In Memorium: Peter Lassen

Peter Lassen Headstone 1

Peter Lassen Headstone 2

The grave and headstone and monument for Peter Lassen, after who Lassen Volcanic National Park was named, are located in a funky little semi-private graveyard outside Susanville, CA. You can see both to the right and left of the tree directly behind the gate. The building you see shelters the monument:

Peter Lassen Cemetery Entrance Gate

The link above to his grave (California Historical Landmark No. 565) contains a short overview of Peter’s life, while a much more thorough summary (with lots of pictures) that does an excellent job of reviewing his mysterious death can be found here:

Peter Lassen

I’ve been thinking about Peter lately in terms of his many “careers” as a blacksmith, rancher, guide, prospector, and so on. I remember a few years back when most people started drifting/climbing from job to job, prompting a lot of talk about a shift in the American workforce from “holding one job until retirement” to “job hopping.”

In Ken Johnstone’s book about Peter Lassen, he uses the term “Legendary Truths” to convey that most of the beliefs about Peter’s life are the result of accepting myths as truth. I think that term applies to so much more, such as the idea that changing careers is “disloyal” or (______) (choose your preferred negative term), as opposed to “reinventing yourself” or “resourceful” or (_____) (choose your preferred positive term).

Anyway, I know that the label “Jack of all Trades” insinuates “good at a lot, but not great at anything,” but it truly applies to Peter, who was better at more things than most others are at only one, and I aspire to follow his example: do a lot, and do it well.

R.I.P., Peter!


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