The Dedication

On June 12, 2004, two major initiatives at Lava Beds National Monument came together in the joint dedication of a new VisitorCenter and a new Research Center. The dedication took place in the Visitor Center parking lot, where a stage, bedecked in red white and blue had been erected. Booths and exhibits ringed the parking lot, showing off the activities and programs of many of the organizations that are active in the Lava Beds and the Tule Lake region .

Lava Beds National Monument sits within the ancestral homeland of the Klamath Tribes, including the Modoc, and the park is devoted in equal measure to interpreting the region's volcanic geology and the Modoc War of 1872-1873. The Visitor Center gives full weight to the historic role of the Modoc and to their culture. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Klamath Tribes were a major presence during the dedication.

The Winema 4-H Color Guard started things off under a crystal blue sky by raising the flag and leading the assembled crowd in singing the National Anthem. Klamath Tribal Chief Allen Foreman then spoke about the often difficult relations between his tribe, settlers and the American government. His thought provoking presentation stressed the ongoing need for mutual respect and understanding and thanked the monument for its collaborative spirit. Following an invocation in Klamath by elder Gerald Jackson, his grandson demonstrated traditional dancing to the beat of a drum circle.

Then, with Park Superintendant Craig Dorman as Master of ceremonies, the speeches began. First was a historical perspective on the Klamath Basin by Cindy Wright, CEO of the Tulelake - Butte Valley Fair and life long local resident. She was followed by Randy Darrow, the Mayor of Tulelake, who spoke about partnerships in the community . Janet Sowers, head of the CRF project at Lava Beds , next explained how CRF came to raise the money for a Research Center. Lastly, National Park Service Director Fran Mainella reflected on the value of strong cooperation between the government and private sectors.

When all the speech making was done, it was at last time to cut all red tape. Janet Sowers joined Craig Dorman, Fran Mainella, and Siskiyou County Supervisors Joan Smith, and together they cut the ribbon, officially opening the Visitor Center.

On Time and $1 Million Under Budget

The new Lava Beds National Monument Visitor Center replaces the small, cramped facility that had served the park for thirty years. Originally intended as a temporary structure, the two used trailers had been dragged to the site and disguised with wooden siding. Over the course of the next 30 years, the building was repeatedly remodeled and added on to. In 1996, at the park's request, Siskiyou County inspected the building and found it in serious violation of modern building code requirements. Had it not been federally owned, they would have condemed it.

With the old Visitor Center deemed a threat to public health and safety, building a new one became imperative. Several other old buildings on the site were likewise well past usability, and they too were scheduled for demolition. These buildings lay over the top of several caves, so the Cave Research Foundation conducted a site study to help the Monument select a new location. Following an extensive design and review process, Diversified Contractors of Klamath Falls Oregon began construction in the the spring of 2002. Both the CRF and the USGS contributed to the design of exhibits, which were constructed in parallel with the building. By spring of 2003, the new facility was serving visitors.

Park Personnel Greet Visitors In New Visitor Center

State of the Art Exhibits Enhance the Visitor's Experience


Winema Color Guard Raises the Flag

Demonstration of a
Traditional Klamath Dance 

The Fire-Rescue Team provided a bodacious bar-b-que lunch. People spent the rest of the day touring the new Visitor Center, enjoying a display of artwork by young park visitors and checking out the exhibit booths. The monument hosted two exhibits, one with information about the park, and the other explaining the Frie Management program. Neighboring Modoc National Forest also had a booth. The Cave Research Foundation and the Lava Beds Natural History Association were both on hand to explain their programs and activities. Additional exhibits included the Klamath County Museum, the Tule Lake - Butte Valley Fair Museum of Local History, Klamath Basin Birding Trail, and the Cascade Civil War Society, Several local artists and craftspersons, including a group of basket makers, also exhibited their crafts.

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Page last updated 02/24/2005