Tag Archives: History

Texas School Girl does National History Day project on “Radium Girl” cases

In late March, I received a phone call from a high school student in Texas named Nirvana Khan. She told that she was preparing a website for National History Day 2018.

More that half a million middle and high school students and over 30,000 teachers nationwide participate in National History Day each year. This year’s theme is Conflict and Compromise.

Ms. Khan told me that for her project she had chosen the legal battles that took place from the  1920’s to the 1940’s involving young women who had suffered disastrous illnesses from radium poisoning resulting from their employment painting watch dials.

Because my grandfather, Ray Berry, had represented Grace Fryer and some other New Jersey girls in their case against US Radium Corporation beginning in 1927, she asked if we could do an interview for her project. I agreed and we had a very nice talk.

Her website Legion Of The Doomed: How The Radium Girls’ Compromise Changed Public Safety is now completed and online. Ms. Khan succinctly and fluently provides the background of the radium craze in the early part of the 20th century, covers the conflict with the corporations, describes the compromise and settlement of the case, and discusses the aftermath and effect that the cases had on subsequent labor and worker safety law. Each section is full of fascinating newspaper articles and quotes.

In her process paper for the project, Ms. Khan describes her work,

I started by reading modern news articles about their case and gradually went further to gain a sense of the historical context; this included finding pictures, quotes, and news articles from the time about World War I and the radium craze. While doing so I also stumbled on several scholarly sources such as law reviews and scientific studies on the radium girls, which helped me understand their historical significance. I was able to purchase several books, including Kate Moore’s “The Radium Girls,” which helped me gain a thorough knowledge of the women and feel like I knew them personally. From there I found many newspaper articles and photographs from their case, as well as a documentary “Radium City” where one can see interviews of the living radium girls and the families of the dead. Finally, I circled back again to modern news articles in order to properly define their legacy.

Ms. Khan also said

The lawsuit filed against the corporations is very interesting because of the  lack of regard the corporations had for their female employees, the fact that the dial painters triumphed against such stacked odds, and the revolutionary nature of the case. The compromise reached at the end of the case by both parties following the girls’ victory cleared the way for workers’ rights and compensation cases, as well as changed America’s view of radium and knowledge of radium necrosis. This led to safety measures for the public that survived through World War II and beyond.

Her website also has a 16 page bibliography that is a wonderful resource for further investigation.

Currently, she is participating in the state level History Day competition in Texas. Competition in Texas is fierce so she is not sure if she will make it to the national competition. The National History Day Competition will be held June 10-14 at the University of Maryland in College Park Maryland.

Best wishes, Nirvana Khan! I hope you win it all. You have performed a great service

See also

Case argued by Raymond H. Berry featured in new book by British author


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Filed under Burney, youth

Pictures of Heritage Day 2017

Heritage Day 2017 on Sunday October 8 was wonderful. The weather was beautiful. Great music! Cider and dutch oven goodies! Wagon rides! Folks dressed up in period costumes. Lots of fun activities from the 1800’s. I’ll let some pictures speak for themselves.

Nicki Carlisle, the Zuilleger family and the Shooting Stars


The Shooting Stars – Natalie, Katie, Tahlia, and Helaina

Here’s a link to music by the Shooting Stars at Heritage Day 2017.

North State Fiddlers


Meg with Jack and Jill


Nina Kammener, Diana Sophia Green, and Kayla Oilar




Candle making


Candle making

Making a pine doll


These girls made some fine pine dolls


Craig Harrington at Heritage Days


Manning the cider press


Veronica Sloan and Dutch Oven Cooking


Pit River Pioneer Thom Sloger with Linda Colvin at an 1840’s tent site


Pit River Pioneers


Walt Libal displaying old guns




Tug O War


Cub Scouts from Pack 38


Leos at Heritage Day

For more on Heritage Days see:

Heritage Day At Burney Falls Park 2016
Heritage Day shares the past


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Filed under Burney, Burney Falls, Burney Lions Club, Fall River Mills, Music, Pit River Country Events, Rotary Club of Burney-Fall River, youth

Intermountain Parade 2017

I went to the Intermountain Parade in McArthur on September 3. It was a fine tribute to the spirit of the people of the Intermountain area. I admired the fine horses, riders, and the wagons. tractors, and vintage cars that reminded us of our history and heritage. It was encouraging to see the various organizations who serve the community participate. Above all, it was inspiring to see the young people from Girls Scouts, 4-H, the Interact Club, gymnastics, and others who participated in the joyful occasion.

