Saturday, November 29, 2008
The camps were established at various locations along the railroad logging line to accommodate the logging and construction crews close to their work. None of the woods crew were quartered at the Caldor Sawmill complex while it operated up until 1923. They stayed out all week in the bachelor camps and came to Caldor only on the weekends.
Life in the logging camps was primitive, but after a long day of hard physical work there was little time or thought given to recreation. The men were kept well fed with a high protein diet of fresh beef sent in from the slaughterhouse at Caldor.
Consumption of various alcoholic beverages was undoubtedly considerable. The main recreation experience, as time allowed, was fishing for trout in the abundantly stocked rivers and streams adjacent to the logging camps.
The first camps that were established apparently were of a more permanent nature that in later years. Horses and mules were being used extensively for skidding operations as the steam donkey had not yet entirely out their use. The care of the animals, therefore, necessitated the building of stables and corrals, and so a more durable camp complex developed.
Rough sawn lumber was furnished from the sawmill, and the cook house, living quarters, smithy, stables, barns and out buildings were constructed, generally contingent to a spring or other adequate water supply.
By 1915 the transition from animals to steam donkeys for log yarding and skidding needs had pretty well taken place, and the logging camps took on a much more temporary and transient nature.
Wood framed buildings were fabricated at the Caldor mill and were made up of rough, board and batten construction. These were about 8’x16’ in size and would accommodate four men. These buildings could be cross hauled by steam donkeys on to log bunk cars and moved from camp to camp as the scene of logging operations shifted.
Friday, November 21, 2008
I have corrected my original blog post.
The No. 2260 was a 4-6-0 Ten Wheel, a class used for both freight and passenger service. The Schenectady Locomotive Works built nine (No. 2257-2265) of the 39 locomotives in SP's T-1 class in 1895. Cooke Locomotive Works built the remainder (No. 2235-2256 and 2266-2273) between 1895 and 1897.
The last remaining SP T-1 Ten Wheel engine is located in Roseville, California. The Cooke-built No. 2252 is on permanent display at Atlantic and Vernon streets in downtown Roseville, a town known for its SP large rail yard.
Reference: Richard K. Wright, Southern Pacific Company Diagrams of Locomotives and Tenders (Pacific Lines), vol. I, Oakhurst, Calif: Wright Enterprises, 1973.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Today, the planing mill is used to store RVs, boats and other vehicles. It's located at the corner of Missouri Flat Road and Industrial Drive. What was once considered Diamond Springs sits on the Zip Code boarder between Placerville and Diamond Springs.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The SP No. 2260, a Schenectady-built T-1 class Ten Wheel 4-6-0, sets on the mainline of the Placerville Branch. The locomotive is heading uphill toward Diamond Springs and Placerville. It appears to be a working freight.
This and other historic photographs published on the blog are from the collection of the El Dorado County Historical Museum. These photographs are available for $10 each from the museum. Call (530) 621-5865 for additional information. Please consult museum staff for limitations to the use of photographs.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
The El Dorado Western Railway offered rides for the second Saturday on old Placerville Branch of the Southern Pacific Lines.
Given in partnership with the El Dorado County Historical Museum, the event gave the El Dorado Western a chance to tell key interested people and organizations of our plans to build a railroad park and demonstration railroad on the site of the old SP railroad depot at El Dorado.
Keith Berry used the museum's track inspection car to give tours between El Dorado and Blanchard roads. The Kalamazoo speeder was donated to the museum by the former Camino, Placerville and Lake Tahoe Railroad sometime in the 1980s.
The rail logging spurs progressed outward along the drainages with grade changes being held as low as possible, but could run up to as high as eight percent for short distances when necessary. The spur road beds were not ballasted as they were considered only temporary in nature and final grading and construction were left to minimal requirements to support the engines and loaded cars.
Rail ties and trestle timbers were provided from the Caldor Mill and most certainly represented a substantial board foot volume of lumber production. After all the accessible timber adjacent to the spur lines were logged out, the rails were removed for reuse on other spurs.
All the logging rails were narrow gauge, three-foot width, to coordinate rolling stock with the rest of the Diamond and Caldor railroad system. Manpower was the predominant factor in placing rails and building trestles and the use of crowbars, sledges, shovels, crosscut saws and jacks were much in evidence.
Few records were kept of the logging rail system and it would probably be easier to trace these spurs through the overgrown country side than to locate or rely on any tangible records. An examination of old maps, cutover charts and actual on-the-ground observation and knowledge, however, gives one a pretty accurate account of the location of the entire system.
Logging camp locations and their approximate dates of use were also gleaned from these few remaining charts and maps. Firsthand knowledge, interviews and observation of physical evidence of known campsites were also relied of for some camp locations.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
A crewman and visitors discuss engine mechanics during a break from rides. The two-cylinder engine was only hitting on one cylinder most of the time.
The engine ran smoothly despite mechanical problems. Keith and Mark said that they would perform a compression check in the next two weeks to find out what's going on.
It was hitting on "one and a half" cylinders once the engine warmed up, said Mark.
The Camino, Placerville and Lake Tahoe Railroad donated the speeder car to the county museum sometime after it ceased operations in 1986. The standard gauge CPLT No. 4 was built by Kalamazoo.
The El Dorado Western Railway, in partnership with the El Dorado County Historical Museum, hosted rides museum's track inspection car on the former Southern Pacific Placerville Branch in El Dorado, between El Dorado and Blanchard roads.
The ride gave us a chance to tell key people and organizations of our plans to build a railroad park and demonstration railroad on the site of the old SP railroad depot at El Dorado.
EDWRF president Keith Berry drives the Camino, Placerville and Lake Tahoe Railroad speeder back to the depot site. Each ride took the car 1/2-mile west toward El Dorado Road. Keith then "turned the car around" and headed to Blanchard Road, about 1-1/2 miles to the northwest. Each 3-mile ride took about 20 minutes.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
The geared locomotive was originally designed and patented by an enterprising Michigan lumberman named Ephriam Shay in 1881. Shay recognized the need for a small, powerful locomotive that could be used to transport logs over steep grades, poor road beds and tight radius curves to the sawmills.
The existing rod driven locomotives were limited to gentle grades and required well ballasted road beds to withstand the pounding shock of the drive wheels, and thus were limited to well maintained, permanent mainline hauls.
The Lima Locomotive Works began manufacturing the first crude, two-truck Shay geared engines on the Shay patent and by 1888 had sold 200 to the lumber industry. At this time the Climax Manufacturing Company of Corry, Pennsylvania, brought out their Climax geared locomotive and in 1894 Charles Heisler in Erie, Pennsylvania, produced the Heisler geared locomotive.
Shay’s head start, its rugged performance and improved models, however, put it well a head of its competition. The Lima Locomotive Works produced 2,761 geared Shay locomotives until it ended their production in 1945, and the argument over which was the best geared locomotive had been won decisively by the Shay.
The Diamond and Caldor Railroad utilized 9 Shay locomotives and the one Baldwin 2-4-2T Saddle Tank Rod Locomotive at various times during their 50 years of railroad operations.
The transition to railroad logging progressed rapidly after 1904 with construction of logging spurs extending from Caldor northwest into the Steely Forks and south and east into the Middle Fork of the Consumnes River drainages.
Road alignments were laid out and construction crews brought the road beds to grade with horse drawn “Fresno” scrapers. Black powder was utilized for blasting loose stumps and rock formations. Because fill material volume was difficult to obtain, extensive use of trestles were used to cross even minor drainages.