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Cressler and Bonner Trading Post, 1865 (No. 14 California Historic Landmark)

Historic Site or District
Cressler - Bonner Trading Post Marker – By Syd Whittle, May 11, 2008

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.

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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Cressler and Bonner started the first mercantile establishment in Modoc County, here, in the first building erected in the town of Cedarville. The building was originally built by James Townsend in 1865, who was killed by indians shortly after its completion. Purchased by William T. Cressler and John H. Bonner in 1867, the building was used as a trading post and general store until larger quarters were constructed in 1883-84. Today, those quarters, the Cressler and Bonner Building dominate Main Street in Cedarville. Thier business thrived as thousands of emigrants passed through this area heading toward Cedar Pass and ultimitely to Alturas during the Gold Rush.

The mercantile, banking and ranching firm of Cressler and Bonner played a major roll in the settlement and development of Surprise Valley and Modoc County. The original trading post stands as the oldest structure in Modoc County to date. It remains tucked within a magnificent grove of trees planted by the original owners, in a park in the center Cedarville.

John H. Bonner was also instrumental in securing the construction of the first road spanning from Cedarville to Alturas; it was later named the Bonner Grade. This route, which became an important stage and freight road, was maintained by Bonner until 1871, when Siskiyou County took it over.

The plaque inscription reads:

The first building erected in Deep Creek settlement, now Cedarville, was built in 1865 as a trading post by James Townsend, who was killed in an Indian fight it 1866.

The historic landmark and remains of the original log trading post are housed in Cedarville's Park. The land for Cedarville Park was donated to Modoc County by descendants of Mr. Gressler in 1957 and the building was reconstructed in 1977 with funds provided by The State Recreational Bond Act of 1974.

Modoc County

Through Modoc County, the northeastern corner of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, thousands of early emigrants traveled in search of newly discovered gold during the Gold Rush of the mid 1800s. Prior to settlement, this region was inhabited only by Paiute, Pit River (“Achumawi”), and Modoc tribes. As settlers flocked in to California, battles with the Modoc Indians over territory and resources stained this area’s history in bloody conflict. The Modoc War (1872–1873), fought here, was the last of the Indian Wars to occur in California.

Time Period Represented

Mid 1800s

Nearby Places