Here are some pictures:

4H Sharing flag etiquette

American Legion Honor Guard

Grand Marshall

Blue Ribbon Award Winner

Intermountain Royalty

A family event

Happy birthday from the Girl Scouts

Intermountain Heritage Foundation

Blue Ribbon Horse


Peterson Ranch

Interact Club

More Interact Club

Rawhide Cowboys

Young Cowgirl

1957 Fire Truck

Burney 4-H

An old wagon and horses

Caballeros from Burney


Here come the demolition derby cars

Lots of candy for the kids



Mustangs pulling an old freight wagon

It goes 80 mph and gets 100 miles to the gallon

A happy crew

A glimpse of the past


Meyers Memorial

The Buckhorn


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Filed under 4H, Big Valley, Burney, Fall River, Fall River Mills, Intermountain Fair, McArthur, Pit River Country Events

In Memorium – Two videos of Dave Wicks playing at the Blackberry Patch in 2012

Dave Wicks passed away on the night of December 21, 2016. During his life he had brought much joy to his family, his community of faith, and the community.

In February of 2012, Dave came with some of his friends to an open mic to the Blackberry diner and sang two songs.

Dave was one of the most talented musicians in the Intermountain area, but what he valued most was his faith and his family.


Filed under Burney, Pit River Area History

Pit River Tribe to host reader’s theatre and pot luck January 13

Click on flyer to enlarge

Click on flyer to enlarge

On January Friday 13, 2017, there will be a reading of a play entitled “Undamming History.” The event will held from 6-8 p.m. at the Pit River Tribal Community Room in the Pit River Health Services Building located on Park Ave. Burney, CA.

There will also be a pot luck dinner.

The community is invited to “Bring a dish and join an informal script read of the play about local tribal history that debuted Oct. 22 at the Cascade Theater. Have fun while learning about indigenous history!”

The Shasta Historical Society and four tribes in the area collaborated to create the work.

Marc Dadigan, Jack Potter, Louise Davis, Jessica Jim and others who were part of the committee that produced the play will be in attendance. Some of the actors who played roles at the debut in Redding are also planning to come. In addition, Patricia Lord from the Shasta Historical Society will be present and perhaps speak about the resources the society can provide.

If you would like more information on the program, please email marcdadigan@gmail.com. A copy of the script is available on the Shasta Historical Society’s website.

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Filed under Burney, Pit River Area History, Pit River Tribe

Kevin Fletcher shares about 42 years of logging

The meeting room at Gepetto’s was full as Kevin Fletcher shared stories and insights from his 42 years of experience in the logging business at the Rotary Club of Burney-Fall River on Thursday, November 17.

Kevin Fletcher talks about logging to Rotary Club

Kevin Fletcher talks about logging to Rotary Club

Fletcher’s father was a logger and he began working with him as a teenager. One of his first jobs was planting trees. When he finished high school he began work as a logger and worked in that capacity supplying a number of mills in Northern California.

Over the years the process of logging has changed. In the early 1980’s most trees were hand-cut. More men were required for skidding, loading and transporting. In the 1990’s mechanization began to replace conventional logging. Large “doodle headed” processers, chokers and grapplers are used to harvest and process the trees.

Also the size of the trees has decreased and percentage of utilization of each tree has increased. In the past sometimes large trees were left lying on the forest floor if knots made cutting difficult. In the 1980’s they didn’t take trees smaller than 12 inches. Branches and tree tops were not necessarily processed. Now with mechanization, trees as small as 6″ are harvested and the entire tree is processed. Parts of the tree that can not be used for lumber are chipped and used for fuel.

Fletcher brought pictures of trees and equipment to illustrate his talk and peppered his remarks with a number of amusing personal anecdotes.

There were a lot of questions from the audience regarding restoration of mixed forests, clear-cutting verses selective cutting, beetle infestation, the effects of the drought, and various other aspects of forest management.

Fletcher explained that companies such as Sierra Pacific uses a 100 harvesting year plan that includes reforestation, maintaining the watershed, wildlife diversity, and fire prevention . In the state of California, clear cutting is limited, but sometimes useful to provide breaks that will help prevent the spread of wildfires.

Likewise in selective cutting the age and density of the forest managed may vary depending on the needs of local wildlife. Some animals, birds, and insects like younger forests, some like older, Some like denser woods, some like thinner.

