Monday, September 16, 2013

Lassen Volcanic's Loomis Museum named for Mae Loomis, daughter of photographer Benjamin Franklin Loomis

The historic Loomis Museum is located at the northwest entrance of the Lassen Volcanic National Park. It is also named Loomis Visitor Center. Together with the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center at the southwest entrance, the Loomis Museum belongs to the landmark buildings along the Lassen Park Road, which connects the two museums by winding through the park and providing access to interesting sites and trailheads including those for Kings Creek Falls, Bumpass Hell and Lassen Peak.

The Loomis Museum—originally called Mae Loomis Memorial Museum—is named for Mae Loomis, the daughter of Estella and Benjamin Franklin Loomis: the museum premises were the home of Estella and Benjamin, who donated it to Lassen Volcanic National Park in 1929 and named it in honor of their daughter, Louisa Mae, who died at age 20 during an an influenza epidemic in 1920 [1].

Today, the family name “Loomis” is mostly associated with Mae's father (shown in portrait), a native of Illinois, who came to Tehama County in the early 1860s and established a logging and lumber business in the Manzanita Lake region [1,2]. B. F. Loomis chronicled eruptions of Lassen Peak, a plug dome volcano, between 1914 and 1921. An interpretive panel summarizes the Loomis Legacy:
The enthusiasm, talent, and dedication of Benjamin F. Loomis helped bring a national park into existence. His legacy started with the photographs he took, which today still spark understanding and awe of Lassen Park's historic eruptive events. In 1926 he published the Pictorial History of the Lassen Volcano, to “give the sightseer a clearer idea of what has occurred.” And in 1927, in memory of their daughter, he and his wife Estella built the Mae Loomis Memorial Museum and Seismographic Station [...] to showcase Benjamin's photographic records and monitor ongoing volcanic activity. 
The panel further mentions that the Loomises retained the right to live on the museum premises, built an art shop there and spent their summers selling photographs and assisting visitors to the volcanic landscape. Mr. Loomis died in 1935 and Mrs. Loomis in 1953.

During the summer months, the Loomis Museum offers ranger-led programs, videos and exhibits related to Lassen Peaks's eruption history and Lassen Park's geology, including rock specimen such as the Bumpass Hell sulfurous andesite and Sulphur Works quartz-pyrite pseudomorph.

Keywords: traveling, history, photography, documentation, renaming, volcanic activity.

References and more to explore
[1] Dottie Smith: Travelin'n in Time: Images of eruption made name for Benjamin Loomis. October 28, 2010 [].
[2] Tim I. Purdy: Lassen Volcanic. Lahontan Images, Susanville, California, 2009; page 67.

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