Sunday, August 24, 2008

History of the California Door Company and its logging railroads #5

This history was prepared by Robert Niles for the Eldorado National Forest in 1979. The El Dorado Western Railway blog will reprint serialized portions of Mr. Nile’s report in the coming months.

After the California Door company acquired the small mill and timber holdings in 1900 the company brought in mules and horses and the new Dolbeer steam donkeys to move the logs to the mill pond.

Michigan lumbermen had already devised the high wheels or "Michigan log buggy" (one is exhibited at the El Dorado County Historical Museum) that was the forerunner of the logging arch. This devise raised the front end of the log clear of the ground to decrease the skidding friction. The "Michigan log buggies" were also used at Caldor during logging operations before railroad logging came into existence.

Pole roads had also been devised in the Michigan woods in an early effort to get the logs off the ground. These were crude pole "railroads" on which double flanged or concave wheeled cars, loaded with logs, were pulled by horses, oxen, steam tractors or donkey engines.

Pole roads were used in some isolated locations in the west, but the size and weight of the large pine logs in the Sierra Nevada and the lack of a braking system to control the cars speed, probably precluded their use here. There is no evidence that a system of pole roads were utilized at any time during logging operations in the Caldor area.

Flumes and log chutes were also utilized for log and lumber transportation, but were of a very limited and specialized nature in the Sierra Nevada. A log chute was used by the American River Land and Lumber Company at Slab Creek on the American River in 1891.

The Madera Sugar Pine Lumber Company utilized an elaborate flume system to transport their sawn lumber from the mill south of Yosemite to their mill at Madera. Log chutes may have been used on a limited basis during the early logging days around Caldor, but no records or physical evidence of chutes or flumes is known to exist.

I'll post the next installment in two weeks ...

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