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Johnson - Pollock Lumber Co.

Posted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 2:26 pm
by Andrew Brandon
For the past few days I've been working on revising the history we have posted on the Johnson - Pollock. So far this hasn't been much of a challenge, the page has about a paragraph total on it. There is a lot of confusion surround this railroad and others located nearby. The Jackson & Pollock Lumber company was one of 3 lumber companies in the immediate vicinity of Mt. Hebron which used a narrow gauge railroad in their logging operations, the other companies being the Mt. Hebron Lumber Company and the Siskiyou Lumber Company. Very little has been written about this railroad. John Signor has a brief description of the railroad in his book "Rails in the shadow of Mt. Shasta". Mallory Hope Farrell also briefly mentioned the railroad with photos in the Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette.

Here is what Randy and I have been able to figure out so far:


Elmer E. Pollock begins in 1912 when the "Pollock Lumber Company" of Mount Hebron begins operation utilizing a steam tractor to haul lumber to the railroad (presumably at Mount Hebron Station on the SP).

In 1913, Elmer E. Pollock, A. Burlingame Johnson, M. Earl Johnson, J. E. Moffett, and Clayton P. Smith organize the Johnson - Pollock Lumber Co. in Pasadena.
On April 1913 the same men organize the Sacramento Timber & Box Co. with plans to open a mill 60 miles Southeast of Sacramento. It is unknown if this was related to their operation out of Jerome.

A mill was constructed at Jerome Siding, 2.5 miles south of Mount Hebron Station. The railroad ran from the company’s mill, on the west side of the Southern Pacific Siskiyou line, southward, crossing under the SP line’s Butte Creek trestle, then once on the east side, splitting into two branches, one to the north-west, one to the south-east towards Kegg. At least some track material was leased from the Southern Pacific.

April 1915 - Johnson Pollock Lumber Co Hebron Cal operate a logging road one and a half miles long (Timberman, April 1915, p 48E, via Google)

May 1915 – Three miles in operation (Signor p 168) also Johnson Pollock Lumber Co. Mt. Hebron Cal with a mill at Jerome are operating three miles of narrow gauge logging road The company expects to extend the road two miles into the timber A 27 ton Shay locomotive and six cars are used 45,000 to 50,000 feet are logged per day (Timberman, May 1915, p. 46R, via Google)

1917 – Five miles of railroad in operation (Signor, p 168)

June 1918, the Sacramento Union reports the death of a trainman on the railroad (Sacramento Union, 12 June 1918 via California Digital Newspaper Project)

According to Signor the mill at burned down in 1919. I have not been able to locate a reference to the fire.
September 1919 – The mill and railroad are being dismantled in preparation to move to a new location 60 miles southeast of Sacramento(Timberman, Vol 21, Dec 1919 via Google)

The mill remained in place in some form until 1921 when final lumber was shipped. (Timberman, May 1921 pg52 via Google).


The railroad is known to have operated two locomotives, a Shay and a gas locomotive.

#? - Shay c/n 154, Class B-28/2 (2 truck, 28 ton, 3x 10x10)
36” gauge
Built 8/1887 for Butters & Peters & Co., Mason & Oceana RR #2 (3rd), Ludington, MI
To Brookings Lumber & Box Co. #2, Fredalba, (Lake Arrowhead) CA This operation ended operations between 1912 and 1914
Sold to Johnson - Pollock around 1914.
Converted to 30" gauge in ????
Stored - For Sale 9-8-1923 thru 10-6-1926
Scrapped, Jerome, CA 1937

#? - Gas locomotive – per a report in The Timberman, vol. 19, January 1918
Ingenious Gasoline Locomotive

Johnson-Pollock Lumber Company of Bray, Cal., employs a very simple but ingeniously constructed gasoline locomotive, built from a Ford engine, to transport its lumber on a narrow gauge track from the mill to the loading spur.
Very little is known about the cars used on the line.

“after 1912” A single photo shows three 8 wheel connected log cars, similar to the cars used on Brookings Lumber. The cars in the photo are consistent with a Russell “Pattern No 2” which were known to have been used at Brookings.

May 1915, Timberman Reports 6 cars in use.

1918 Signor reports that the sale of the shay and 13 cars to Mt Hebron Lumber Co.

The Other Railroads

In the 1922s a new company, the Siskiyou Lumber Co. built a new mill west of Johnson - Pollock's former mill site. They also constructed a standard gauge railroad up the side of Mt. Hebron. The mill operated through the end of 1928 when it shut down.

