Fort Janesville (No. 758 California Historical Landmark)

Native American attacks were common in the Gold Rush era and beyond as population into California increased and the Native Americans were pushed out of territories they had occupied for thousands of years. The Battle of Pyramid Lake, also referred to as “The Ormsby Massacre,” prompted the construction of Fort Janesville in 1860 as protection from settlers from another prospective Indian attack.

The fort was named after Jane Bankhead, the wife of an early settler. The Native Americans never attacked the Fort Janesville and closed a few years after it was built. The post office was open between 1861 and 1864. Janesville has also been called “Gas Light” and “Lassen.”  Janesville today features a view on what life was like during the 1860s: a life punctuated with determination to survive in a remote area.

Susanville is the Lassen County seat, winning the title over Janesville by a single vote.

The historical marker is located on Main Street in Janesville,  one-tenth of a mile north of the Janesville Elementary School.

Lassen County

High in the northeastern Sierra is Lassen County, where volcanic activity has shaped the landscape captured in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Peter Lassen, a Danish immigrant, came to Oregon in 1839 and later settled in the northern Sacramento Valley. He returned to Missouri and led a 12-wagon emigrant train along “Lassen Emigrant Trail” in 1848 into California.

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Latitude: 40.296564 Longitude: -120.524112 Elevation: 4237 ft

About this Establishment

California Historical Landmarks Program

Historical Landmarks are sites, buildings, features, or events that are of statewide significance and have anthropological, cultural, military, political, architectural, economic, scientific or technical, religious, experimental, or other value. Historical Landmarks are eligible for registration if they meet at least one of the following criteria:

1) Is the first, last, only, or most significant of its type in the state or within a large geographic region

2) Is associated with an individual or group having a profound influence on the history of California

3) Is a prototype of, or an outstanding example of, a period, style, architectural movement or construction or is one of the more notable works or the best surviving work in a region of a pioneer architect, designer or master builder.

California’s Landmark Program began in the late 1800s with the formation of the Landmarks Club and the California Historical Landmarks League. In 1931, the program became official when legislation charged the Department of Natural Resources—and later the California State Chamber of Commerce—with registering and marking buildings of historical interest or landmarks. The Chamber of Commerce then created a committee of prestigious historians, including DeWitt Hutchings and Lawrence Hill, to evaluate potential landmark sites.

In 1948, Governor Earl Warren created the California Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee to increase the integrity and credibility of the program. Finally, this committee was changed to the California Historical Resources Commission in 1974. Information about registered landmarks numbered 770 onward is kept in the California Register of Historical Resources authoritative guide. Landmarks numbered 669 and below were registered prior to establishing specific standards, and may be added to the California Register when criteria for evaluating the properties are adopted.

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Time Period Represented



Major William Ormsby was my 2nd great granduncle. They built Ft. Janesville after the Pyramid Lake war where my great, great, great uncle was killed. David Bricker of Janesville.

RadarDave, 10/11/2012

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