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From the Files of the Lassen Historical Society: The Arnold Mill

Thursday, July 9th, 2020

The Arnold Mill at ‘the rocks’ on the Susan River with the Susanville Grammar School on the hill in the background around 1900.

By Susan Couso

The Arnold Mill, as it has been known for many years, was actually built by Lansing J. Abel, a carpenter from New York, and his partner, George W. Barley. Abel and Barley were awarded the contract to build the new Susanville Grammar School in 1873, and the mill was built to provide ‘millwork’, door and window trim, moldings etc., for the new school.

The mill sat next to the Susan River, at the bottom of the appropriately named ‘Mill Street’ where the road from Richmond crossed, and water power to run its circular saw blade was provided via a ditch and flume from about one-quarter mile up the river. Throughout its 40-plus year lifetime, its picturesque setting inspired many to take a photograph.

The Arnold Mill around the turn of the century from the Richmond Road bridge.

In 1877, the school was finished, and Abel and Barley sold the business and property to Ezra Perkins Soule, who had come to Susanville in 1864 from Ohio.

Soule, a carpenter and mechanic, worked the mill with his partner, Leroy Dell Arnold and one other employee. Arnold was the son of Alex T. Arnold, Susan Roop’s husband, and young Leroy Dell had come out west to live with his father.

Leroy D. Arnold married Ezra P. Soule’s daughter, Agnes Estella, and the families were close. Leroy D. and Estella Arnold named their son Ezra Thrall Arnold.

By 1912, the older generation was ready to retire, and the mill was sold to Ezra Arnold. He worked the mill until the early morning of August 7, 1914, when it burned.

The glow from the spectacular blaze could be seen all over town, and young Ezra Arnold suffered losses of around $10,000. He had no insurance. Ezra Arnold gave up on Susanville, and relocated in the Los Angeles area where he worked as a carpenter.

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