One of the most interesting and beautiful trails in the United States is
in Lassen County. The Bizz Johnson Trail begins at Lassen Street,
travels through Goumaz (go-mez) and past Westwood for over 30 miles. It
is a popular place to hike, bike, horseback ride, cross country ski,
picnic, swim, fish, and camp.
The trail began as the Fernley and Lassen Branch of the Southern
Pacific Railroad built between Westwood and Fernley, Nevada. The
railroad had to cross mountains. The route was chosen because it was low
in elevation. Two tunnels and 12 trestles were built.
The main purpose of the Red River Lumber Company in Westwood was to
carry lumber, not passengers. Lumber was shipped all over the world. The
railroad wasn't built to Susanville, but rather through Susanville to
The railroad reached Susanville in April, 1913, and Westwood in
February, 1914. An old railroad box car was used as the original depot until the Susanville depot was finished in September, 1913. It was expanded in 1927. The original depot burned down in 1989. The 1927 depot
was to be burned down as a training exercise for the fire department.
Citizens complained to the Susanville City Council and it was spared. It
is now owned by a group called Lassen Land Trails and Trust and it
still stands today.
The train carried lumber from Westwood until 1952 and continued
carrying passengers there until 1956. That year a flood destroyed a
major bridge. The Southern Pacific didn't use the train between Westwood
and Susanville for 22 years. The railroad carried passengers to
Susanville until 1933. The railroad to Susanville and the depot were
used for freight shipping until 1979. Shipping by trucks is now more popular than train.
In 1978, Southern Pacific abandoned
the railroad line. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Forest
Service (USFS) and community organizations like Lassen Land Trails and
Trust changed the rail line to a recreational trail. This project was known as "Rails to Trails."
How did "Rails to Trails," become named the "Bizz Johnson Trail?" It was named for Harold T. "Bizz" Johnson, our Congressman for 22 years who helped change the rail line to a trail. In 1983, the trail was named for Congressman Johnson.
The most popular part of the trail is a seven-mile stretch from the
Depot on Richmond Road to the Devil's Corral Trailhead. On this part of
the trail are views of the Susan River, wild life, 12 railroad trestles, and two tunnels. The elevation begins in Susanville at 4,200 feet above sea level and rises to 5,500 feet in Westwood.
Across the street from the depot sits a caboose. It is unusual that a Western Pacific caboose would sit on an old Southern Pacific railroad line because they were competitors. On the trail is Hobo Camp. It was named for hobos
who camped there because it was close to the tracks where they hopped
trains to travel from place to place. This is now a picnic, fishing, and
1. List three things you would like to do on the Bizz Johnson Trail?