National Register of Historic Places in Shasta County
Benjamin Franklin Loomis, who was born in Illinois in 1857, accompanied his parents to California in a covered wagon while he was a child. The family settled in Colusa, later moving to Red Bluff.
At the age of 18, Loomis came to Manzanita Lake where he built a small cabin. He made shakes for roofing and worked as a farm laborer during winters in Battle Creek Bottoms. Loomis later built another small cabin on Manzanita Creek along the old emigrant road below the Manzanita Chutes.
In 1886-1887 he spent a year as a student at the American Institute of Phrenology in New York City.
In 1891, Loomis homesteaded on the present site of Viola. In 1896 he built a store there which was patronized by the sawmill workers. The following year he married Estella Loomis. Loomis developed a business hauling freight to Viola and shakes from there to the Sacramento Valley, while his wife tended the store and operated the Viola post office.
On May 30, 1914, Mount Lassen began to erupt. Loomis, an amateur photographer, photographed the eruptions and documented his experiences with the volcano in writing.
In 1926, Loomis and his wife began to construct a museum at Manzanita Lake to document the volcanic eruption exhibit historic artifacts of the local Indian tribes and pioneer white settlers. The museum was dedicated on July 4, 1927.
In 1929, Loomis deeded the museum, the adjoining seismograph building, and forty acres of land on which they stand to the National Park Service.
Source: Adapted from the NRHP nomination submitted in 1975.