The Modoc County Historical Museum is located at the southeast corner of Main Street and County Road 56 in Alturas, California. The museum is open seasonally from May to October, Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and is closed Sunday and Monday. Numerous excellent displays can be seen about various aspects of Modoc County life.
The museum was established in 1967 when the Board of Supervisor purchased the private collection of Marc and Myrtle Belli. The Bellis, long-time residents of Alturas, had been collecting historic artifacts since 1926. Their acquisitions included hundreds of Indian artifacts, pioneer artifacts, historical pictures and papers, and most notable, an impressive collection of guns. The gun collection was begun around 1870 by Nathan Rogers, of Merced, California, and had been continued by his son, Charles Rogers, until his death in 1932. At that time, Mr. and Mrs. Belli bought the Rogers collection and added it to the antiquities they had already collected. The Bellis private museum was housed in the attic of their home on West Carlos Street where many hours were spent in gathering, identifying and preserving the antiques and artifacts.
In 1966, a group of Alturas businessmen purchased the Bellis collection with the intention of establishing a public museum for the viewing pleasure of residents and visitors of Modoc County. Their dream became a reality when the Board of Supervisors purchased the collection in 1967. The museum was housed in the Veterans Memorial Building in Rachael Dorris Park, and opened to the public in 1968 under the guidance of its first curator, John Wistos. Since then, hundreds of historical items have been donated to the museum and the collection has become an outstanding representation of Modoc County and pioneer history.
The dream of having a fully secure museum building was realized in 1979 with the aid of California Bond Act monies and a generous bequest in the Belli will. The museum continually received historical donations and soon needed more space. Through the grant program established under the California Parks and Recreation Act of 1984, the museum built an addition that more than doubled the space available.
The museum houses a large collection of artifacts and firearms including handguns and rifles from the 15th century to the post-World War II era. Rotation of displays keeps local as well as out-of-the-area visitors returning.
The Kober's Drygoods Store displays a variety of items from 1888, when Henry Kober established his store, until after the death of his daughter Elsie, whom continued the business until her death in1984. The Kober's Drygoods building can still be seen today in Fort Bidwell, California.
Native Americans - Three cultures lived in Modoc: Pit River, Modoc and Paiute. Artifacts on display depict the native life-styles in Southern Oregon, Eastern Nevada and Northern California, dating from the 19th century to over 8,000 years ago.
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