In areas burned by wildfires, the rate of decay varies but all usable wood should be harvested within one year. Also when an area is replanted, the trees are planted relatively close together for survivability, but as they grow, the forest will be thinned to maintain the health of the forest.

He also discussed the varied use different species. Ponderosa pine is good for building as well as trim. White pine is softer so more suitable for trim although there are new treatment techniques that can harden the wood for other uses. He also discussed the uses of various species of  fir.

Drought has weakens the strength of the immunity of forest areas and contributes to beetle infestation. In managing a forest the companies try to remove infested trees as quickly as possible so that infestation will not spread. A forest that has been weakened by several years of drought will take several years to recover.

It is more profitable to harvest younger trees than giant old trees because a higher percentage of the wood can be used. Therefore, old growth trees may not be harvested which also helps to maintain a degree of  bio-diversity. There are also variations in the philosophies of forest management amongst private companies, the US Forest Service, and the National Park Service.

These are some of the topics covered during the presentation and discussion. When asked if he had any advice for young people who might want to pursue a career in logging, Fletcher said that, because the income loggers make has declined over the years, he recommended that people only pursue a career in logging if they really love the work.

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Filed under Burney, Pit River Area History, Scott Lumber Company

Lieutenant Mark Lillibridge shares some parting thoughts with the Intermountain community

Mark Lillibridge has been serving in the Shasta County Sherriff’s Department for 25 years. For the past three years he has been working at the Sherriff’s station in Burney working with community relations, and training and supervising officers in the field. At the end of November he will be retiring. In this video he shares some of his thoughts and perspective as he prepares for his retirement.



Filed under Pit River Area History

Heritage Day At Burney Falls Park 2016

Teen in buckskins and a raccoon hat with three tails

Teen in buckskins and a raccoon hat with three tails

More than 1000 people came to Burney Falls McArthur Park on October 9 for it’s 27th Annual Heritage Day. From noon to 4 p.m. men, women, and children enjoyed listening to old-time music and participating and observing in a variety of pioneer crafts and activities.

Many of the folks were dressed in authentic 19th century attire.

The Burney Lions Club and the Rotary Club of Burney-Fall River shared the responsibility of directing traffic and making sure that everyone found a parking space. Parking for the day was free.

The Lions also barbecued lots of tasty burgers. Rotary helped to man the apple press which provided lots of delicious apple cider for everyone who attended.

Folks made lots of delicious cider at the apple press

Folks made lots of delicious cider at the apple press

Many volunteers from the Boy Scouts and the Leos Club were teaching and assisting at the various craft and activity stations.

The local boy scout and cub scout scouts camped the night before in the park.

Melissa Madden, activities director at Burney High School, helped to coordinate the Leos.

Lots of Leos helped with the activitites

Lots of Leos helped with the activities

Each station gave people an opportunity to learn how our forebears lived.

Children had a great time making candles,

Kids making candles

Kids making candles




and learning how to make rope from twine,



One young lady learned how to give mom a shave with a straight-razor

Giving mom a shave

Giving mom a shave

Learning to throw a tomahawk and a knife was a fun challenge.

Throwing the tomahawk

Throwing the tomahawk

Competing in a tug-o-war  on a box was a thrill.

tug-o-war on a box

Tug-o-war on a box

Ron Shannon was busy teaching people the art of blacksmithing.


Spinning wheel

Spinning wheel

Other activities included making pine-needle dolls, spinning, designing brands and branding, quill pen writing, cooking with a Dutch oven, and apple coring,

The main culinary delight of the festival was delicious apple crisp baked in a Dutch oven by  Veronica Skoan. Yummy yummy apples sliced by the kids, together with oats, brown sugar, and other seasonings cooked to blue-ribbon perfection.

Veronica Skoan baked up some delicious apple crisp in her Dutch oven

Veronica Skoan bakeInd up some delicious apple crisp in her Dutch oven

The Pit River Pioneers had a display featuring historical implements and weapons and an old pioneer tent site.

Old time pioneer campsite

Old time pioneer campsite

The tent site was erected by Stan Vigolo. Stan has been helping with Heritage Day since it began. At the first Heritage Day 27 years ago, Stan had his picture taken standing in buckskins by a large conifer. Subsequently, that photo was used by the park on a pamphlet to advertise the event. Here he is standing by the same tree at this year’s event.

