Friday, November 30, 2012

Historic remains of sawmills from the 1860s

I had a fellow email me the other day and ask the question about what would he look for to find the remains on an 1850s era sawmill located in the Sacramento valley This man is a serious historian with genuine credentials, so the mere fact that he is asking ME anything is quite a boost to my pride. As many of you know this blog is mostly about historical stories. A lot of the stories told here are shared as tidbits of information that could possibly lead to the true stories that seem to come out after some great discussion. But sailing ships, sawmills, and big machines has been one of my life long passions, so here's what I came up with.

As honored as I am that he asked me, I'm not sure how much help that I could be. I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about it. He told me that he thought that he had found the flume that lead to mill, and he has a board known to be from the mill. He said that the board was made from a circular saw. He knows that the saw was a 48" diameter blade because he measured the saw-kerf.

I started thinking about what I would do if I were looking for 1850s sawmills. The only conclusion that I came to is that I would give up. However, I'm not sure that would be the answer that he was looking for. Many people succeed because they don't realize that their attempts are futile. I thought about what artifacts might be left behind. Hardly anything back in the 1850 had any iron in them. I assume that iron was rare and expensive in California back then. All the Iron had to be shipped into San Francisco, then blacksmithed into whatever parts that were needed. I assumed the sawmill of the 1850s were mostly made of wood. Wood was free and plentiful. The Drive belts would have been made from leather bands. The pulleys were most likely made out of wood. Any iron shafting would have been more valuable than gold, so any remains would have certainly have been salvaged, The saw blade would have also been expensive and highly salvageable.

The only possibility of remains, that I could think of, would have been iron nails. If the mill had burned there would have been some nails left in the ashes. Even then I can remember my grandfather sifting through the ashes of a house that had burned to collect the nails, so I'm sure that any remains of an 1850s era structure would have been picked through very thoroughly for Iron, no matter how the mill ended.

Then as a "Bullshistorian" I put myself back in the 1850s and became a sawmill. I am a fine sawmill. Back in the 1950s (when I was a kid) you were considered to be a darn smart man if you could make a success out of running a sawmill. So if I were a sawmill with a darn smart man running me, where would I be found in 2012? I have the brilliant advantage of being able to see what I'm headed into, because if I can be a sawmill, then I can also have the power to ask the people of the future where I'm going to end up. Okay, Enough silliness, but we do know what the mill had to go through getting to 2012.

The first thing that the mill would have to go through would have been salvagers. There would be no metal at all. I thought of the shafting, saw blades, nails, I even thought about the old poured babbit bearing caps that the must have used. they would all had been salvaged. So, I was left with rock structures, ditches and excavations. The mill would have been built on a flat large enough to hold logs and the lumber production, there would have been a road away from it. There would have been a need for power. Back then everything would have been mule power or water-wheel driven. The flume that this historian talked about was maybe for power or maybe ti transport logs too the mill. Some plumes were used for both power and log transport. The historian says that he can possibly identify the plume. The mill would have definitely been located near the river... no doubt in my mind.

If I were a mill by the river, I would have certainly been washed completely away by the huge flood of 1862, called the "Noachian Deluge" . It was by far the greatest flood that the western United States has ever known. I really don't think that any viable remains of sawmill could possibly be left. We have also had numerous floods since then that would have further cleared out any remains.

If I were a mill on high ground (I doubt that to be the case) I would leave rust, ashes, excavations, rock structures and absolutely nothing of any intrinsic value.

I'm kinda looking for comment about what I might have forgotten. Most of the early mills that I know of from the early days of California were frame saws, with a man on top and a man on the bottom The saw was lifted by the man on top, then when the saw was pulled down it made the cut.

I'm kinda also hoping that "Oregon" might know how saws were made back then. Insert bits?

Anybody have any ideas how we might help a REAL historian find his mill???

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Folks, the 70's and today

Comment script is OFF. I sure miss the days when we didn't have to use squiggly words to make a comment.

It is good to see that you folks still check in. I keep jotting down ideas for posts... then misplace them. I do remember one though that I have spent a quite a bit of time ruminating over.

An old acquaintance who came to Garberville with the back-to-the-landers asked me if they were as unwelcome when they came to town as the people that are filling our streets now. I found this to be a really tough question. I keep coming back to my old mantra that you can't judge back then by who we are now. I think that this is a great opportunity to point out what I mean by that. Most of us remember the 70s when the back-to-the-landers showed up. It was best described as culture shock more than anything. The back to the landers had to adjust to us a little, and we had to adjust to them a little.

