An enquiry about Fruto

I recently received this enquiry from a gentleman named Bob Maloney:

” I am seeking information and photographs for the line that in the late 1800s, intended to go to Mendocino County, ran from Willows to Fruto where there was a turntable for return. Logs, livestock, ore, ag products, general freight and passengers were transported. There is some history under “Fruto, CA, USA” on the internet. The line from Fruto to Mendocino County which never materialized (I think due to lack of funding). The tracks came up in about 1950.

I live in Fruto and am working (Module 1) on an N Scale duplication of Fruto 1888-1920 (plus or minus) but to scale as near as I can determine that. I need information on the location, size and facilities for loading cattle (corrals, scale, water tower, etc.), the location of the ore loading ramp (shown on the Fruto internet site), and the means by which logs were loaded onto rail cars. Any details about the roundtable and engine house west of it is unknown to me too. …………Willows actually had and has a “Y” but my Willows Loop will not be to scale and will only be a multiple track operation to reverse trains, sort cars, park and run trains, and just run them around in anticipation of returning to Fruto for the scale operation – i.e., someplace to go from Fruto.

So far my biggest lack of information in Fruto is how the logs were loaded as I have had stacks of logs described to me as seen by youngsters (at that time, older folks now) adjacent to the long north siding south of Cherry Street on the west end of that siding, but with no knowledge of how they were loaded. The corrals have been described to me as at the east end of that same siding. One inconsistency is the pile of logs that was seen north of the 3 east-west tracks (main plus siding on north and south sides) but I’m told when “a log pile caught fire it burned down the station” though the station was on the south side of the 3 east-west tracks. Maybe the fire went across all 3 tracks or maybe there were logs stacked elsewhere than as has been described to me on the north side. More history being sought.”

Until I received this e-mail I had never heard of Fruto. As is my wont I searched for a map of its location and I found a beauty [Click to see the detail]:

Fruto Topo Map

Fruto Topo Map

Next thing was to talk to our VP Lonnie Dickson who worked for SP (Southern Pacific) and late UP (Union Pacific) for many years and ask if he knew of Fruto. He more than knew it – he had been an engineer on the route depicted in the above map.  Whilst Lonnie remembered many details of the route he had no answers for Bob about log loading. After discussion we agreed that the process was probably not dissimilar to that used here on the Mendocino Coast. So here’s my effort at answering Bob’s question:

Before there came to be hayrick booms (cranes) powered by steam donkeys to lift logs onto the railroad flat cars the logs were rolled onto the flat cars. The photo below shows how:

Loading-logs-before-there-were-Spar-Trees-600x413

Loading-logs-before-there-were-Spar-Trees 

Using Hayrick Booms was the next innovation in the woods:

Hayrick boom in operation

Hayrick boom in operation

Hayrick boom in operation #2

Hayrick boom in operation #2

Hope the above helps Bob.