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The Johnson - Pollock Lumber Company.

By Lennart Elg and Andrew Brandon

E lmer E. Pollock got his start in Siskiyou county’s logging industry serving as a director of the Orr Lake Lumber Company. Pollock started his own logging operation at Jerome siding on the Southern Pacific's Kalamath Falls line. His operation utilized big wheels and horse teams to bring logs down from the woods on Mt. Hebron to the small mill. In 1912 a steam traction engine was purchased.1 His operation utilized a steam tractor to bring logs from the woods on Mt. Hebron to the siding. Lumber milled at Jerome was then shipped to the Sacramento area.

Andrew Burlingame Johnson was originally a newspaperman from Southern California who entered the lumber business while in the Philippines after serving as the American Consul in Amoy, China at the start of the 20th century. He also served as the Managing Director of the Insular Lumber Company in the Philippines.2 Johnson had been the president of the Iloilo Electric Company, incorporated in 1905.3 Upon his return to the United States he partnered with E.E. Pollock to form a new lumber company.

In January, 1913 the Johnson – Pollock Lumber Company was incorporated, with A. Burlingame Johnson, M. Earl Johnson and E. E. Pollock as directors.4 The new company built a sawmill at Jerome siding, the only band saw in the region.5 As part of the deal, Pollock's land holdings and mill became part of the company in exchange for $5350.00 and 3 cents per thousand board feet marketable pine timber and 25 cents per thousand feet of other timber. The agreement also included the loading platform in Jerome, the sawmill, lumberyard, and the tramway with cars among other equipment.

In August the same men incorporated the Sacramento Timber & Box Company and constructed a box factory in the Brighton. The company also planned to construct a sawmill near Diamond Springs to supply the Brighton mill.6

The steam traction engine was soon replaced with a short railroad. A 37 Ton shay locomotive was purchased second-hand from Brookings Box and Lumber Co. in Southern California. Track was constructed along the foot of Mt. Hebron to a point near the current Hwy 97. There a switchback allowed the railroad to reach the loading points higher up the mountain. A single donkey engine was used instead of the big wheel on the rough terrain, which made up the majority of the company’s timberland.

During May, 1914, the company petitioned for an overhead crossing of the Southern Pacific at Jerome so the company could log lands owned to the east. The request was denied and the railroad instead built a grade under the SP’s Butte Creek trestle to the south of Jerome. A year later the company reported having three miles of railroad in operation. By 1917 the railroad had grown to 5 miles in length and the mill had a capacity of 50,000 board feet per day.

Tragedy struck when the sawmill burned in June, 1917. In 1918 the company built or purchased a gas mechanical locomotive for use around the mill.7 In August 1919 further tragedy struck when the lumberyard at Jerome burned. After the fire, Johnson – Pollock moved their remaining mill equipment to a new location 60 miles southeast of Sacramento.8

The railroad equipment remained in the area. The shay and cars were sold to the nearby Mt. Hebron Lumber Company. There the locomotive may have been converted to 30” gauge. The Mt Hebron Lumber Co. continued operating through the 1920s. The Shay ultimately wound up in Jerome and was scrapped shortly before WWII.

Some portions of the former Johnson – Pollock grade on Mt. Hebron were later reused by the standard gauge Siskiyou Lumber Company.


Revised: December 31, 2016
1. The Timberman, April 1912.
2. The Far Eastern Review October 1907.
3. McGraw Electric Railway Manual, Volume 12.
4. The Timberman, February 1913.
5. "In The Butte Creek Valley". The Timberman, July 1913.
6. The Timberman, August 1913.
7. "Ingenious Gasoline Locomotive". The Timberman January 1915.
8. The Timberman, December 1919.

Bibliography
Signor, John R; Rails in the Shadow of Mount Shasta, Howell-North Books, October 1982, ISBN: 978-0831071417
The Johnson-Pollock and Siskiyou Lumber Companies. The Siskiyou Pioneer Vol 5, Number 10. 1987

Reference Material Available Online:

Rosters.

Peter Hahn supplied this photo of the Johnson - Pollock Lbr Co 3 cyl. 2T Shay. The photo was taken at Jerome, California, on August 13, 1937, and comes from the R.E. Searle collection.

Note: This loco was originally built to 36" gauge, and there is some disagreement among historians as to whether is was ever regauged.

In the January 1918 issue of The Timberman a home built gasoline locomotive is mentioned.

 

 

 

Photographs.

Collected Johnson - Pollock Lumber Company Photographs.
Images collected from private collections, libraries and historical societies.

Disucssion.

Discuss the Johnson - Pollock Lumber Company on our forums.

Collections:

Oregon Institute of Technology Libraries, Shaw Historical Library. Klamath Falls, OR.
SHL013: Jack Bowden Logging Railroads Collection, 1910-2005.

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