One of the biggest things that I noticed back in the 70's is the thought that if someone found something on the street they would take it, because if they didn't take it someone else would. Up until that point it was pretty much understood that, all you needed to know is that; If it wasn't yours you didn't touch it. We started having to lock doors and take the keys out of our cars. The culture that the back-to-the landers came from, it was understood that things had to be kept locked, so they saw us as foolish for not knowing that.

I think that it is important to point out, as I always do, that all people are different, and not all people took things that didn't belong to them. But they all looked alike to us, and some were thieves. I'm not saying that we were perfect, but at least we knew who our thieves were. If something came up missing, we knew who took it and went to get it back.

One of the other differences that I noticed was the grinding filth on the new people. We never came to town without taking a bath and putting clean clothes on. The only exception would be the people coming home from work that stopped at one of the honky-tonk bars, or to pick up some food at the grocery store on their way home. I once asked one of the new people how they could stand being so filthy all the time. He replied in a voice of incredulity... "How can you think that this is dirt? The land around here is so clean. The air is clean and everything is so clean. Filth is only in the cities". So, that was their answer to why they didn't think of themselves as dirty.

An old friend of mine, by the name of Fred Wolf, once said to me. "You'd better make friends with these people, no matter what you think of them, they're buying land and they are here to stay. Someday they might be running you off." Fred was a remarkably perceptive fellow. I always thought hard about what he said. I did try to meet the new people half-way and accept at least some of their cultural differences. Some I probably will never accept, and I'm sure that some have some problems with me. But, for the most part, I think that the old-timers and the new people have formed a new society that that works quite well. I know that some of them that showed up looking like dirt-balls look pretty spiffy now. I'm not sure why they cleaned up but I sure appreciate it.

But, the question was how do the new people of today compare to the new people that came in the 70s. They don't... there is absolutely no comparison. The new people of today are just as filthy as the new people of the 70's, some of them are thieves. Shoplifting is rampant. Our store has security systems that record their crimes, we usually find them down at the park at the North end of town. They always justify the reason that they stole stuff by saying that they weren't hurting anyone personally, they were just taking from the greedy corporations. I can tell you that it feels pretty personal when we have to pay for it. Believe me when I say that the that corporations are glad to sell us more. So the thieves are doing more to help the greedy corporations than hurt them.

The people that came in the 70's would seem to start a complete new life. They dressed up in country clothes, bought themselves "mountain boots". They would walk in mud all day long and then they would walk right into a store with them. I once did an informal survey back then. When someone would walk in a store and track mud everywhere, I would ask them where they were from, most of them were from a city and didn't know that they should clean their feet before coming inside. The country folk are getting worse about that, and the city folk are getting better. Believe me you notice when you have to clean up after them to keep your store clean. We want the business, and we pretty much accept the mud. But really folks......

Some of the 70's folks were kind of comical, they were obviously from the city but they would play country dress-up; boots, 14 inch hunting knife on hip, jeans and a holey shirt, a beard was mandatory. We used to call them "Later-day Daniel Boones." They adopted new names, which was also curiosity to us. The local people honored their names and their families, to change your name would be an insult to your family.

Today's new people are today's carpetbaggers. Most are blatantly here to trim marijuana. They are not buying land. They have no interest in being part of the community. They will be gone as soon as people stop handing them money and bags of weed. Sheriff Downey asked me the other day if I thought that the people hanging of all over town were hurting my business. I replied "Yes, Definitely. I can give you a list of people that have told me that they won't come to Garberville anymore, specifically because of the pan-handlers and bums that litter our sidewalks". He then went on to ask me, "Well how bad is business off?" I had to tell him that we are doing better than ever, the same industry that brings the bums to our streets is the same industry that brings Garberville prosperity.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but some of my best friends are now among the new people that moved here in the 70's. The biggest similarity between today's new people and the new people of the 70s is that they are new, and culturally different from what we are used to. We adjust, we have no choice.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Some More

Hi, It's me again...
I have been through so many computers lately that I can hardly remember how to find my blog on the Internet. I have one AT tablet at home that runs Windows Seven, and one at work that is just like it, only it is set up differently. It gets confusing. Then I have a Samsung smart phone that runs Android. The smart phone is where I go to check on the blogs. As you might guess, the phone is not really a great forum to use in publishing on a blog. The Android system is not compatible with the programs the Generation "Y" uses now. They seem to like any system that is different from that status-quo. It somehow makes them feel smarter if they can leave others behind... that would be me. But I never give up, no whippersnapper is going to leave me in a snowbank for long. I also still have my old Dell that is quite comfortable for me to use, but, alas... it is being abused as a store cash register. My revenge is that if they ever turn it off they have to unplug it, disconnect all of the wires and peripherals, remove the memory batteries, then wait 5 minutes. Then they have to put the batteries back in, plug it back in, push the start button and reconnect all the wires and peripherals, then set all the dates and times so it knows what day it is. I get some joy out of knowing that there is thirteen computers on the system, and mine is number thirteen. I bet that they worry about the bad luck thing.

