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California \ Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Co.

Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Co.

Overton / Hobart Mills
By Andrew Brandon

A t the end of the 1894 logging season, the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company exhausted their available timberland around Crystal Bay. In a trade with the Truckee Lumber Company, they received 5,000 acres of land, located 6 ½ miles north of Truckee. In exchange, they gave the Truckee Lumber Company 5,000 acres of land along the Truckee river between Tahoe City and Truckee.

The narrow gauge railroad at Crystal Bay was disassembled in 1895 and moved to a valley along Upper Prosser creek where the company constructed a new sawmill and town. The town was named Overton after the Superintendent of the company, J.B. Overton.

The SNWL constructed a standard gauge line from Overton to Truckee and purchased a Baldwin 2-4-0 from the Virginia & Truckee Railroad where it had been named the “Mexico”, formerly “J.W. Bowker”. The company also acquired the former Napa Valley Railroad steam car “Napa”, which became the first #4. Flat cars were also purchased from the V&T and ordered from Hammond Car Works in San Francisco.

Walter S. Hobart died in 1892 and his assets were consolidated into the Hobart Estate Company in 1894, managed by his heirs. They continued to operate the company as the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Co.

When manager J.B. Overton retired in 1900, after fulfilling his agreement to get the new town operating, he was replaced by a veteran Tahoe lumber manager, Charles T. Bliss, formerly of the Glenbrook sawmill operation. The town of Overton was renamed to Hobart Mills after J.B. Overton retired and a post office was established.

Stepping up to superintendent was George D. Oliver. Oliver would move up to manager in 1914 when Bliss left, and he would successfully guide the company and town through the rest of its life.

The track reached Sierraville Summit, located to the south of Kyburz Flat. 18 miles from Hobart Mills. This section was operated by the rod locomotives #5 and #6, beyond the summit the Shay locomotives were used on the steeper grades and tight curves.

Logging branches were regularly removed after a season and much of the SNW&L track changed annually. Despite these changes the company reported having 8 miles of track into the woods by 1899. By 1908 the company reported having 20 miles of mainline track.

The heirs of the Hobart Estate Company consolidated their holdings in 1917 and the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Co. was dissolved as a corporate entity, becoming a division of the Hobart Estate Company.

The Hobart Estate Company continued operating the mill and railroad for the next two decades until the company’s lumber lands were cutover in 1936. The mill shut down early in 1937. The last train operated over the line on December 1, 1937, thus ending 40 years of railroad service to Hobart Mills.

Revised: May 12, 2017
Myrick, David F. (1962). Railroads Of Nevada and Eastern California: Volume 1. Berkeley: Howell-North Books. ISBN 978-0-87417-193-8. (Recently reprinted by University of Nevada)
Farrell, Mallory Hope (2012). Rails Around Lake Tahoe. Berkeley: Signature Press.
Wilson, Dick. (1992)Sawdust Trails In The Truckee Basin: A History Of Lumbering Operations. Nevada City: Nevada County Historical Society.

Reference Material Available Online:


Collected Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Co. Photographs.
Images collected from private collections, libraries and historical societies.



Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company; Henry M. Yerington Papers
University of California, Berkeley Bancroft Library

California \ Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Co.
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