Back in 1913 the Mt. Hebron Lumber Company constructed a mill five miles west of Mount Hebron station and reported it was operating that season. (Timberman July 1913 pg32)
By 1918 Mt. Hebron reported having 3 miles of railroad in operation. Mark Chase is the General Manager, J. D. Cameron the Logging Superintendant. (Timberman August 1918 pg50)
This railroad built a series of switchbacks up Ball Mt. to the west of Mount Hebron Station.
John Signor says the Johnson - Pollock sold their equipment, 1 shay locomotive and 13 cars to the Mt. Hebron Lumber Co. in 1918.
Mt. Hebron Lumber ceased operating in 1928.

Further complicating things: Each of these three railroads was a different gauge!
Based on field research by Scott Gavin the ties of the Johnson - Pollock he located on the grade indicate it was 36" gauge.
The Siskiyou Lumber Co. was standard gauge and Scott found evidence of dual gauge ties where the Siskiyou reused Johnson - Pollock's grade in the 20s.
Ties from the Mt. Hebron Lumber Company on Ball Mountain have spike holes indicating the line was 30" gauge.

The shay being converted to 30" gauge makes sense if it was done for use on the Mt. Hebron, but the locomotive winding up back in Jerome to be scrapped is curious. Did the Mt. Hebron have another locomotive?
It seems the more we dig into this railroad the more confusing it becomes...

Re: Johnson - Pollock Lumber Co.

Posted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:04 pm
by Randy Hees
Concerning the gauge of the Siskiyou Lumber Company... Signor says that it was 3' gauge with a third rail between the junction with the SP at Jerome and the mill to allow standard gauge cars to be loaded directly...

It is reported that it was 2.5 miles from Jerome to the mill (dual gauge), with 5 miles of narrow gauge only logging line.

Reports say the line had a geared engine and 20 disconnect log trucks. Apparently the shay from Johnson-Pollard/Mt Hebron ended up abandoned on track associated with Siskiyou Lumber, and many assume that it might be the geared engine in question. If so it would have had to be regauged (again) to 3'.


Re: Johnson - Pollock Lumber Co.

Posted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 1:04 pm
by trainnut1956
If you drive to Mt. Hebron (the mountain) there are two roads that lead into the forest towards Jerome. The two roads tie together, and cross the Siskiyou Lumber Company grade on Mt. Hebron in several places. Jack Bowden has spent years trying to map the railroad grades on the mountain, which are fragmentary and consisted of two sections - the lower section, which closely corresponds to the lower road, and the upper section. Summer before last, my brother and I were able to finally locate the grade that connected the two sections. If you follow the lower road, it is gated about half way to Jerome and locked. Just west of the gate there is a section of grade that diverts from the lower road and intersects the upper road about a quarter of the way up the mountain. How this information applies to the conversation is this: there are quite a few tie fragments of this section of grade, and we found ties with both narrow gauge spike holes and ties with standard gauge spike holes which would tend to support the theory that Siskiyou Lumber Company may have either laid their standard gauge track over the J-P grade on the lower end of the mountain, using the existing ties - which I doubt because the J-P line east of Jerome used extremely short ties, while the ties on Mt. Hebron are full sized railroad ties - or else SLC had laid a section of dual gauge track. I've heard a theory that when SLC first began logging they may have used the J-P shay and cars for the first season and then built their std. gauge line - this makes some sense. Incidently, SLC's std. gauge Heisler is on display in front of the museum at Scotia, CA.

The whole business about converting the shay from 36" to 30" gauge is confusing. I found enough ties with spike holes on both the J-P line and the Mt. Hebron Lbr. Co. line to confirm that the gauges were different. I suspect that they simply pressed the offside wheels on the shay trucks in about 6" to accomplish this (since shays were designed with this sort of thing in mind so the manufacturer could then used the same basic parts for similar gauged locomotives) but why the MHLC did this is still a mystery. The only thing that makes any sense is that they had acquired some 30" flat cars or logging bunks from somewhere, but why they would use these rather than the J-P logging cars is a question, though some of the J-P rails and quite possibly their cars were sold to the Hobart Estate logging railroad after J-P quit operations, so they might not have been available. A lot more research needs to be done to figure this out.