Stan Vigolo by the tree he was photographed at 27 years ago

Stan Vigolo by the tree he was photographed at 27 years ago

The entire occasion was enhanced by delightful old-time music. Fiddlers, guitar pickers, bass and mandolin players, banjoists, and singers from the Intermountain area and beyond treated their audience to a broad range of classic and original bluegrass, country, and traditional folk tunes. Amongst the groups performing were the Old Time Fiddlers, Shingletown Bound, and Loosely Strung from Red Bluff.

Shingletown Bound

Shingletown Bound

A highlight of the afternoon was the presentation of Certificates of Appreciation to four local volunteers who have been long-time supporters of Heritage Day.

Catherine Camp and Ranger Mizeur recognize awardees

Catherine Camp and Ranger Mizeur recognize awardees

Supervising Ranger Brett Mizeur presents Melissa Madden with a certificate of appreciaton

Supervising Ranger Brett Mizeur presents Melissa Madden with a certificate of appreciaton

At 2 p.m. Catherine Camp, chairwoman of the McArthur-Burney Falls Interpretive Association and Brett Mizeur,  Supervising Ranger for the park, presented awards to Melissa Madden, Stan Vigolo, and Chuck Evans, and Craig Harrington.

(For more on awards see Four Local Volunteers Honored at Heritage Day.)

Ms Camp said, “We are proud to have such a wonderful community event that includes free admission, We could not do it without the help of dozens of local volunteers.”


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Filed under Burney Falls, Burney Lions Club, Pit River Area History, Pit River Country Events, Rotary Club of Burney-Fall River

Case argued by Raymond H. Berry featured in new book by British author

Some people remember Raymond H. Berry. More and more, lots of people don’t. People who moved here or were born after 1970, may not know who he was. The community swimming pool in Burney is named after him and many people wonder why and who he was.

Intermountain News March 4, 1971

Intermountain News March 4, 1971

Even those who do know what role Ray Berry played in Burney from the 1940’s into the 70’s don’t know much about his life before he moved here.

Radium Girls book

Radium Girls book

Now a British author, Kate Moore, has just published a book about a milestone legal case in which Raymond Berry plays a major role : The Radium Girls: They Paid with Their Lives. The Final Fight Was for Justice.

The book is about teen-age girls who worked in a watch-dial painting factory run by United Radium Corporation. A number of them developed horrible symptoms. Some died as a result of radium poisoning. It took awhile to determine the cause and then some of the girls wanted to file suit against the company, but no lawyer would take the case.

Then one courageous, perservering young lady went to see a young lawyer, Raymond H. Berry at his law firm in Newark, New Jersey.

Raymond H. Berry

Raymond H. Berry

It was the young lady’s last shot at achieving justice. Berry who was a fresh, quick-witted lawyer not long graduated from Yale Law School took the case.

By winning a substantial settlement for several of the young women, Berry set a precedent for occupational tort law. It was a landmark case.

Several years later, Berry became the attorney for the Starr family who owned timberland in the Burney area. He came out to Burney and helped to incorporate Scott Lumber Company and served as it’s general manager for several decades. He also helped to start the Chamber of Commerce, to negotiate the building of a railroad from McCloud to Burney, and to begin Shasta County Bank which later merged with Tri Counties bank.

I just thought I would share a little glimpse of my Grandpa Ray’s life before he came to Burney. He was in the right place at the right time when an opportunity came to him to champion a just cause and he has earned a place in history.

See also:

Texas School Girl does National History Day project on “Radium Girl” cases

For more about Raymond Berry see Alex Colvin talking with Steve and Suzie Knoch about the Berry Family and Scott Lumber Company



Filed under Burney, Pit River Area History

Robert Ingram gives talk on Fort Crook Museum at Rotary Club

At the January 14 lunch meeting of the Rotary Club of Burney-Fall River, Robert Ingram President of the Fort Crook Historical Society, gave an informative PowerPoint presentation on the Fort Crook Museum. Mr. Ingram was accompanied by the curator of the museum, Dorothy Mason and her husband Billy Mason, who is the director of the Museum.

The speaker was introduced by Rotary Club president, Bob Jehn. Mr. Ingram’s talk was laced with interesting personal anecdotes regarding events and buildings at the museum. Mrs. Mason added informative comments from her wealth of knowledge of the museum during the talk.

Following is a video of the presentation.

For more on the Fort Crook Museum see

Fort Crook Pioneer Day Reenacts History



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Filed under Fall River, Fall River Mills, Fort Crook Museum, Pit River Area History