Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shipping logs out of Eel Rock.

Photos from internet, kind of like the equipment used at Eel Rock.

My father and his partner shipped millions of board feet of timber out of Eel Rock, back in the early sixties.

North coast timber and lumber must have been the mainstay of the train business. We shippied most all of our logs by rail, some premium logs that were used for "peelers" (Plywod logs) we shipped over the hill to the Highway. Poles we sometimes shipped by truck, but mostly by rail. Peelers had to be stright, tight grain, and no knots. That's kind of hilarious if you've bought any plywood today. You used to be able to buy plywood with "No Defect". Some times you could buy cheap plywood with no more than three "Boats" (patches) in it. The poles had to be straight and long, and we needed a special permit from "The Gestapo" to haul them.

I remember that our freight and packages were delivered to the train station in Eel Rock, but somebody had to be there to sign for them. There was a roofed loading dock on one end of the station and a small shed was the other end. There was a small shed about the size of an outhouse that had a phone and all of the shipping papers in it. You had to have a key to get in. The siding only held about ten railcars. But we had a booming logging operation. The railway had it's own phone system strung along the tracks. It all went away in the '64 flood.

We hauled our logs across the river on one of those long sideways riffles that are so common on the main Eel. The trucks that we used were modified highway rigs that had their bunks widened, lengthened, and had swing down stake-sides welded on. The truckers loved it. They got paid by the thousand board feet that they hauled, and they could haul about twice what they could on the highway. They didn’t have to license their trucks, and they didn’t have to pay fuel tax. So they were in fat city, and hog heaven. The conversations around the landing at lunch were always about how nice that it was to work off-road. They could haul anything that they wanted, any way that they wanted. They could even drag a log behind them if they wanted. Of course they wouldn’t, but the thought that they could tickled the crap out of them. They said the best part about hauling off-road was that they didn’t have to put up with the Friggin’ Gestapo! (CHP). And, OH… The language was much more colorful than I could ever post here! They got pretty graphic about what they thought should happen to the cops, then they would laugh like Hyenas.
I was fifteen at the time that we lived there and my job was to keep the roads and landing watered. I drove an old White brand dump truck with a water tank and a bar spreader across the back. The truck had a five speed main transmission, and a four speed brownie transmission, and a Duplex box. (two gears) Altogether you could be in any of eighty speeds forward or eight in reverse. The truck had square gears and vacuum brakes. I learned early on to be in the right gear before I needed it. The old square geared truck would not shift on a hill, and the brakes would only stop the truck once. If you tried to stop it twice the brakes would heat-up and fail. If the motor died it had a reserve vacuum tank that would stop you once, but then you didn’t dare let off the brakes because the vacuum would be gone. The only good feature was that the driveline emergency brake held good, but if you applied it while it was rolling, it would snap the drive-line in two.

You couldn’t water going up the hill because the road would be to slick to come back down. If you watered going down the hill, and you got too much water flowing, it would run up under your wheels and would start sliding down the hill. I soon learned to use very little water and go real slow. I learned that without even dieing first, like a lot of water truck drivers have.

On days off I would fish in the Eel River. In the fall of the year, half pounders would come up before the fall rains and you could catch them by the dozens. Or, I would go quail or deer hunting. I spent a lot of time swimming and being a boy. That was just yesterday, wasn’t it?

32 comments:

omr said...

another great preserved for history reminescence. i so appreciate your writing.

Kym said...

I agree with OldManRiver. Often I find it difficult to read on line but I savor your posts. My dad used to work at one of the little sawmills--Duncan's maybe? They're all gone now.

Ben said...

I have a feeling a lot of folks don't know what a half-pounder is anymore. Sad.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ben

I liked catching half-pounders more than anything that I did out there. I had a little spinning rod and reel with four pound test line. I would have to play them for ten or fifteen minutes before they would give up and came in... Well maybe I made a bigger deal out of it by pretending that I was landing a Marlin. The water was warm in the fall of the year and I would just wade around in the river with Levis and tennis shoes on.

OMR,
I wish you could have been there. It was the last of the good old days.

Kym,
I caught part of your interview on KSLG today, but not enough to get the gist of it. SoHumBorn sounds a little gravely voiced. You know that it is not fair that you know who it is! I didn’t get to hear what grower dude had to say, (I Forgot his Nom de plume)

ross sherburn said...

KYM,i'm stretching my memory here,but would that have been dugans mill,that your dad worked at??? ernie,was there a dugans mill??

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ross and Kym. Yes there was a Dugan's Mill west of Garberville, and there was a Duncan's mill that re-milled lumber into pallet stock. It was located just south of Benbow. Chuck Dugan. John Duncan

Anonymous said...

Ernie, what was the name of the mill South of New harris? Where Jurene grew up.

ross sherburn said...

thanks ernie!do you have any personal pics,of logging back then?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ross,

That was Dugans mill, the road turns west and goes down the hill right after you come out of the trees heading south. It's still called "Dugans Mill".

