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Lassen County, California facts for kids

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Lassen County, California
Lassen County
Lassen County Courthouse
Lassen County Courthouse
Official seal of Lassen County, California
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
Country United States
State California
Region Northeast California
Incorporated 1864
Named for Peter Lassen
County seat Susanville
Largest city Susanville
 • Total 4,720 sq mi (12,200 km2)
 • Land 4,541 sq mi (11,760 km2)
 • Water 179 sq mi (460 km2)
Highest elevation
8,741 ft (2,664 m)
 • Total 32,730
 • Density 6.934/sq mi (2.677/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (Pacific Daylight Time)

Lassen County is a county in the northeastern portion of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 34,895. The county seat and only incorporated city is Susanville. Lassen County comprises the Susanville, California, micropolitan statistical area. A former farming, mining and lumber area, its economy now depends on employment at one federal and two state prisons; the former in Herlong and the latter two in Susanville. In 2007, half the adults in Susanville worked in one of the facilities.


Lassen County was formed on April 1, 1864 from parts of Plumas and Shasta counties following the two-day conflict known as the "Sagebrush War", also called the Roop County War, that started on February 15, 1863. Due to uncertainties over the California border, the area that is now Lassen County was part of the unofficial Nataqua Territory and Roop County, Nevada during the late 1850s and early 1860s.

The county was named by European Americans after Peter Lassen, along with Lassen Peak, which is in adjoining Shasta County. Lassen was one of General John C. Fremont's guides, and a famous trapper, frontiersman and Indian fighter. He was murdered under mysterious circumstances near the Black Rock Desert in 1859, and his murder was never solved.

By the 1880s small towns began to spring up all over Lassen County. Bieber developed at the north end of the county, in rich farm land. Gold was discovered at Hayden Hill, and the small town developed to support the miners. Hayden Hill no longer exists: when the mining stopped, the townspeople left for other communities. Madeline was formed at the north end of another rich farming valley, and along the railroad tracks heading north to Alturas, California. This community still has about 50 people living in and around the town.

A narrow gauge railroad, the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway, ran through Lassen County from 1880 to 1927. The NCOR was the longest small gauge of the century. It was intended to connect Reno, Nevada to the Columbia River, but only 238 miles (383 km) of track were laid, from Reno to Lakeview, Oregon.

In 1913 the Fernley & Lassen Railroad was built and it was used to export timber from the large forests of Lassen County. As this railroad was completed, the Red River Lumber Company set up shop, building the town of Westwood, California to support its massive logging operation. Two other lumber mills followed the Red River Lumber Co. They built their mills in the county seat of Susanville. The Lassen Lumber and Box Company and the Fruit Growers Company both operated mills in Susanville for several decades.

In 2003, Redding-based Sierra Pacific Industries, announced plans to relocate or lay off 150 workers as they closed the last lumber mill in Susanville, due to the lack of large timber for the mill. Sierra Pacific chose to close the mill permanently rather than spend the several million dollars required to convert the mill from large to small timber.

Since the late 20th century, three prisons have been opened in and near Susanville: California Correctional Center (minimum security, 1963) and High Desert State Prison (California) (maximum security, 1985), both in the city; and the nearby Federal Correctional Institution, Herlong (opened 2007). In 2007, half the adults in Susanville worked in one of the three prisons. In "job-starved rural America, ... residents see them [prisons] as the last and only chance for employment after work at the lumber mill or the dairy dries up."


Hog Flat Reservoir
Hog Flat Reservoir covered in snow during early April

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 4,720 square miles (12,200 km2), of which 4,541 square miles (11,760 km2) is land and 179 square miles (460 km2) (3.8%) is water. Part of Lassen Volcanic National Park extends onto a western corner of the county.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas



Places by population, race, and income


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 1,327
1880 3,340 151.7%
1890 4,239 26.9%
1900 4,511 6.4%
1910 4,802 6.5%
1920 8,507 77.2%
1930 12,589 48.0%
1940 14,479 15.0%
1950 18,474 27.6%
1960 13,597 −26.4%
1970 14,960 10.0%
1980 21,661 44.8%
1990 27,598 27.4%
2000 33,828 22.6%
2010 34,895 3.2%
2020 32,730 −6.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2015

The 2010 United States Census reported that Lassen County had a population of 34,895. The racial makeup of Lassen County was 25,532 (73.2%) White, 2,834 (8.1%) African American, 1,234 (3.5%) Native American, 356 (1.0%) Asian, 165 (0.5%) Pacific Islander, 3,562 (10.2%) from other races, and 1,212 (3.5%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6,117 persons (17.5%).


As of the census of 2000, there were 33,828 people, 9,625 households, and 6,776 families residing in the county. The population density was 7 people per square mile (3/km2). There were 12,000 housing units at an average density of 3 per square mile (1/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 80.8% White, 8.8% Black or African American, 3.3% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.4% Pacific Islander, 3.2% from other races, and 2.7% from two or more races. 13.8% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 13.8% were of German, 12.1% Irish, 10.5% English, 8.7% American and 5.0% Italian ancestry according to Census 2000. 88.2% spoke English and 10.3% Spanish as their first language.

There were 9,625 households, out of which 35.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.8% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.6% were non-families. Of all households, 24.5% were made up of individuals, and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 21.8% under the age of 18, 10.8% from 18 to 24, 36.9% from 25 to 44, 21.4% from 45 to 64, and 9.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 168.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 192.2 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $36,310, and the median income for a family was $43,398. Males had a median income of $37,333 versus $26,561 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,749. About 11.1% of families and 14.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.1% of those under age 18 and 7.8% of those age 65 or over.



Susanville Municipal Airport, Herlong Airport and Westwood Airport are general aviation airports in the county.

Major highways

Public transportation

Lassen Rural Bus (LRB), operated by the Lassen Transit Service Agency, runs a local service in Susanville, and longer distance routes to Westwood and Doyle.


The Lassen Municipal Utility District (LMUD) is the primary electric utility in the county, and was created in 1986 by purchasing transmission facilities from CP National (now Pacificorp) at a cost of $19 million. In 2019 it had 42 employees, and the General Manager was Doug C. Smith. It is powered in part by the Honey Lake biomass power plant, which runs on wood waste from the nearby Lassen National Forest. The Whaleback Fire caused a significant outage in 2018.



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Lassen County.

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 Susanville City 17,947
2 Westwood CDP 1,647
3 Janesville CDP 1,408
4 Johnstonville CDP 1,024
5 Patton Village CDP 702
6 Doyle CDP 678
7 Susanville Indian Rancheria AIAN 549
8 Bieber CDP 312
9 Herlong CDP 298
10 Litchfield CDP 195
11 Spaulding CDP 178
12 Clear Creek CDP 169
13 Milford CDP 167
14 Nubieber CDP 50

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Lassen para niños

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