Hand tinted postcards of Caspar, Mendocino

Hand tinted postcards began as a conventional black and white photograph and were painted by hand prior to production. In the early days the colouring took place in the photographers studio. As demand expanded factories were established employing large numbers of women to hand tint photographic images prior to postcard printing. The paints were oil based and transparent and their chemistry was such that many of the colourists were to suffer illness as a result of licking their brushes to form a point.

Our website contains a number of hand tinted postcards but none of Caspar until I found these two:

Very early photo of Caspar

Very early photo of Caspar

The log splash at Caspar

The log splash at Caspar

Interesting what?


Caspar Lumber Company Inclines at Whisky Springs on Route 20 between Fort Bragg and Willits

Our website has this to say about the Caspar Lumber Company inclines:

The first two inclines (shown in yellow) on the map above belonging to the Caspar Lumber Company were just up one side of a hill and down the other side of the hill. The logs were pulled to the top of the hill and then lowered down the other side. The picture below shows the Caspar Lumber Company incline in operation.

The Caspar incline at work

What the website page does not say is when and exactly where it was built. That “mystery” was recently solved in the “blast from the past” section from the local rag::

It is reported that the Caspar Lumber Co. is to work up all of its timber in the Little North Fork of Big River into ties. It will be necessary to build a tramway (incline) from the head (end) of the railroad on the South Fork of the Noyo (River) over the divide at Whisky Springs to get the ties out.”

And the date – January 24th, 1917.

And where is Whisky Springs? Here’s a map I bagged from Google:

Another small piece of the jigsaw that is the history of logging along the Mendocino Coast.

Caspar Lumber Company’s Little Red Schoolhouse at Camp 20 on the road from Fort Bragg to Willits

I first visited Caspar Lumber Company’s Little Red Schoolhouse at Camp 20 soon after we moved to Fort Bragg in 2000. The kids were curious as to what an “olde worlde” schoolroom looked like. So we packed lunch and off we tooled.

The schoolhouse is on the south side of the road beyond the Camp 20 meadow toward Willits and is the bright red redwood building.Cross over the footbridge to the east of Camp 20 and look to your right – the old camp schoolhouse stands waiting to be preserved. In its early days it was known as “Woods School”. It first opened in 1915 at Camp 1, moved to Camp 19 and then to its present location. To move the school it was cut into three pieces and mounted on skids. Each third was loaded onto a flat car. Upon arrival it was “stitched back together.

This is the picture that I took in 2001:

2001 photo

As you can see it was not in great condition but still repairable. That, sadly, is no longer true as these photos, taken last summer attest:

What a bloody shame that NO-ONE cares.

1891, 1898 and 1909 Sanborn Maps of Caspar, Mendocino

In the period of these maps the Mill at Caspar was one of the four big mills along the Mendocino Coast (Union Lumber Company in Fort Bragg, the Mill on Big River in Mendocino and the Albion Mill being the other three). Our website page on Caspar tells of the famous log pond and Mill Operations. Heretofore what we didn’t have in the website were detailed maps of Caspar. Sanborn Maps were originally created for assessing fire insurance liability in urbanized areas in the United States. The maps include detailed information about buildings in approximately 12,000 US towns and cities. The Sanborn maps were large-scale lithographed street plans at a scale of 50 feet to one inch (1:600) on 21 by 25 inches (53 by 64 cm) sheets of paper.

My thanks to Club member Joe DuVivier who obtained these maps from the Library of Congress. The files I received were in TIFF format. I have converted them to JPG format and resized them. If you would like copies of the original TIFF files please e-mail me.

Please note that the detail to the left of the heavy black lines “fits” at the top of the right hand section. Double click to enlarge the maps.

Caspar 1891

Caspar 1891

Caspar 1898

Caspar 1898

Caspar 1909

Caspar 1909

Another slice of local history! Thanks Joe.


Caspar Lumber Company – Sawmill Educational Documentary (Video)

The YouTube title of this vid says, “Caspar Lumber Company – circa 1930 Sawmill Educational Documentary – WDTVLIVE42”. I think the first part of the vid was taken in 1904 when Abby Krebs, the then owner of the Caspar Mill, had the roof taken off to let in enough light for the filming. The film was shown at the St. Louis World.s Fair of 1904 to advertise the quality of redwood.

The first part of the video is part of a commercial vid by Catenary Videos, “California’s North Coast Logging Railroads” which we have running as an interpretative aid to our Mendocino Coast Logging layout in Fort Bragg.

Blowing an over sized log into lighter movable pieces using black powder

I “work” our layout (the Mendocino Coast Railroad & Navigation Co.) most Sundays. When on “duty” I tell visitors that I am happy to answer any questions that they might have. The questions, believe me, are many and extremely varied. A recent question was,”What happened to the very largest redwoods? – how did they get to the mill?” The questioner was VERY surprised to learn that they were blown into smaller, more manageable pieces using black powder (gunpowder). I had previously told the questioner that our layout was based on historical info and pictures which can be found in our website. I knew what was coming next- “Is there a picture of a log being blown up on the website?” The answer heretofore was “No”. Hoisted by my own petard.

This exchange engendered a big rummage through “stuff” that has yet to be blogged/added to the website. I was sure that somewhere, quite recently, I had indeed seen a photo of a log being blown up. I finally found it an Arcadia Press book by good friend Katy Tahja entitled “Logging Railroads of Humboldt and Mendocino Counties” on page 91. Hare Creek was part of the Caspar Lumber Company’s timberlands:

Blowing apart a log

New Old pics of the Caspar Mill

When we started to build our layout we had but one hundred pages of historical text and some two hundred and fifty photos of information on the logging operations along the Mendocino Coast to assist us in designing and building our layout. Things have changed dramatically. The website and blog now contain 450 pages of historical text and some 1,500 historical pictures. The additional data helps enormously when answering questions from visitors. It also provides a major assist when building dioramas on the layout. We are always on the hunt for more/better data and pics.

The pics below have come across my “desk” in the last year or so from a variety of sources. They provide a very  useful addition to our website page on the Caspar Lumber Company – the website page has but one picture of the Caspar Mill on it.


Dunlap. a speck on the map between Camp 19 and 20 on Route 20 from Fort Bragg and Willits

In this post, “Map of Fort Bragg and Vicinity circa 1925” I indicated that the place on the map, “Dunlap” was, after 15 years of going between Fort Bragg and Willits, unknown to me. After talking to a couple of knowledgeable visitors to our layout in Fort Bragg (the Mendocino Coast Railroad and Navigation Co.) and some of our club members I was put to rights.

This picture, taken by club member Mike Aplet, shows that Dunlap “is no more than 1/4 mile west of Camp 20. There are markers in both directions.”

Dunlap sign taken by Club member Mike Aplet

Dunlap sign taken by Club member Mike Aplet

Why had I missed it? Beats me but I did – I have seen it every time we have gone “over the hill” to Willits since Mike sent me the pic.

I haven’t yet explored the camp site to see if there are any informative signs therein. The consensus of the cognoscenti is that Dunlap was where the place where the workers at Caspar Lumber Company’s Camp 20 lived. As Mike pointed out it is easily within walking distance to Camp 20.

Anyone have more insights?