An enquiry about Fruto

I recently received this enquiry from a gentleman named Bob Maloney:

” I am seeking information and photographs for the line that in the late 1800s, intended to go to Mendocino County, ran from Willows to Fruto where there was a turntable for return. Logs, livestock, ore, ag products, general freight and passengers were transported. There is some history under “Fruto, CA, USA” on the internet. The line from Fruto to Mendocino County which never materialized (I think due to lack of funding). The tracks came up in about 1950.

I live in Fruto and am working (Module 1) on an N Scale duplication of Fruto 1888-1920 (plus or minus) but to scale as near as I can determine that. I need information on the location, size and facilities for loading cattle (corrals, scale, water tower, etc.), the location of the ore loading ramp (shown on the Fruto internet site), and the means by which logs were loaded onto rail cars. Any details about the roundtable and engine house west of it is unknown to me too. …………Willows actually had and has a “Y” but my Willows Loop will not be to scale and will only be a multiple track operation to reverse trains, sort cars, park and run trains, and just run them around in anticipation of returning to Fruto for the scale operation – i.e., someplace to go from Fruto.

So far my biggest lack of information in Fruto is how the logs were loaded as I have had stacks of logs described to me as seen by youngsters (at that time, older folks now) adjacent to the long north siding south of Cherry Street on the west end of that siding, but with no knowledge of how they were loaded. The corrals have been described to me as at the east end of that same siding. One inconsistency is the pile of logs that was seen north of the 3 east-west tracks (main plus siding on north and south sides) but I’m told when “a log pile caught fire it burned down the station” though the station was on the south side of the 3 east-west tracks. Maybe the fire went across all 3 tracks or maybe there were logs stacked elsewhere than as has been described to me on the north side. More history being sought.”

Until I received this e-mail I had never heard of Fruto. As is my wont I searched for a map of its location and I found a beauty [Click to see the detail]:

Fruto Topo Map

Fruto Topo Map

Next thing was to talk to our VP Lonnie Dickson who worked for SP (Southern Pacific) and late UP (Union Pacific) for many years and ask if he knew of Fruto. He more than knew it – he had been an engineer on the route depicted in the above map.  Whilst Lonnie remembered many details of the route he had no answers for Bob about log loading. After discussion we agreed that the process was probably not dissimilar to that used here on the Mendocino Coast. So here’s my effort at answering Bob’s question:

Before there came to be hayrick booms (cranes) powered by steam donkeys to lift logs onto the railroad flat cars the logs were rolled onto the flat cars. The photo below shows how:

Loading-logs-before-there-were-Spar-Trees-600x413

Loading-logs-before-there-were-Spar-Trees 

Using Hayrick Booms was the next innovation in the woods:

Hayrick boom in operation

Hayrick boom in operation

Hayrick boom in operation #2

Hayrick boom in operation #2

Hope the above helps Bob.

 

Logging Treucks from Way Back When

We live five odd miles to the north of Fort Bragg on Route 1. Route 1 is an old road and was NOT designed for the traffic that now uses it. If, like me, you need to take Route 1 to get into town (Fort Bragg) it’s dollars to donuts that your going to have an 18 wheeler up your rear end urging you to go faster and/or being buffeted by logging trucks going past one in the opposite direction. The logging trucks rip out the studs in the middle of the road and make copious holes which get repaired in a way that they reappear within days of being fixed. The only good news is that after vigorous protests from folks like me the speed limit on the stretch of Route 1 that I travel has been limited to 45 mph. So much for my bleat.

This blog is substantially about the logging that took place along the Mendocino Coast from its beginning. Logging trucks supplanted the railroads that existed connecting the mills to the places where the trees were harvested. “Hot logging” was much cheaper and more flexible than using railroads. So, as soon as trucks were made that were capable of working in the woods they were utilised as these photos attest. Alas, these photos are not from the Mendocino Coast but are, I believe, atypical of what were used here of which photos are yet to come across my radar.

[Click on any photo to see a gallery of the pics.]

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.” 

Loading a Steam Donkey onto a rail flat car

I am sure that this was done on the railroads along the Mendocino Coast. Alas, I have yet to come across a picture of the loading taking place.

Marc Reusser’s “Steam in the Woods” Facebook page had a photo which showed me how it was done:

Loading a Steam Donkey onto a railroad flat car

Loading a Steam Donkey onto a railroad flat car

Marc was kind enough to add explanatory text to the photo:

Standard Lumber Company, loading a donkey onto one of their logging flats.Note that the donkey engine is under steam and has been rigged and blocked, in such a manner, so as to be able to pull itself onto the car.  Visible beyond the donkey, is a skidway, and above to the left, a horse. Horses were often used for line outhaul, carrying water, yarding logs, and various other tasks.”

Thinks, “Can we model this?”

 

 

Moving a Loggers Camp in the Woods

One of the dioramas on our G Scale layout in Fort Bragg, The Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Navigation Co,, is that of a loggers ‘ camp. The diorama was created using a photo of a loggers’ camp that existed at Philo. Philo is located in the Anderson Valley in western Mendocino County. Our website has an informative page on loggers’ camps. So, whilst we have a number of pictures of loggers ‘ camps and loggers’ camps on trains on the move to the next location what we do not have, heretofore, is a picture or a description of a logging camp actually being moved.

A recent post on Martin Hansens Facebook page, “Steam in the Woods” has set our “lack” to rights. Here’s the pic in his post:

Moving a Loggers Camp

Moving a Loggers Camp

Of perhaps even more help is Martin’s text which is reproduced below:

While most steam locomotives toiled on a daily basis to move passengers or freight trains for their owner, some were called on occasionally for an even more personal and important task.

In the logging industry of the Pacific Northwest many of the larger operation used extensive systems of logging railroads to bring the timber harvest to the waiting mills. As the cutting areas moved farther and farther from the mill sites the logging company had to build logging camps for their workers near the cutting ares. This required the use of portable camp cars and camp houses for the loggers and their families.

In the 1930’s the Shevlin-Hixon Company of Bend, Oregon consolidated it’s several logging camps into one that became the traveling town of Shevlin. The town had over 700 occupants and boasted a post office, church car, tavern car and full commissary.

Every couple of years the Town of Shevlin had to be relocated. That is where the company railroad came in. Here we see Shevlin-Hixon Baldwin 2-8-2 #2 waiting for one of the towns camp houses to be loaded on a log car for movement to the next site. The date is June 1947 and the Town of Shevlin is moving from it’s location on Fremont Summit to it’s new home near Chemult, Oregon. The cabins porch awning has been folded down and the porch itself folded up to facilitate the periodic move this building would make over it’s lifetime.

In just 2 days the entire came was moved by rail to it’s new home in the woods. All the furnishings and possessions of the loggers and their family were entrusted to the railroad crews to make this most important move. Those crews took pride in making each move without breaking so much as a piece of china.”

Thanks Martin.

Neato frito right?