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.”

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