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California \ Crown Willamette Paper Co.

Crown Willamette Paper Company.

By Andrew Brandon

Located along the Truckee river, near Bronco Creek lies the town of Floriston. On May 22, 1900 the Floriston Paper & Pulp Company opened. At the time it was the largest pulp mill west of the Mississippi. The company was known by several changes in ownership, being known as the Crown Columbia Paper Co., Willamette Paper Co. and finally, the Crown Zellerbach Corporation in 1928.

The mill was hydroelectric, powered by the Truckee River, allowing it to operate year-round. In the fall and winter months when the river was low, the company operated a steam power plant. Local lore states you could tell what the mill was making that day by the color of the river downstream.

The company purchased lumber from the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company. Wood was shipped from Hobart Mills to Truckee and on to Floriston. As the mill began operating year-round at full capacity, further sources of wood were needed.

On August 6, 1924 the company entered into an agreement with the SNW&L where they could operate over their track to Alder Creek, a distance of 3.85 miles. From that point they constructed a 7-mile standard gauge railroad along the creek to Euers Valley. The company purchased a 60-ton Shay locomotive from the Lima Locomotive Works. The shay hauled log trains down to Truckee, where the cars were transferred to the Southern Pacific and shipped to Floriston.

The mill had a narrow-gauge tramway which connected the steam power plant with several structures around the site. No locomotives appear in photographs; however, several short dump cars can be identified in views of the mill.

After several years of court battle with the cities down river from Floriston, the mill closed for good on Christmas Eve 1930. The railroad along Alder Creek was scrapped and the locomotive and machinery from the mill was sent to Camas Washington, where the Crown-Willamette Company built a new mill. The new mill used an electric narrow-gauge railroad system, but it is unknown if any equipment was moved there from the Floriston location.

The remaining buildings of the paper mill were left in place, during each successive year the mill was further dismantled. At the end of the World War II only foundations remained. On March 20, 1949 the famed Hotel along with two adjacent structures burned. When Interstate 80 was constructed through the Truckee river canyon, the highway now occupies most of the location.

Revised:January 28, 2019
Beckstrom, Paul & Braun David W. The Swayne Lumber Company Pacific Fast Mail Edmonds WA 1992

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California \ Crown Willamette Paper Co.
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