There was some pretty odd stuff in the Butte Valley area. There was a meter gauge logging railroad near where the road to Tenant leaves Hwy 97, and Peppers Cotton had a 40" gauge tramway that ran from their mill site about a quarter mile to their std. gauge railroad.

One question I have is that John Signor claims that Weed Lumber Co. operated an early logging railroad between Mt. Hebron (town) and the foot of Mt. Hebron (the mountain) just about to the mill site at Jerome (which did not yet exist). I have found no physical evidence that this logging railroad actually existed, nor any other reference for this. If any of you know John you might ask what his source of information was. His map shows this railroad winding all over the flats between the town and the mountain in a matter that doesn't really make sense.

Re: Johnson - Pollock Lumber Co.

Posted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 1:46 pm
by trainnut1956
P.S.: How can I sent photos??? I've lost all my contact information and the blog/website and forums don't appear to allow this...

Siskiyou Lumber was Re: Johnson - Pollock Lumber Co.

Posted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 1:57 pm
by Randy Hees
The confusion over what gauge Siskiyou Lumber might have been* lead me to research that company...

* Signor says that the track from the mill to the SP at Jerome was dual gauge, and that the woods trackage was 36" gauge... (and assumes that the Mt Hebron shay and rolling stock may have been used) The 1925 and 1927 Lumberman's directory lists the railroad as standard gauge. Signor did not have details about the locomotive, which we now know was a Heisler purchased from Mt Tam... Trainnut1956 in the previous post suggests that maybe the Mt Hebron shay was used the first year...

Here are my notes...

Siskiyou Lumber Company
Railroad connection at Jerome, logging on the slopes of Mt Hebron
1923-1928 (1930?)
Note: there is also an earlier Siskiyou Lumber and Mercantile Co which is not associated with this company

Per Signor, Company was organized in Jan 1923 by G. E. Turman, who sold 1/3 interest to R. T. Buzzard, and 1/3 interest to R. A. and J. A. Long. Turman sold his interest to the others in 1924.

The logging railroad was added in 1924 (equipment on site by August per Signor)

Signor reports that the railroad had was dual gauge (standard and 36”) between the mill site and Jerome, and 36” gauge only beyond (note: this is not supported by the Lumberman’s directory, which lists only standard gauge, or the known locomotive, a standard gauge Heisler)

Some theorize that the company may have used the Mt Hebron shay the first year, then converted their railroad to standard gauge after 1924.

Signor reports that the company shutdown “just before Christmas” 1928 (but Siskiyou Lumber Co is still listed in the 1930 SF Directory (p 1318), with R.T. Buzzard Sec-Tres, 620 Market Street, R-607) Bowden reports that the Siskiyou Lumber Company mill received logs cut by the Walker-Hovey Lumber Company at Macdoel who at the time had a logging railroad but no mill.

Entries in Lumberman’s Directories(transcribed)

1925 Lumberman’s Directory
California Logging Operations, p 169
*Includes Logging Railroad

*Siskiyou Lumber Co., 507 Crocker Bldg., San Francisco; camp address, P.O. Mt Hebron; railroad station Jerome; 1 side; daily output 60 M; 1 donkey engine, 2 motor trucks; 1 logging tractor; commissary; 40 men manager, R. T. Buzzard; woods superintendent, Jerry O Callaghan; 5 1/2 miles s.g. track; 30-50 lb. rail; 1 geared locomotive; Air on equipment; maximum grade, 5 percent; 15 sets logging trucks.

1927, Lumberman’s Directory
California Logging Operations, p 223

*Siskiyou Lumber Co., 607 Crocker Bldg., San Francisco; camp postoffice, Mt Hebron; daily output 60 M; 35 men; commissary; 1 motor truck; 5 sets big wheels; 34 horses; route supplies via Jerome for freight; Macdoel for express; camp telephone via Macdoel; manager, R. T. Buzzard; superintendent, Chas Burkhart; purchasing agent, mill office; 7 miles s.g. track; 30-50 lb. rail; 1 rod locomotive; 1 geared locomotive; 20 sets connected trucks, maximum grade, 4 percent; locomotive fuel, oil.

