Newspaper Archive of
Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
September 5, 2018     Feather River Bulletin
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September 5, 2018

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lOB Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018 Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter SWAYNE, from page 1B It was when the new company discovered that an operation in Delleker had the same name that the Swaynes changed their name from the Feather River Lumber Company to the Swayne Lumber Company. "The Swayne mill site was located just north of Camp Enjoyment, a Feather River Canyon resort of the era, al proximately 25 miles northeast of Oroville," according to Braun. The Swayne operation "Swayne Lumber Company started timber production in Butte and Plumas counties in 1909," according to Feather River Ranger District archaeologist Jamie Moore. "They had a narrow-gauge railroad that would bring logs to a mill located in French Creek." Timber was milled at French Creek and then sent by tram to the Western Pacific Railroad located on the North Fork of the Feather River: This mill burned down, a common problem with early sawmills. For a few, that was the end of the venture, but many others rebuilt quickly. When the Swayne mill burned, they moved the site to Oroville, Moore said. And narrow gauge trains were used to bring logs to the mill. "This created the need to create workers' camps in the woods," he said. Camps came into being for Swayne Lumber Company in 1917 and came to an end in 1938, Moore sa id. With tl coming of Swayne's railroad i its mill, Camp Enjoyme] ]t with its tennis courts, la rge hotel and lots for sale didn' t last long. A large mill, its timber' and lumberyards and the accor ipanying noise and smell dich z't spell relaxation to many wh( ) might have otherwise enjoyed a conveniently located family )rt. By July 1910, the site featured a 45-by-12q )-foot sawmill, a planing m dll, box factory, drying kilns, bun ukhouses for the workers a nd a cookhouse. It even had ) housing for married s. "Power was furnished by two large Dutch Oven boil, ers set on concrete pads and ( inclosed by brickworl I," Braun wrote. Sawdust v vas burned to provide power. "A t full production, the mill and it s logging operations employed 150 men." Three n: iles of 36-inch gauge railroad c( )nnected the mill to its sources. "I most unique feature oft he Swayne Hill operation vas how fmished lumber rea ched the market." The Swa . one mill ran throughout the year with the exception o: f the winter months when it clos led down. Most of the workers liw in nearby Tilden. The name ol that community was change( i in 1914 to Swayne with Warrez z Swayne as postmaster. The community came to an e nd in 1917. It was in 1 916 that the company be( "ame troubled. A forest fire on Big Bar Mountain GET 7ADY TO Delicious Party Platters & Freshly Baked Items from our Bakery for every occasion! 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Although not everything was destroyed the loss was still put at $300,000. "The big fire of October 1916 marked the end of decentralized lumber milling in the Oroville area woods," Braun wrote. The operation that would replace the first mill would be on a larger scale. A new direction It was the mill fire that forced the Swaynes to consider their options: close and sell, rebuild and continue as they had, or the vastly different approach to purchase the Truckee Lumber Company mill in Oroville and its Butte and Plumas railways. These properties were available to them and hadn't been in use since they closed in 1911. This purchase was far outside what the Swaynes' could afford or raise. That meant hard negotiations with Southern Pacific who really owned much of the property. And nything that was decided by SP would mean that Truckee lumber and West Side Lumber Company would have to accept, Braun said. Swayne was the only serious buyer to come along and apparently SP wanted to get out from under the situation. "The Swaynes got the railroad for a $250,000 note, which meant the SP wrote off $150,000 on the Butte and Plumas. The cost of the Truckee mill is unknown. West Side Lumber reduced the $1 million note to $750,000, " payable over 10 years, releasing the timberlands to Swayne," according to Braun. In further studying the negotiations and their outcomes, Braun learned that from 1917 to 1939, "The Swaynes had a railroad and property tha was either only partially paid for or covered by lease." Despite this, no one came after them for either more money or the property. While the Swaynes reopened the relatively new mill -- closed shortly after it