Saturday, November 15, 2008

History of the California Door Company and its logging railroads #8

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.

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.

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