Wednesday, September 16, 2009

History of the California Door Company and its logging railroads #10

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.

Later on, bunk railroad cars for living quarters and commissary were built up in the D&C shops at Diamond Springs and these gradually replaced the portable frame camp buildings for the logging and construction crews. These provided more comfortable living quarters and were easily moved to new logging locations, and spotted on to an adjacent siding.

It is therefore reasonable to presume that any substantial amount of physical evidence still identifiable as a logging camp existing along the old railroad line was established between 1904 and 1915, during the first ten years or so of the railroad operation. Examination of the surviving area maps of the time verify some of these camp locations.

Some of these early camps became switching or division points on the logging railroad system and were used for many years, while others were abandoned when logging was completed in their area. Some of these abandoned camps were probably utilized later on by ranchers and others in the area.

The early logging crews were probably quartered at Caldor mill facility previous to 1904, as logging operations were limited to adjacent timber stands. The early skid roads were confined to McKinney Creek and Dogtown Creek drainages and then extended north and eastward along Plummer Ridge.

With the beginning of railroad logging in 1904, camps to accommodate the crews were established as the railroad logging system developed and moved farther away from the mill.

There is no record or recollections concerning the numbering of the railroad logging camps. Such a procedure was generally used on a typical railroad logging show of the time.

Discussions with "old timers" acquainted with the early operations indicate the camps were identified by names only. A hypothetical numbering system has been devised to facilitate identification and locations of known camps in conjunction with applicable names.

There were undoubtedly several other logging camps established in conjunction with the railroad logging activities. Many of these were most likely temporary and transient in nature and were served by bunk cars or portable houses. Most probably there was a camp and division point at Pi Pi and at Five Corners, as these were key points on the railroad system.

Movable logging camps were undoubtedly used in the Bear Meadow Loop area during extensive logging here in the 1930's. Subsequent relogging activities, road building and camp activities have pretty well obliterated what few remnants may have survived from these temporary camps.

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