Boom Camp on Big River in Mendocino

When I found the pics I could barely see what they were about. After playing with all the controls on my pic proggy I did somewhat enhance them:

Old photo #1 of Big River, Mendocino

Old photo #1 of Big River, Mendocino

Old photo #2 of Big River, Mendocino

Old photo #2 of Big River, Mendocino

Not good eh? Things did improve when they were converted to grayscale. I don’t know exactly where the photos were taken on Big River. However, they must have been taken 4 to 7 miles inland where the river narrows.

Boom Camp on Big River Mendocino

Boom Camp on Big River Mendocino

Jam of logs on Big River

Jam of logs on Big River

 

 

 

A Shay of the Greenwood (aka Elk) Railroad and Caspar Railroad #3 2-6-2t

This is part of a recently received e-mail:

My name is Tammy Durston – I grew up in Annapolis, went to Pt Arena High and am author of three books on the area. I am writing a fourth book featuring what the Mendo coast looked like in the past versus what it looks like now. My husband’s family has been in the coast since around 1850. I’m the family historian and have been going through old photos. My husband’s great grandfather was a train engineer in Elk and Caspar. I’ve attached a couple of photos. I wondered if you could give me any background on these engines.”

Here is the first of the two photos:

One of Greenwood Railroad Co #2, #3 or #5 Shay

One of Greenwood Railroad Co #2, #3 or #5 Shay

My reply: if you go to this page in our website  I think you will find this loco in one the top three photos. So, I think this photo is of  a Shay although I can’t tell if it is #2, #3 or #5. Toward the bottom of this web page you’ll see what we know about the Elk/Greenwood Shays. GRCO I am reasonably sure is short for Greenwood Railroad Company.

And photo number 2:

Caspar, South Fork & Eastern Railroad #3 - a 2-6-2t

Caspar, South Fork & Eastern Railroad #3 – a 2-6-2t

This one took a bit of finding.  I finally located it on our website in Issues 315-316 of the Western Railroader magazine – Caspar Lumber Company. If you click here you can bring up the entire book . Page though to page 12 and you’ll see this loco in the top photo.

Whew that took a bit Shelock Holmesing!!!!

 

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse at the end of a rainbow

This is a comment from Lynn Catlett in her Facebook page, “You know you’re from Mendocino if ………” “The rainbows we’ve been seeing on the coast lately have been pretty spectacular – but this photo from Tracy Salkowitz from this morning takes the cake.”

I absolutely agree with Lynn. Probably the most spectacular pic of Point Cabrillo I have ever seen. The pic was taken on February 10 at 8:05 AMMendocino, CA.

This somewhere over a rainbow is the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse on the Mendocino Coast

This somewhere over a rainbow is the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse on the Mendocino Coast

Click on the photo to see it full size. Thanks Lynn.

Elk which is also Greenwood – a town on the Mendocino Coast

Although the road signs say “Elk” officially it is the Elk Post Office at Greenwood. The reason for the strange appellation is that when postal codes were introduced there was another Greenwood in California so the name was sort of changed to avoid confusion.

A century ago the population was 10 times as large as today’s. Schooners from the L.E. White Lumber Co. (LEWLCo) sailed regularly from San Francisco and early tourists took the 14 hour ride for $5, dinner and bunk included. The town had ten hotels each with a saloon and there five other saloons. Each of the ethnic groups which worked in the mill: Finns, Swedes, Irish, Russians and Chinese congregated in “their” saloon.

The L.E. White offices are still in Elk. Today the offices are the local museum and the museum contains a cornucopia of logging operations artifacts and exhibits. The area around the museum was the lumber drying yard.

Elk or Greenwpod Main Street

Elk or Greenwood Main Street

The garage in Elk today was there when the mill was in operation – as were the buildings to the south in this picture taken in 1901. The building with the rounded roof in the picture  is the garage.

Opposite the garage there is a path that goes down to the sea. It all looks so peaceful now. A hundred years ago it was a hive of activity.

Chuck Ross, his brother John and his sister Lorene Christiansen have both been officers in the Mendocino County Historical Society.  Chuck grew up in Elk and has had a lifelong interest in the lumber industry there, and especially in the railroads.  Over the decades Chuck has walked nearly every mile of the railroads in Greenwood, Elk and Alder Creeks. He has even walked some stretches where the rail is still in place. These two maps were provided by Chuck.

Map of the first railroad in Greenwood

Map of the first railroad in Greenwood

The blue line shows the approximate rail route from Cuffey’s Cove to the Fred Helmke sawmill and camp – the first sawmill at Greenwood. The route was a nearly level run and Chuck would not be surprised to learn that horse-drawn cars had been used on it in the early days.  The first destination out of town was the shingle mill in Laurel Gulch, then the tracks went on down to Greenwood Creek.

Map of the L E White railroad

Map of the L E White railroad

The second map segment shows the location of the L.E. White sawmill near the mouth of the creek.  The White addition to the trackages is shown in purple with the Helmke track now shown dashed.  Sanborn maps show the connecter was abandoned between 1891 and 1894.  No record exists to tell us where the first loco, “Sausalito”, came ashore.

 

A brief history of the Caspar Mill’s Railroad and the mill’s first loco Daisy

It’s great when someone more knowledgeable than me writes about the Mendocino Coast Logging operations. Martin Hansen has certainly done that in a recent blog on his site, “Steam in the Woods.” With no further ado here is is his post:

Just 5 miles south of Ft. Bragg on the California Coast, lies the little town of Caspar. This coastal town today only has a handful of buildings left. However, in 1870 the town boasted a large sawmill and the beginnings of a logging railroad that never connected to any other rail line. Originally the railroad was animal powered and built on wooden rails. By 1875 steel rails replaced the wooden rails and a small second-hand 0-4-4T built in San Francisco in 1869 was added as the first steam power. The railroad by this time was known as the Caspar South Fork & Eastern RR.