We have discussed what is wrong with my computer a thousand times, but we never seem to get around to fixing it. Being from the old school, I had assumed that it was a weak power supply. My theory was that the computer has a lot of bells and whistles built in to it, so is uses a lot of power. It keeps my office quite toasty in the winter time. My office is an old produce walk-in refrigerator, which seems somehow fitting for a refrigeration contractor. It's easy to heat, so the computer is all that I need for heat.

The monitor that I use was a 32 inch High-Definition 1080i television. It was a television that was returned to the store as "defective". In actuality it was hit by lightning. The verdict was to send it to the dump. Being an old school repairman, I assumed that it was just a bad power supply. I took it apart and tested the power supply with a tester. Sure enough, it had power into the supply but none out. After discussing it with the crew a thousand times they said that the TV would be no good that it was not worth fixing. Being one to not take the word of a whippersnapper, I found a power supply on the Internet and paid @200 dollars for it. I installed it, and the TV worked perfectly. I put the TV back on the floor and told the crew to sell it as used, get what ever they could, but not to lie to anybody, to tell them it was repaired, and give a 1-year money-back guarantee. The crew said that they would not sell it under any circumstance because they didn't want to risk THEIR reputations on a repaired TV.  So, I took it into my office, secretly being somewhat insulted, but strangly proud of our crew, even if they were wrong, and I have been using it as my computer monitor ever since. I get a lot of complements on my fine monitor. It sits about four feet away and I don't even need my glasses to see it quite sharply.

Anyway, I discoverd a long time ago that the problem with most failed electronics is... DUH... a bad power supply. Around 90% of all failures is a bad power supply, so if all you did was change power supplies you could fix 90% of the things that you work on. My computer use a lot of power, so by unpluging everything then turning it on, only the computer starts on low power. After it is running the rest can be added without tripping out the power supply. The whippersnappers save time thinking about the "whys" and just say "Yep, a bad power supply". I know the theory is all wrong, but hell, 90% of the time I am right by accident.

So much for my computer. My blog works best in Internet Explorer, so I switch to IE ( I hate abreviations because I think that it is just plain lazy to do all that writing, then leave your readers behind, stuned and confused by using abreviations that they might not pick up on. So, when I say IE I mean Iternet Explorer. Now you know why I just spell everything out... it's easier) The problem that I'm starting to experience is that hackers and spammers have found all the chinks in IE's armor. To much span gets through and some of my most beloved commenters don't. Dang!

I'm Hoping that Santa Claus will bring the store some new computers and I can have my old stand-by Dell back. Then maybe I can do some Blogging. If you have problems my email is
ernie @ Tighten up around the "@" to email me. I had to leave the space so that the dang spammers don't pick up on it as a link.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veteran's Day

Today is the day that has been set aside to honor the men and women who protect our great country. Actually we all know that Veteran's Day officially happens on the 11th of November, but when it falls on a Sunday it is moved to the following Monday, which is today. Veteran's Day is one of our most solemn holidays. It's not really a celebration as much as it is an observance of the value of our soldiers, and a remembrance of their dedication.

I hardly ever vote for a tax increase, but I can honestly say that I have always voted for any measure on the ballot that would help our soldiers. I can only hope that some of the money that we have voted for them actually helps them. Sadly, I suspect that some of the money that was supposed to be set aside for them has disappeared through some political wrangling. Only the lowest of the low would do such a thing, but it does happen. We need to pay more attention.

I have a veteran friend that I have breakfast with every Friday, last Friday I insisted that it was my turn to buy, I know that it is not much, but it makes me feel just a little bit better to thank a Vet. If you know a Vet, be sure to thank them.

I've been very lax about blogging lately, but the Veteran's Day observance has sprung me loose from my dry spell. Many good stories have stacked up and I would like to put them out there. I would like to thank all of my gentle readers that have expressed their desire to read more... so brace yourselves. I feel a new wave of "Bullshistory" coming on.