So where was M&M lumber company? I know that M&M was Munson and Munson, and I remember Bob Munson, but I'm not sure where his mill was.

ross sherburn said...

munsons mill was just south of alderpoint,wasn't it??i went to grammer school with bobby jr.,we were in the same class.there are pictures of munsons in the alderpoint store,or at least there was,about 5 years ago?? think the munsons moved on to montana?or idaho?

Kato said...

What a great education for a fifteen year old boy. Glad you have a forum for sharing these memories, Ernie.

Kym said...

It was fun watching them wire sohumborn up to sound weird--Watching the lips move and the Truman Capote impersonating a truck driver voice come out. Hard not to laugh.

Eric Sligh is his real name not his nom de plume. His new Grow magazine is out. Outstanding, amazing photos of fields of huge marijuana plants from the air!

Ernie Branscomb said...

I need my cousin "Oregon" to chime in here. I think that M&M was bought out by Georgia Pacific which was later changed by the trust busters to Louisiana Pacific because Georgia Pacific was getting to big and becoming a danger of being a monopoly.

Bob Munson’s air strip was just south of the mill.

I forget what the name of the mill right in Alderpoint was, but the Teepee burner is still there.

Greg said...

A great description of off-roading at it's grandest. I doubt if we really want to go back to those times. A few reasons: In those days creeks weren't bridged or culverted, they just drove right across 'em. Sometimes they didn't water the dusty roads - they oiled them. It's safe to say most timber workers paid taxes and most marijuana workers do not. Driving local highways was a real adventure, sandwiched between roaring log trucks racing along both twisty lanes of road at sixty m.p.h. Pot wasn't prevalent, but Old Crow rode along in a lot of those cabs. The north coast was the last of the wild frontier!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Most all of the loggers would have a can of beer between their legs on the way home from a hot, dusty, thirsty, day at work.

Most of the County roads back in the "60's were dirt roads. If you traveled the roads back in the hills you always kept an eye open for the "County Maintainer” (road grader) so you didn’t run into it. Nobody wants to hit a grader, they’re solid iron. Old Bill Bushnell, who ran the maintainer, always said he could tell where Goforth and Branscomb Logging company was logging, because all he could pull out of the ditches were beer cans.

spyrock said...

back in the early sixties my foord cousins used to work at a lumber mill in ukiah. i think duane was still alive living in willets last i heard. i printed on cardboard boxes made by georgia pacific. the gp salesman used to take my boss virgil skinner golfing all the time so this went on for many years. these were open end boxes. today, most everything is in a tray with shrink wrap. just a square flat sheet. i tried real hard not to make any mistakes printing because i thought i could save trees that way. but i earned a living off your wood all the same for over 30years. millions of cases of food going all over the world in your wood by-products.

Anonymous said...

Ernie, I don't know when that mill was built but do know Red Russel worked there in 1954. If it is the old M&M mill it changed hands to Crowford. The mill burned down in 1967 or 68 and when it was rebuilt it was GP. In 1972 it was Lp till it shut down in April, 1981.


Oregon

Ernie Branscomb said...

Thanks Oregon, I thought that you were lost again. Did you mean Crawford?

Spy, are the Fords any relation to Frank Ford of the Laytonville Sawmill?

That's the problem with being from an old family around here. Everything ties in fron several directions.

ross sherburn said...

naw!its foord!i know that one,very well!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Foord!.. Whod'a thunk!

ross sherburn said...

spyrocks cousins are foords!frank ford was a covelo boy,came to riches in laytonville!both frank and my dad ended up in the corning area upon retirement.frank went to my dads funeral,i went to franks!

Anonymous said...

Yep, I ment Crawford. I don't type weel.

Oregon

ross sherburn said...

frank crawford!another plane crash story.i think they found the wreckage 15 years later????

Anonymous said...

Yea Ross, another story of don't sleep on auto pilot. I do that a lot it seems, but I maintain ground clearence.

Oregon

ross sherburn said...

guess it was two years later,hunters found the wreckage.i looked up the stats this morning!

Anonymous said...

Ernie,

Who owned the property back then? I think Nunnemaker and Hoisington (was McBride) own across the river now, but were these ranches much larger in the past? I remember hearing that the Fearrein Ranch was much larger too.

Did the road from Eel Rock connect back to Alderpoint Rd back then?

Fun stuff to read!

Anonymous said...

"ross sherburn said...
guess it was two years later,hunters found the wreckage.i looked up the stats this morning!"


Ross,
Where were you able to find those stats? Thanks.
Greg

ross sherburn said...

GREG!first of all, i'm not a whiz at this computer stuff!! i think i typed in FRANK CRAWFORD LUMBER COVELO or FRANK CRAWFORD PLANE WRECK. i guess i'm googling,when i'm searching this way??? hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ross!
-Greg

Anonymous said...

Here's an excellent link to some Frank Crawford history, as noted by Ross. Good job, Ross. You google well.
-Greg

http://www.mrc.com/history_project
/biographies/merlo_Q2.htm

Anonymous said...

Are you talking about the Crawfords from Laytonville whose family all died in a plane wreck in the 60s? Was the mill later PH&E?

ross sherburn said...

i believe so!to my knowledge,crawford had several mills in the north state.don't know actually where they lived???