Canby's Cross, Modoc Lava Beds National Park.
Prisoner's Rock Degree
Fort Crook Lodge 250 F&AM
Prisoner's Rock, Modoc Lava Beds National Park
Provident Lodge No. 609 of Sacramento conferred the Third Degree on Edison C. Abel, (of Sacramento), Secretary of the State Agricultural Prorate Commission, on July 9, 1938, on what is known as Prisoner’s Rock, in the Modoc Lava Beds in Modoc County, California.
There is a 60-acre plat of ground within the walls of lava, which at one time was evidently part of an active volcano. The walls of lava rise on all but one side to heights of from 50 to 100 feet above the floor of the crater. The cone is open on one side where the molten lava flowed to the valley below, making a convenient door for tiling purposes. The Tilers and Registrars were within the opening, and on the high walls surrounding the site were several Tilers guarding all side of the nature-made lodge room.
The degree was made possible by dispensation from the then Grand Master, James Thomas Fraser. Roscoe L. Clark, Master of Provident Lodge who conferred the degree, was the moving spirit in this project, having made and perfected all arrangements with the assistance of the officers and members of Canby Cross Lodge 679 at Tulelake.
The tiler's register kept that night shows 743 Master Masons from 28 states and the Philippine Islands. After the Lodge was opened, Ralph Ganger,
Master of Canby Cross Lodge, introduced the following distinguished visitors: Leon O. Whitsell, Deputy Grand Master and acting Grand Master; Lloyd Wilson at that time assistant Grand Lecturer and now Past Grand Master and Grand Secretary; Gilbert C. DeForest, assistant Grand Lecturer and now Past Grand Master; Elwood H. Beemer, Grand Master of the State of Nevada; C. A. Carlson, Jr., Senior Grand Warden and now Past Grand
Master of Nevada; Leslie M. Stanford, Grand Steward of Nevada; Robert H. Parker, Past Grand Master of Nevada; Augustus F. Aymar, Past Grand Master of Nevada; W. C. Watson, Grand Marshal and afterwards Past
Grand Master of Nevada; E. H. Van Patten, Past Grand Master of Washington and Alaska (Van Patten had been a Mason for 67 years and was at the time ninety years of age); E. B. Beaty and R.W. McNeal, Deputy Grand Masters of Oregon. Beaty subsequently became Grand Master.
The Masons present seated themselves on the ground among the sagebrush, some having wisely brought cushions or blankets. Hardly had the brethren seated themselves, when pistol shots were heard a half mile to the east of the improvised Lodge room, followed by blood curdling yells of Indians and the beat of horses hoofs, and there dashed into one corner of the Lodge room a white man closely followed by five Indians naked to the waist and decorated with war paint.
The Indians apparently took the scalp of the white man. This created some commotion, many of the brethren not sensing the real significance of this rude intrusion. After the actors were properly clad, had saluted the Master and were introduced, they invited the visitors to picnic on the lava beds the next day. The pale face was C. Alex Clements, President of the Tulelake Chamber of Commerce, and the Indians were Ray Laird, Dick Smith, Fred Fisher, F. E. McMurphy and L. J. Horton, of Tulelake.
One feature of the entertainment took place between the sections of the degree when Lucille Ehorn, soprano, from Sacramento, dressed in white buckskin, as an Indian maiden, sang the "Indian Love Call" from Rose Marie. The male response to her call was sung by Ransome Gifford, of Sacramento, who had sung in the Metropolitan Opera.
The setting for this unusual presentation was against a cliff of lava, some 250 yards from the Masonic group. At a quiet point, the assembly heard the faint
beat of a tom-tom from the dark recesses of the cliff east of the assembly, and then the cliff was flooded with the brilliant blue rays from a battery of spotlights.
On Sunday morning, those desiring went on a tour of the historic Modoc Lava Beds and stopped at Indian Wells for a picnic luncheon.