Monday, October 12, 2009

History of the California Door Company and its logging railroads #12

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 old mill site at Caldor now became a division point and logging camp as the extensive housing and track layouts were utilized. Daily operations on the Diamond and Caldor started with a 20-car log train departing from Caldor before daybreak.

Moving past Leoni Station it made its way down to the halfway point at Rodwell (Coles Station) where there was a turning wye, sidings for 40 cars, oil and water facilities. Here the training was broken into two sections and the engines that had brought up the empties from Diamond Springs hooked up the loaded log cars and returned.

The Caldor engines then picked up 20 empty cars spotted at the Rodwell siding and returned to the logging areas. Mean while another train crew was busy making up another string of loaded cars for the next days run from Caldor.

The average daily train delivered about 150,000 board-feet of logs to the mill. The round trip from Diamond Springs to Caldor took about 16 hours including the activities at Rodwell.

Editor’s note: Rodwell and Coles Station are not located at the same point. Rodwell was situated in the North Fork Consumnes River canyon at the 15-mile post. Coles was located on the ridge to the south at the 21-mile post.

Conversion from wood to oil was accomplished in 1910. The engines used for switching and logging continued to burn wood until the early 1920’s, as did the donkey engines in the woods. As the donkeys were continually on the move from one cutting and loading area to another, facilities for oil storage were not practical in the early years.

The renewal of logging activities in 1935 saw many changes taking place in the logging industry. The diesel, internal combustion engine powering crawler type tractors began to replace the steam donkeys for skidding logs to the landings and diesel powered jammers and cranes took the job of loading the log cars.

The biggest transformation, however, was in the form of the diesel logging truck for transporting logs and would soon spell an end to the logging railroad era. Old railroad grades were converted to a truck haul transportation system and the numerous trestles were bypassed and abandoned as the ravines were filled in.

1945 marked the end of most railroad logging for the California Door Company, and some of the wood locomotives began to be broken up for scrap. The more mobile diesel log trucks now supplied practically all the logs to the transfer point at Camp Webster and Caldor where they were reloaded on to the log cars for the 33 mile rail haul to Diamond Springs.

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