By 1885 the mill was prospering and the railroad had been extended some 5 miles from the mill to the cutting areas. This prompted the Caspar Lumber Company to call on Baldwin to build a new locomotive for the young railroad. Here is what they got.In June 1885 Baldwin shipped C/N 7558 to San Francisco where it was knocked down and loaded onto the schooner “ABBIE” for the trip up the coast to Caspar. Once in the harbor, she was unloaded and barged to the dock where she was then hauled up the hill to the small enginehouse for re-assembly.

The engine was name Daisy when ordered from Baldwin and that name lasted her entire career. In the first photo we see Daisy when she was still new and in her factory paint. You can see the pride her crews took in her in this portrait. Daisy served very well for decades on the CSF&E and was still in service in April 1938 when she was spotted for pictures during the only railfan excursion held on the CSF&E as shown in the second photo.

While larger and more powerful engines would follow and replace Daisy on the mainline run in later years (including a pair of 2-6-6-2 Mallets) Daisy was still the pride of the CSF&E when the line quit in 1945. Because of her popularity she became the only one of the 7 CSF&E locomotives to be saved. She was originally put on display in 1948 at Camp 20 and later she was moved to Ft. Bragg where she is on display today.”

She is on display in the Museum Deli opposite the Skunk Train Depot.

These three photos were loaded with the above text:

Daisy when she was new

Daisy when she was new

Daisy after years of hard work

Daisy after years of hard work

Daisy's Manufacturer's badge

Daisy’s Manufacturer’s badge

Thanks Martin

 

 

Point Arena Lighthouse

The lighthouse at this site was constructed in 1870. The brick-and-mortar tower included ornate iron balcony supports and a large keeper residence with enough space to house several families. The April 1906 earthquake struck the light station. The keeper’s residence and lighthouse were damaged so severely they had to be demolished. The United States Lighthouse Service contracted with a San Francisco based company to build a new lighthouse on the site, and specified that it had to be able to withstand any future earthquakes. The company chosen normally built factory smokestacks, which accounts for the final design for the new Point Arena Lighthouse, featuring steel reinforcement rods encased in concrete. This was the first lighthouse built this way.

The new lighthouse began operation in 1908, nearly 18 months after the quake. It stands 115 feet tall, and featured a 1st Order Fresnel Lens, over six feet in diameter and weighing more than six tons. The lens was made up of 666 hand-ground glass prisms all focused toward three sets of double bullseyes. It was these bullseyes that gave the Point Arena Lighthouse its unique “light signature” of two flashes every six seconds. The optics, which held an appraised value of over $3.5 million, was set in solid brass framework, and was built in France.

Prior to the introduction of electricity, the lens was rotated by a clockwork mechanism. The Keepers, or “wickies” as they were called, had to hand crank a 160-pound weight up the center shaft of the lighthouse every 75 minutes to keep the lens turning. Light was produced by a “Funck” hydraulic oil lamp, that needed to be refueled every four hours, and whose wicks would have to be trimmed regularly. Later, two 1,000 watt electric lamps were installed to replace the oil lamp, and a ​18 horsepower electric motor was installed to replace the clockworks.

Below are three recent photos of the Point Arena Lighthouse.

Point Arena Lighthouse

Point Arena Lighthouse

Point Arena Lighthouse at night

Point Arena Lighthouse at night

Point Arena Lighthouse in the moonlight

Point Arena Lighthouse in the moonlight

Caspar Lumber Company and the Fruit Growers Supply Company

We know from a movie the club has that most of the Caspar Lumber Company’s milled products were shipped to Pittsburg (a town on the southern shore of the Suisun Bay in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area.) There the Caspar Lumber Company had a controlling interest in a box making factory. Boxes ranged from crates to cigar  boxes and everything in between. There was a great need for crates to ship, among other things, fruit from the Central Valley all over the USA. What we/I do not know is whether one of the “partners” was the Fruit Growers Supply Company.

Knowledge of the Fruit Growers Supply Company has eluded me to date. However this post in Martin Hansen “Steam in the Woods” blog provides an excellent background on the Company:

FGS #5, a big Lima 3-truck Shay

FGS #5, a big Lima 3-truck Shay

When a large group of Southern California fruit growers banded together in 1907 to form a cooperative association to guaranty they would have a steady supply of wood to make box shook for their packaging, they formed the Fruit Growers Supply Company. This organization marketed their products under the Sunkist Brand name, familiar to most of us.

One of their main missions was to accumulate enough timber land to provide a steady and economical supply of box shook. They acquired many large timber holdings until ultimately they became the largest private owner of timber land in California. One of their timber holdings was in Northern California near the Oregon border where they formed the town of Hilt. It was at Hilt that they operated a mill and logging railroad system to supply the wood for the company.

In the late 1930’s famed logging photographer Clark Kinsey traveled to Hilt to photograph the operation for the company. Here we see FGS #5, a big Lima 3-truck Shay as she unloads her log loads at the mill pond in Hilt. This ritual would be repeated day in and day out for many decades until the logging railroad was finally abandoned in the early 1950’s.

The mill finally closed and the company town of Hilt was leveled in the mid 1970’s so that there nearly no sign the mill or town was ever there. Fortunately for us, Shay #5 lived on as she went to a new logging line out of Cochran, Oregon for a number of years before being sold in the 1940’s to Pickering Lumber Corp. where she became their #7. Today she is on display at the Sierra Ry roundhouse in Jamestown, CA.”