TULELAKE, California — Images from the Modoc War of 1872-73 will be discussed in a presentation scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the Merrill Historical and Modoc War Museum. The museum is in the Merrill City Hall, 301 E. Second St. in Merrill. The event is free and open to anyone who is interested in attending. 

The program, titled “Imagery of War: Artists, Photographers, and the Modoc War,” is sponsored by the Merrill Museum in partnership with Lava Beds National Monument and the Klamath County Museum. 

“The Merrill Museum is fortunate to have a complete set of photos taken by two photographers who visited the Lava Beds in 1873,” said Todd Kepple, museum director for Klamath County. “We’ll be taking a close look at those images, along with artist etchings that were reproduced in newspapers across the country and even in Europe.” 

Louis Heller, a photographer based in Yreka, Calif., took numerous portrait photos of Modoc participants shortly after hostilities ceased. His images include pictures of Captain Jack and other Modocs who were eventually executed at Fort Klamath. 

“These images are both striking and haunting to look at today, considering what those men had endured,” Kepple said. “Mr. Heller performed a great service by making the trip to the Upper Klamath Basin and persuading officials to allow him to take the pictures.” 

The Merrill Museum also has a complete set of stereoscopic photos taken by Eadweard Muybridge, who was commissioned by the U.S. Army to capture photos of Army personnel, Indian Scouts, and battlefield scenes in the Lava Beds. The photo collections were donated to the Merrill Museum by George Simmons and the Fioch family. 

During the Jan. 17 program, two former National Park Service employees, Eric Gleason and Jacqui Cheung, will present photos they took following a 2008 fire that swept across the Lava Beds. They took numerous photos of the same locations visited by Muybridge in 1873. While photography had been invented well before the Modoc War, technology had not yet been developed for reproducing photos in newspapers. Instead, newspapers and magazines reproduced etchings carved by artists to show war scenes.

“A lot can be learned about how newspapers and magazines represented the conflict to their readers,” said Matt Voelkel, curator at the Klamath County Museum. 

Numerous examples of such etchings related to the Modoc War will be shown and discussed at the Jan. 17 program. 

The program can be viewed live online. To request an invite to the Zoom presentation, contact the Klamath County Museum at (541) 882-1000. 

This program is part of an ongoing series of presentations related to the 150th anniversary of the Modoc War. The next event, “Perspectives on the Modoc War: Why It Still Matters,” will feature a group of historians in a panel discussion set for Feb. 25 at the Klamath County Museum. 

Additional programs are being planned for March and April.  For more information, call the park at (530) 667-8110 or visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/labe 

The main U.S. Army encampment at the Lava Beds is shown in this artist rendering produced in 1873.

Pictured left to right is Shacknasty Jim, Hooker Jim, Steamboat Frank, Modoc Indians; and John Fairchild, a rancher, in a photo taken shortly after the end of the Modoc War.