was built -- it also added improvements. Timber holdings then amounted to 600 million feet of timber, which was 65 percent pine. Other sources indicated that the pine would later become a problem for the company since its marketability was limited. Despite initial successes and its ability to weather much of the Depression, the Swayne Lumber Company finally came to an end in 1938, as Moore said. The long years of no markets for lumber and the constant need to reduce costs finally brought all operations to an end. Custom Cakes for Every Occasion! Fresh Flowers Excellent Wine & Liquor Selection Text EDELI to 72727 Find us on ! HOMETOWN Hwy 89, Greenville 530.284.1777 [i:)[i ( i ! ~ lum r camp Victoria Metcalf Assistant Editor Before trucks and good roads, timber operations established logging camps within easy reach of their work. "Camps housed anywhere from 60 to 150 men, depending on the number of 'sides' or loading locations being utilized," said Paul Beckstrom and David W. Brain in their book "The Swain Lumber Company: Narrow Gauge Logging in the Merrimac Forest." Initially single men lived in the camps, but later tents on wooden platforms and canvas shelters were set up for married men and their families. Although the lumber company furnished the platform, the families had to supply their own shelter. Among those employed to work in the woods were fallers, buckers, choker setters, choker hole diggers, whistle punks, donkey engineers and firemen, wood choppers, teamsters, hook tenders, loaders, head riggers, night watchmen, a donkey doctor, a pipe man, cable splicers, a donkey fireman for pumping donkey and saw filers. For those unfamiliar with logging and the lingo of the times, here are some of the translations. A donkey refers to a steam donkey engine that was first patented by John Dolbeer of Eureka in 1883. A choker setter initially attached a line to a log. The whistle punk was usually a boy or young man who rana communicating wire that ran from the choker setter out among the logs to a steam whistle on the donkey engine, according to the Mendocino Coast Model Railroad web site. "When the choker setter had secured the line running from the spool, the whistle punk tugged his whistle wire next log." The choker hole setter, sometimes called a gopher, was the man who made a hole under a load of logs or even a single large log so that a choker or line could be attached'to it, according to The Society of American Foresters. A woodchopper was required to cut wood specifically to stoke the boiler to power the steam donkey engine. Also found in the camps were the camp boss, cooks, dishwashers, waiters and a timekeeper, and sometimes a blacksmith and a welder. Upper Granite Basin, one of at least 13 camps operated by the Swain Lumber Company, is where the two bunkhouses were found and relocated to Four Trees, according to Mt. Hough Ranger District archaeologist Cristina Weinberg. Near the site of present-day Four Trees is a sign indicating the direction of an area known as Letter Box. Letter Box appears on a recorded list of camp inspections in 1932. At that time, the inspection report listed that the camp had 67 native-born Americans, 13 foreign born; one Italian, two Germans, eight Scandinavian and two Slavonians. That same year, there were 75 men in the Letter Box camp, and three women and two children. According to Braun, who interviewed previous Swayne employees, the company only operated one camp at a time. "Swayne's logging camps were all located along the narrow gauge railroad and typically close to streams to supply a good water source," explained Jamie Moore, Feather River Ranger District archaeologist. Moore calls the portable camp cars used for living quarters for the men skid shacks. They were easily loaded onto rail cars and as a signal to the engineer moved toanother camp as that the log was reatI t*0'b ahd anoth6r' 3 hauled in," according to the opened. web site. "As soon as one log Built between 1917 to was in, or "yarded," it was around 1920, the skid shacks detached from the line; then were 8 feet wide and 28 feet the horse hauled the line back from the donkey engine to the waiting choker setter and the See Camp, page 1 1B Quincy, CA 95971 | $59.99/m0. DVR included! Offer expires !/14/19. Restrictions apply. CaJ for details Local Deater, Local Service, Cali Today! Satscan Electronics (800) 9v6-=9~4 d~ NATURAL PLANT DYE WORKSHOP There is something almost magical about using truly organic ingredients that you've sourced from the environment to make your own dyes. Join us and leam how to dye a beautiful silk scarf and yam using ingredients found in nature! 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