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California \ Michigan-California Lumber Co.

Michigan-California Lumber Co.

By John Barnhill.

he American River Land and Lumber Co. began logging the Georgtown Divide in 1890. Logs were delivered to the river via a chute and thus floated to a mill in Folsom,CA. As logging progressed further back into the woods, a narrow guage railroad was built to bring the logs to the chute. The first locomotive arrived in 1892.

In 1900, the entire operation changed hands to the El Dorado Lumber Co. and the rough cut mill was relocated to Pino Grande. 1901 saw the building of a cableway to haul the lumber from the north side of the canyon to the south side where the narrow guage continued its journey to a new planing mill in Camino. The finished product was taken by the standard guage CP & LT, also owned my Mich-Cal Lmbr, to a connection with the SP at Placerville.

After an economic downturn in 1907 shut down the operation, the company was sold in 1911 to become the CD Danaher Pine Co. Hands changed once again in 1915 to RE Danaher Co. and finally became the Michigan-California Lumber Co. in 1918. By this time the company owned nearly 60,000 acres of timberland and spread miles of railroad lines throughout the forest.

The cable was rebuilt in 1929 but fires swept away South Cable on March 15, 1949 forcing the railroad to construct a suitable roadway for trucking to replace the cable. The company decided not to rebuild the cableway and the rough cut mill moved to Camino, The remaining nine miles of track between Camino South Cable were pulled up by the end of 1949. By 1951, all the rail lines were torn up and scrapped. In later years rail was relaid from Camino towards South Cable. For a time it was operated as the tourist railroad, Camino, Cable & Northern, before once again having the rails taken up.

Reference Data Available Online:


Collected Mich-Cal Photographs.
Images collected from private collections, libraries and historical societies.

Fritz-Metcalf Collection - Michigan California Lumber, views from the 1920s.
Marian Koshland Bioscience & Natural Resources Library, University of California Berkeley.


"El Dorado Lumber Company's Suspended Cable Tramway". Mining and Scientific Press November, 30, 1901. - Courtesy

Additional Websites.

Foothill Rails - Michigan-California Lumber Company.
John Barnhill actively researches the Mich-Cal and has assembled a fine resource on his Foothill Rails website.

California \ Michigan-California Lumber Co.
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