PacificNG Header
PacificNG Header 
Printer-Friendly Format
California \ Truckee Lumber Company

Truckee Lumber Company.

By Andrew Brandon

The beginnings of the Truckee Lumber Company date back to March 1867, when Brickell & Geisendorfer erected a sawmill on the Truckee river at Coburn’s Station (later called Truckee). Their primary customer was the Central Pacific Railroad, to whom they provided timbers and crossties.

In 1873, W. H. Krugar replaced Geisendorfer in the mill partnership. E. J. Brickell and Krugar then formed the Truckee Lumber Company. In the same year, they constructed a two-mile-long, 42” gauge tramway to move logs from the woods to the edge of the bluff above the Truckee River. Oxen teams brought strings of logs down to the bluff, where they were floated down the river to the mill.

After the Comstock Bonanza began to decline in 1877, the demand for mining timbers and cordwood declined. In 1880 the company began shifting into the production of boxes. A second box factory was built in San Francisco and the company supplied 9 million board feet of lumber towards production in 1882.

The Truckee Lumber Co. continued this style of operation on Bear Creek and Washington Creek along the Truckee river in Placer County. By 1883 the company controlled twelve thousand acres of timberland, operating four logging camps between Truckee and Verdi, NV.

Dog Valley, near Verdi was logged by the Crystal Peak Lumber Company, a subsidiary of Truckee Lumber Company.

On Washington Creek the previous method of moving logs could not be used. The company purchased a 0-4-0T locomotive from H. K. Porter & Co. Named “Anna”, the little locomotive worked the short railroad.

After the end of operations, the locomotive and cars were sent to the V&T shops in Carson City, NV. There they were rebuilt from 42” to 36” gauge. After the operation on Washington creek ended, the Truckee Lumber Co. would not build another railroad to harvest timber on their lands. Instead, they would partner with other companies to bring logs to their mill.

The company entered an agreement with the Pacific Wood & Lumber Company, which had timber holdings around Martis Peak, to the Southeast of Truckee. The PW&L Co. constructed an 11 mile railroad named the Donner & Tahoe Railroad from the Truckee Lumber Co. millpond, along the Martis Valley. PW&L Co. then contracted with the Truckee Lumber Co. to supply them with 100 million feet of saw logs.

In 1894 the company traded five thousand acres of land with the Sierra Nevada Wood and Lumber Company. The land, located north of Truckee (later becoming Hobart Mills) was traded in exchange for land along the Truckee River between Truckee and Lake Tahoe. On December 13, 1898 the company entered into an agreement with the Lake Tahoe Railway & Transportation Company where they would provide them with a 50 foot right of way through their lands in the Truckee river canyon and supply them with railroad ties, in exchange the LTR&T Co would haul logs at a discounted rate, just barely above cost.

The company operated two branches off the Lake Tahoe Railway’s mainline at Ward and Squaw Creeks.

The growing company began to take interest in other ventures. A mill was constructed on the western side of Donner Lake in 19XX. Near Mt. Shasta at Cantara, the company purchased the F.H. Bardshar Mill in 1907.

During 1909 the company began purchasing timberland along the recently constructed Western Pacific Railroad in the Feather River Canyon.

The Truckee Lumber Co. mill in Truckee ceased operation on November 6, 1909. In 1910 the company purchased the company name “Butte & Plumas Railway” from the Western Pacific, who had incorporated the name as a “paper railroad” front during construction. The new Butte & Plumas Railway was planned as a standard gauge common carrier. Connecting with the Western Pacifc at Bidwell Junction, loaded log cars would be brought to the mill in Oroville by the Western Pacific.

A new mill was constructed in Oroville in 1910. The completed mill began operation at capacity in May 1911. A disagreement with the WP over liability and log cars over their lines lead the Truckee Lumber Co. to shut down in September 1911. The assets of the Truckee Lumber Co. were sold in 1917 to the Swayne Lumber Co.

As a result of the company defaulting on a loan from the Southern Pacific, the mill shut down.

Revised:Aug 6, 2017
Beckstrom, Paul & Braun David W. The Swayne Lumber Company Pacific Fast Mail Edmonds WA 1992.
Ferrell, Mallory Hope. Rails Around Lake Tahoe

Reference Material Available Online:

California \ Louis Voss' Railroad
[ Back ]