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California \ Sanger Lumber Company

The Sanger Lumber Company.

By John Barnhill

I nspired by the success of the Madera Flume & Lumber Co. operations, Hiram Smith and Austin Moore incorporated the Kings River Lumber Co. on 30,000 acres near Sequoia National Park in 1888. In 1889 the company built two sawmills near Millwood and a lumber flume to Sanger 54 miles away in the central valley below. Two years later a 3-foot guage railroad using two 2-truck shays followed to haul nearby logs to the mills. After continually losing money, creditors reorganized the operation as the Sanger Lumber Company in 1895. The entire operation, was moved 5 miles east to Converse Basin where a new mill was built. Throughout the next 10 years the company still lost money each season and also gained the reputation as being the most destructive logging operation. They felled over 8,000 Giant Sequoias and gained nothing.

1905 saw the operations sold and moved once again, this time by Thomas Hume and Ira Bennett. The move was a further 4 miles to the east to Hume Lake and included a name change to the Hume-Bennett Lumber Company. Bennett later sold his share to Hume and the name of the company reverted to Sanger Lumber Co. The railroad and locomotives were standard guaged in 1914 with a third shay being added in 1916. Around 30 miles of track were eventually built and they used 50 log cars. Operations continued until 1923 when continuing losses closed the doors on the company. The shays were sold off for scrap or other uses.

Reference Material Available Online:

Historic References

A Short Account Of The Big Trees Of California by the United States Forest Service.
Contains a number of photographs of logging operations around the Calaveras Big Trees, Plate XIII shows a loaded log train.

California \ Sanger Lumber Company
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