Before Bandsaws there were Circular Saws

The ability of the Union Lumber Company mill here in Fort Bragg  to cut very large logs was due to the introduction of a Band-saw in place of a circular saw. The circular saws were very  wasteful because of their thickness. You can see a circular saw in operation at Sturgeon’s Mill at Green Hill road in Sebastopol, CA.

The sign for Sturgeon's Mill is painted on an old sawblade used in the mill's operations

The sign for Sturgeon’s Mill is painted on an old sawblade used in the mill’s operations

Some of the blades were very large to handle the huge tree trunks:

Sawblade that is taller than a man

Sawblades that are taller than a man

The circular sawbades’ replacement was a band saw blade. This pic shows one similar to those used in the Union Lumber Company.

Giant Bandsaw being manhandled

Giant Bandsaw being manhandled

Now suppose you were building an Egyptian monument (pyramid?) 5,000 years ago. Is this how they cut those blocks of granite? A giant circular saw with a copper blade

Eygyptian Circular Saw with a Copper blade to cut granite blocks

Egyptian Circular Saw with a Copper blade to cut granite blocks

The Finns in Fort Bragg and Finnish Folk Songs and Poetry

Soon after I came to Fort Bragg in 2000 I became fast friends with Hank Simonson.

Hank was born in 1917. Hank’s father had emigrated from Finland and come to Fort Bragg to join Hank’s uncle falling trees.  His father and uncle emigrated to escape from the Russian pogrom. Hake, Hank’s real name in Finnish, was born nine months after his mother arrived. Hank’s family, like many immigrant families, spoke their native language at home and he did not hear and learn English until he went to school. Hank’s father played the violin and his brother was accomplished on several instruments. The Finns were a large community in Fort Bragg and had their own Sulo band – here’s a picture of the band:

Fort Bragg Sulo Band

Fort Bragg Sulo Band

The Band had ceased to exist many years before I knew Hank. My one and only experience of Finnish Poetry and Folk Songs came when Hank and his beloved wife Flo and I attended what may well have been the last evening of Finnish Folk Song and Poetry ever held in Fort Bragg. Per Wiki, “The folk music of Finland is typically influenced by Karelian traditional tunes and lyrics of the Kalevala metre. Karelian heritage has traditionally been perceived as the purest expression of Finnic myths and beliefs, thought to be spared from Germanic and Slavic influences. ”  I was very polite and said I liked it but in all truth I didn’t understand a word of it!

Now you know how I got “into” Finnish Folk Music and Poetry.

Whilst most of our train Club members think I am a right pillock I do have an appreciation of classical music. Recently I have been listening to a VERY talented Finnish violinist named Pekka Kuusisto.  Whilst looking up his music up on YouTube I found  this vid which is both hilarious and enables you to learn Finnish.

Coloured Postcards of Caspar circa 1900

There are a LOT of photos in the main website and my three blogs. I get them from everywhere. In the fairly recent past there has been a whole bunch of coloured postcards.

“During the 19th century colorants was often added to printed images by hand for it was the most cost efficient way to produce a color image. This tradition was naturally applied to all types of postcards, and it became common practice around 1902. The general tendency of collotypes to print lightly while still capturing great detail made them the perfect receptor of hand coloring and they formed the base for most of this work. With more paper surface left exposed and a less oily ink to fight the water based colorant it could more easily show off subtle hues or attain brilliant saturation. Some publishers would even adjust the transparencies used to create collotype plates so that their cards to be colored would print lighter than the versions to be printed solely in black & white. Most postcards were colored with a simple RGB pallet but there are many variations to this. As labor costs rose the hand coloring of postcards faded out after the 1930’s.” 

So now you know when and how. Here’s the three coloured postcards I recently acquired of Caspar.

Loading at Caspar

Loading at Caspar

Caspar Harbour

Caspar Harbour

Caspar Main Street

Caspar Main Street

Map of the Caspar, South Fork& Eastern Railroad

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

Caspar, South Fork & Eastern R. R. Map

Branscomb, California

Where is Branscome?

