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Historical Society Readies New Museum Exhibits for Summer: Open House May 3rd

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

New displays at the museum include memorabilia, historic photographs and a US. Forest Service flight suit worn by Susanville’s pioneer aviatrix Mary Barr.

A SusanvilleStuff Feature
By Jeremy Couso

The Lassen Historical Society is busy getting ready for the museum’s summer season with new exhibits, a return to extended hours and a big open-house on Friday, May 3rd.

The festivities will start at 5:00p.m. in the grassy area at the museum, located next to Roop’s Fort, at 115 North Weatherlow Street.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Susan Roop’s arrival in Susanville. The town, of course, was named to honor Susan by her father Isaac Roop. His cabin, built as a trading post in 1853 and called ‘Roop’s Fort’ or ‘Fort Defiance’ after the Sagebrush War of 1863, is one of the historical treasures of our area.

The open house at the museum will feature living history with local historical figures represented in costume. The recipient of the Historical Society scholarship will be announced and Emily Fluke will entertain everyone with her amazing rendition of the National Anthem.

Johnson Family Carriages will have the historic Susanville stagecoach, an authentic local relic from 1857, hitched up and ready to go for free rides around the museum, Carol Fontana will be performing period music on the fiddle and Debbie Lucero will be in charge of refreshments.

Several new exhibits grace the museum this season including a display of memorabilia from famed local aviatrix Mary Barr.

Mary and her husband Dave operated the Susanville municipal airport for decades and ran the fixed base operation at the facility, hauling firefighters around the Northwest.

Mary Barr in the cockpit wearing the same orange flight suit on display in a new exhibit at the Susanville museum.

In 1974 she became the very first woman pilot with the Forest Service and worked at the California North Zone Air Unit as a lead plane pilot.

Barr’s incredible aviation career began in 1944 when she dropped out of college and learned to fly in a Piper Cub, earning her private and commercial pilot ratings while working nights at a factory to pay for the flying lessons.

She moved to New York during World War II to attend aircraft mechanic’s school and work on aircraft.

Her long and storied career included service as a FAA pilot examiner and accident prevention counselor and in 1964 Barr notably became one of the first four women to compete in the National Air Races in Reno.

She later moved to the Forest Service’s Regional Office in San Francisco, acting as an Aviation Safety Officer. From there she became a National Aviation Safety Officer and then returned to Sacramento to act as Regional Aviation Officer until her retirement.

She continued to fly for pleasure well into her 70’s and in 2001 was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame and honored by the Smithsonian National Air and Space museum.

On display at the museum are photos from Barr’s career, memorabilia from the Susanville Airport and her orange flight suit, worn during her operations and reconnaissance for the Forest Service.

New to the museum this year is a display of handcrafts, laundry implements and vintage sewing and lace-making devices.

Another interesting new foray into Susanville’s past is the museum’s handcrafted decorative arts, laundry and sewing display. Come see the unique collection of vintage washing machines, lace-making, ironing and sewing related pieces.

Summer hours for the museum begin next week and are 10:00a.m. to 4:00p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturdays the museum is open from 11:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. For more information about the event call 257-3292.

If you are a fan of local history you should join the Lassen Historical Society! Membership is open to anyone with an interest in the history of our area.

Through your membership you help preserve local history, while at the same time making a tax-deductible contribution. You can download a membership application by clicking here.


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