*Includes Logging Railroad


Heisler Locomotive c/n 1446, 2 truck, 13x12, 33” drivers, 72,000 lbs
Ownership History
• Built for Mt Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railroad 12/1920
• Sold to Siskiyou Lumber, Mt Hebron, 1924 for $9750
• Sold to Dolber & Carson (Carson Camp, Elk River) 1938, No 5
• Sold to The Pacific Lumber Co. 1953, No 9 (apearently purchased for display)
• 1956, preserved and displayed at Scotia CA

Sources for locomotive information:
Ted Wurm & Al Graves, The Crookedest Railroad in the World (Interurbans revised edition, 1983)
Benjamin F. G. Kline, Jr. The Heisler Locomotive 1891-1941, (by author, 1982)
Lynwood Carranco & Henry L. Sorensen, Steam in the Redwoods, (Claxton Printers,, Caldwell ID, 1988)

Sources for notes
John Signor, Southern Pacific’s Shasta Division (Signature Press, 2000)
Jack Bowden, Railroad Logging in the Klamath Counry, (Oso Press, 2003)
Lumberman’s Directories for 1925 and 1927 (found at Library of Congress)
San Francisco Directory search

Re: Johnson - Pollock Lumber Co.

Posted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 3:03 pm
by Randy Hees
You can post photos by attaching them... once you start a reply there will be two tabs below the box to add text... below the buttons for "save draft", "preview", and "submit".. one tab being "options" the second being "upload attachment" Once in upload attachment you can browse (your computer) and select a photo to add... then hit the "add the file" button...


Re: Johnson - Pollock Lumber Co.

Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 9:01 am
by elminero67
You've got my curiosity on these lines, Ill keep my eye open for local sources of info. Having said that, if Jack Bowden didn't find it, I doubt I will!

Re: Johnson - Pollock Lumber Co.

Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 7:29 pm
by elminero67
It took me all of 1/2 an hour on the internet to see that this is going to be tough-the area is so far removed from towns that it rarely is mentioned in newspapers or journals. As a footnote, the Grants Pass Courier and the Klamath Falls Evening Herald were advertising for lumberjacks and skilled laborer for the Johnson-Pollock Lumber Company in August of 1919. Strange if they were dismantling the railroad in September of 1919 unless the fire happened in late August or early September.

Also If I read your description of the Jackson-Pollock logging railroad, it would have headed east, possibly towards the timbered slopes of Cedar Mountain, rather than Mt Hebron, which is to the west of the SP line. Or did I misread?

Also, the USGS 1:62,500 1950 topo map of the Bray Quadrangle shows a "lumber railroad" heading southeast from the SP at a siding called "Leaf" (just west of "Bray").
This map also shows some switchbacked roads up Cedar Mountain that are of a pattern more consistent with a logging railroad than a logging road. Unfortunately the 1941 "MacDoel" quadrangle doesn't show any RR lines other than the SP line.

The weather is supposed to be questionable tomorrow, but I'll do a drive by to get a feel for the landscape and see what is left of some of these little communities.

Re: Johnson - Pollock Lumber Co.

Posted: Sun Dec 20, 2015 8:38 pm
by elminero67
Road Trip Report!

It didn't look promising as we went over Siskiyou Pass on I-5. There were several cars that had spun into the ditch and they were only letting people with 4x4s of chains go over the pass. Perfect!

The weather improved as the day went on, and we were able to check out the area a bit:

This is what is left of Jerome Siding as of December 2015. The west side of the former SP line, where the mill for the Johnson-Pollock Lumber Company would have been, was fenced and posted "no trespassing." We did not go there, but looking at Google Earth imagery, I'm having a hard time picking out the exact location of the mill:


Looks like we were the first to break trail on the road into the semi-ghost town of Bray.Fortunately the Bray/Jerome area only had 5-6" of snow, unlike nearby Mt Shasta that has 10-15 feet in the last few weeks:

While the weather wasn't favorable for a hike or exploration off the main road, we did catch a few trains like this southbound freight passing the stock corrals at Bray:

As we pulled into the "town" of Bray this ol' boy stopped us and detained us until we gave him a chunk of my burrito:

In a nutshell, we didn't accomplish anything but do a road trip, drink too much coffee and eat too much bad food. We'll be back.

Re: Johnson - Pollock Lumber Co.

Posted: Sat Dec 26, 2015 7:07 pm
by Randy Hees
I love it... Sadly snow has a way of hiding evidence...

We will get updates of each of the companies up eventually and will continue to look for more information... there is also a local meter gauge logger... a bit south of Bray... just to add to the confusion.