Map showing whereabouts of Branscomb California

Map showing whereabouts of Branscomb California

It’s not a good map but I think you can see that it’s close to Westport and Laytonville. According to Wiki, “Branscom b is an unincorporated community in Mendocino County. It’s located 8 miles west-southwest of Laytonville.”

I knew there was once a mill but that’s about it. Wiki though has a nice piece of history:

Benjamin Franklin Branscomb joined an ox-team wagon train that was headed for California in 1857. He was born in Jackson, Ohio, in 1832, the son of Joseph Edmond Branscomb. The family moved to DeKalb County, Missouri, where Joseph became Sheriff. According to family tradition, Joseph, a staunch abolitionist, was shot and killed 3 days before President Lincoln was assassinated, but a contemporary newspaper account says Joseph was shot to death by a Mr. Jacob J. Stoffel in Maysville in July 1865, several months after Lincoln’s assassination.

Benjamin later settled in Sonoma County and farmed there for about twenty years. He married one of the daughters of the captain of the wagon train, Mary Jane Taylor, and they had 10 children: 6 boys and 4 girls. They moved to Jackson Valley, Mendocino, in 1880, where he homesteaded 160 acres of land and 40 acres more under the Timber Act. He was instrumental in starting the first school in that area. He built a large home which, after his family grew up, he turned into a hotel. A small grocery store, meat market and livery stable were added later. After more people came into the area, he established a post office, which first opened in 1894. Since the place had no official name, it was named after him, the postmaster. After his death in 1921, one of his sons, John, inherited the property and ran it until 1959, when he sold it to the Harwood family, who built the timber mill in Branscomb called Harwood Products. Unfortunately in the year 2007 the mill filed bankruptcy, eventually closing its doors for good in 2008. The Branscomb store along with the post office, officially closed few years after in 2016.”

I have never seen a photo of the mill. I have just one photo which I suspect was taken way before the mill came.

Branscomb, CA

Branscomb, CA

Just a leeetel bit more of our local history.

 

 

 

 

Remnants of logging activities from over a hundred and ten years ago can be seen in the Gualala River.

Gualala. If you pronounce the “G” they know you are a visitor. Gualala it seems was not always Gualala but also Walahlee, Walalla and Walhalla.  Gualala is the last “stop” at the southern end of the Mendocino Coast Redwood Empire. Gualala is a Pomo name meaning “where the waters flow down.” There was a mill there which was owned by Haywood R. Harmon in Gualala which was located at the mouth of Mill Gulch, now known as China Gulch.

Is there anything left of the mill I ask?

This article. which I found on a site called Mendocino Sightings, provides an answer the my question:

Bill Oxford used his drone to photograph the estuary of the Gualala River. This is what he found – several wooden structures in the riverbed.

Old mill crib logs in the-Gualala River by Bill Oxford

Old mill crib logs in the-Gualala River by Bill Oxford

Bill wondered if these structures were part of the old mill at the site we call Mill Bend. Here is a photo of the old mill.

Gualala Mill from park-courtesy of Harry-Lindstrom

Gualala Mill from park-courtesy of Harry-Lindstrom

Harry Lindstrom knew what they were. He wrote, “These are remnants of old log cribs. If you are kayaking, you might mistake these old remnants for trees, or you may not even pay attention to them if the water is deep enough. Most of them are stuck in the mud, pointing out at an angle. The lumber mill at Mill Bend was not pushed into the river; it burned in 1906.” Harry sent along these photos showing the remnants: 

Close up of old log cribsin the Gualala River -by-Harry-Lindstrom

Close up of old log cribsin the Gualala River -by-Harry-Lindstrom

Old log cribs in the estuary of the Gualala River by Harry-Lindstrom

Old log cribs in the estuary of the Gualala River by Harry-Lindstrom

Wayne Harris, owner of Adventures Rents, the kayaking company on the Gualala River, also knew what they were. He wrote, “Bill’s photo shows some of the cribs that were built to contain the floating logs. There are four or five areas in the estuary where one can still see them. They were logs pinned together with stakes to create a dock-like structure to hold back the floating timber.”

So there you go – a little bit of history still evident in the Gualala River.

Thanks to Bill and Harry for allowing me to share their photos with you here.”