This map first appeared tucked away in the back of a Western Railroader. It was recently the subject of some correspondence I had with a gentleman who works for Jackson State Forest. Webmaster Roger Thornburn was in on the correspondence and used his magical computer skills to enhance the original.
As historian for the club I should have been knowledgeable of the great detail on the map. Not only does the map show the location of the Caspar Lumber Company’s twenty logging camps it also shows the location of its three inclines. Not only do we get the Caspar Railroad the CWR’s railraod is shown as is the Mendocino Lumber Compamy’s railroad tracks. If that wasn’t enough you can see Route 20, Highway 1 and the Comptche Ukiah Road. Last, but not least, it shows that the choice of path for all three railroads was along the side of rivers and streams. Have a gander for yourself. You’ll need to click on the map to see all the details I have described.
Caspar, South Fork & Eastern R. R. Map
The name Irmulco comes from Ireland Murray Lumber Company. The company started out in 1902 with a small steam powered sawmill in Two Rock Valley, six miles west of Willits. Lonzo Irvine and Henry Muir ran this mill until 1909 when the supply of readily available timber was exhausted. The operation was moved along the Noyo River where it ran until 1923.
Prior to the line from Fort Bragg going all the way “over the hill” to Willits it ended at Irmulco. To travel the last sixteen miles to Willits passengers had to alight and catch a stage.
The stage waiting for passengers to alight at Irmulco
Better them than me!
I belong to a Facebook page called, “Steam in the Woods.” The page is the “property” of Martin Hansen who appears to have a vast library of old logging photos. Most of his posts, whilst very interesting in their own right, do not have relevance to logging along the Mendocino Coast. Once in a while one comes up which really catches my eye ….. like this one:
Laying Track in Oregon in 1907
First Martin’s comments on the pic:
“This scene captures Oregon Lumber Co. Shay #101 CN#1884 blt. 1907, on a track laying operation. The ties are up front because 2 men can carry ties back to the new grade. The rails are on the flat at the rear ready to be pulled off again by hand. This is a ritual that was repeated, over and over again for construction of logging spurs. The reverse procedure was then repeated many times to pull up the track laid perhaps only 1 or 2 seasons past once the surrounding area was cut. The image is from the SVRR Archives collections.“
This is the only pic I have seen of track laying in the woods. Whilst this photo was taken in Oregon I can’t imagine it was much different along the Mendocino Coast.
Nope, I don’t know where it was although my suspicion is that it was somewhere between Fort Bragg and Northspur. The originals were very poor quality sepia prints. I have converted them to grayscale and enhanced them. If anyone knows owt about where it is I’d appreciate knowing.
Ferns in Fern Flat
Crowley was 32.6 miles from Fort Bragg. It was the site of a logging camp owned by a French man. He had a love of tennis and imported clay to build a tennis court. Until relatively recently the camp at Crowley was intact. It consisted of five bunkhouses, a mess hall and the foreman’s quarters. That’s all we know and heretofore NO pics. Well, this isn’t quite a pic of Crowley but it is a pic taken at Crowley.
Camp Crowley Surveyors Camp
California Western Railroad and Navigation Company
This was the original name of the CWR (California Western Railroad). The “& NAVIGATION COMPANY” was dropped on January 1st, 1948. And, this logo went away forever – well nearly until I found a pic of it!
I have no idea where I got the page that the following text and pics came from. It is the only description of a journey from San Francisco to Willits to Duffy and then to Fort Bragg that I know of.
The picture of the Duffy Mill is new to me. In our website in the section that describes all the places along the Skunk Train Route it says:
“Mile 18.1 (from Fort Bragg)– Alpine or Alpine Junction – When Alpine was a thriving community it was the end of the line. Alpine was 12 miles north of Comptche. Stagecoaches came here from Willits via a ridge route to transport passengers. It had a population of 1,200 was said to have been larger than Fort Bragg. The town included a tavern, a school and a post office. A fire in 1919 destroyed the buildings and the town was never rebuilt.
Near Alpine there was a mill with a railroad called the Duffy Lumber Co. Duffey was located 2.25 miles east of Gracy. It was connected by a branch line to the CWR and had a mill. A post office operated at Duffey from 1904 to 1912.”
And the loco? I think it is the Willits “Express”. This 4-4-0 had 57″ drivers, was built in 1883 and weighed 115,000 pounds.
I’ve chopped the page up to make it easier to read:
Intro to page
Text of Letter
The Willits Express
Duffey Mill in 1910
Loading Lumber ifrom the banks of the Noyo River (Fort Bragg) in 1910
I haven’t seen or read too many experiences of people taking the Skunk train particularly the ride from Willits to Northspur. This one is interesting because it tells of derailment. It appeared in the Mendocino Voice.
Here’s the link = Skunk Train Ride Article