joaquin County; Fort Crook, Shasta County; and, Old Pacific House, Monterey County.~




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