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?

Map of Fort Bragg and Vicinity circa 1925

I love old maps. I had a great time poring over this one. Dating it needed a bit of sleuthing and it had other, new to me info, on the railroads along the Mendocino Coast.

The Ten Mile Branch of the California Western Railway/Union Lumber Company wasn’t opened until 1917 – see here. So, when you look at the old map below first look at the Ten Mile Branch running north out of Fort Bragg. (Click on it and you’ll see it full size).

Map of Fort Bragg and vicinity railways circa 1925

Map of Fort Bragg and vicinity railways circa 1925

Notice that when the railway gets to Ten Mile River it turns inland. One branch goes to Clark Fork Landing and the other goes to Camp 6. Ultimately there were 42 camps along the Ten Mile River and its tributaries. If the Ten Mile Branch didn’t get to Camp 1 till 1917 I am guessing that was not till around 1925 that it reached Camp 6.

The next thing that caught my eye was the route taken by the Glen Blair railroad. The switch to the Glen Blair Branch still exists just before Tunnel #1 three miles or so from the CWR’s Fort Bragg depot. I did not know that you could access Glen Blair from Highway 1 – I assume that the road shown on the map is Little Valley Road.

Next item of interest is along the Caspar Railroad. Follow the railroad all the way to the end and you’ll see the place name “Dunlap” – which was new to me. Given its proximity to Camp 19 – see notation just to the left of Dunlap – I am guessing it may be what I refer to as Camp 20.

Great fun this stuff. Now look below Willits. Can you see “Baechtel” which I am pretty sure was a logging outfit out of Ukiah, But, but, what was the “Cable Log Ry” at the end of the Baechtel road? I have neither heard of it or seen pictures. If anyone has any info please pass it on to me. I am intrigued.

Last, but not least. North out of Willits are two railroad lines – one extant – the NWP (Northwestern Pacific) and the other, abandoned, went to Sherwood. In our page about the owner of the NWP you can read that the town now known as Brooktrails was formerly Northwestern and the site of the Diamond D mill. The map shows the abandoned line turning west out of Sherwood heading close to where the CWR/Union Lumber Company’s last Camp was located. I had no idea how far the Sherwood line extended west.

Now, don’t forget I am an accountant and came to live here in Fort Bragg in 2000. I am not an “old-time logger” and am very happy to be corrected.

Where did I get the map from. I don’t know – it was loose inside an old book on logging railroads I bought from Amazon. I suspect that it was part of a Western Railroader. If anyone recognizes the map and knows of the source, again I’d be delighted to know.


Forneys – Locos with a 2-4-4 wheel arrangement – Daisy, a Forney that worked for the Caspar Lumber Company

Club President Chuck Whitlock and I had a conversation in which he stated that that it was sad that we did not have a Forney locomotive in the club’s roster because there were Forneys in use along the Mendocino Coast. Discretion being the better part of valour I never told him that I had no recollection of their being any Forneys along the coast. I convinced myself I was right by checking our website page on locomotives and found no 2-4-4 type or mention of Forneys.

Well, the Mendocino Coast Model Railroad and Navigation Co, did get a Forney and you can see pics of her below with her MCMR & N logo.

MCMR & N #3 awaiting the word to go

MCMR & N #3 awaiting the word to go

#3 in a siding

#3 in a siding

#3 Front view

#3 Front view

After I had taken these photos I went over to the Deli Restaurent for a coffee. The Deli is kitty corner across from the Skunk Train Depot and is a quasi museum housing railroad artifacts and two costmetically restored locos, Daisy and Dinky. Every Wednesday morning around 8ish a gang of club members gather for brekkers.The ladies who are patient enough to wait on us line the tables up alongside Daisy:

Daisy in the Deli Restaurent

Daisy in the Deli Restaurent

When I walked into the Deli it hit me like a ton of bricks …… Daisy is a Forney!!!!!!

Sign on the side of Daisy

Sign on the side of Daisy

I was pleased I kept my big mouth shut about there being NO Forneys working along the Mendocino Coast!!!

Mathias N. Forney patented the “Forney” type locomotive when he was working for the Illinois Central Railroad in 1861. The Forney is easily recognized by its integration of locomotive and fuel bunker on one frame and its trailing truck positioned under the coal bunker/water tank. This design allows for smooth operation where there are tight curves which makes them ideal for logging operations. Forneys were produced by many locomotive manufacturers to serve urban elevated railroads and narrow gauge short lines during the middle to late steam era.

I started poring through my collection of photos looking for Forneys that lived along the Mendocino Coast and turned up this one:

Albion Lumber Company Forney

Albion Lumber Company Forney

Caspar, South Fork and Eastern Railroad Share Certificate

In my days as an auditor (long, long ago) I did occasionally handle a share certificate. There are collectors of share certificates of old established and defunct railroads. The picture you see of this one is one of a kind – an un-issued share certificate of the Caspar, South Fork and Eastern Railroad and now resides in Roots of Motive Power Library in Willits.

Share Certificate

Share Certificate

When first built the railroad that was run by the Caspar Lumber Company was loosely called the Caspar Railroad or the Jughandle Railroad by the locals. In 1884 the railroad was extended north to Hare Creek from Jughandle Creek in search of new stands of timber and was formally incorporated as the Caspar and Hare Creek Railroad and was owned by Caspar Lumber Company.

In 1903 the rail operations were separated from the Mill operations and separately incorporated as the Caspar, South Fork and Eastern Railroad with $500,000 of capital. Only 80 stock certificates were ever issued and the stock was always closely held and never available to the public.

This un-issued certificate – a really rare item – was donated to Roots of Motive Power by Mr Coombs who was given it by Emery Escola.

2-6-6-2 Locos, Models and those of Caspar Lumber Company, Trojan and Samson

Last Saturday we had a couple of visitors at the layout. After commending the Club on depicting the logging operations along the Mendocino Coast I was asked if our substantial collection of locos were representative of those that actually worked along the Mendocino Coast. Regretfully the answer was “no” with a few exceptions.

In piston engine locos there are few G Scale models that are prototypical of the real thing. In geared locos, Heisler, Climax and Shay there is a good supply of G Scale models. The most numerous type of loco along the Mendocino Coast was the 2-6-2T (T stands for tank engine) and I have yet to find a commercial model of this type that looks like those that belonged to the CWR – The California Western Railroad being the railroad arm of Union Lumber Company which had by far the most locomotives of any of the mills.

All is not totally lost. Club member Basil Casabona has one loco which is close to the real thing – his 2-6-6-2. Two 2-6-6-2‘s were owned by the Caspar Lumber Company. They were named Trojan and Samson. SuperSkunk, CWR # 46 was also a 2-6-6-2 but she appeared after the ULC logging operations had ceased. Here’s Samson and then Trojan followed by a some pictures of Basil’s 2-6-6-2. See if you think I am right.

Caspar Lumber Company's Samson

Caspar Lumber Company’s Samson

Caspar Lumber Company's Trojan

Caspar Lumber Company’s Trojan

Basil Casabona's 2-6-6-2 en route to the Enginehouse

Basil Casabona’s 2-6-6-2 en route to the Engine house

Basil's 2-6-6-2 passing Main Street, Fort Bragg

Basil’s 2-6-6-2 passing Main Street, Fort Bragg

Basil's 2-6-6-2 paused in the mill yard

Basil’s 2-6-6-2 paused in the mill yard

2-6-6-2 and small consist passing in front of the mill

2-6-6-2 and small consist passing in front of the mill