Gone, But Not Forgotten
The whistles of the mills and the locomotives that brought the redwoods to the mills along the Mendocino Coast blow no more. They are all gone. The Georgia Pacific mill in Fort Bragg was the last (big) mill and it closed in 1998. The railroads and the mills are gone but not forgotten – at least by us.
Logging has not changed – trees are cut, hauled to the mill and shipped to market. When logging along the Mendocino Coast began about 1850 the trees were cut by hand by axe and the logs were brought to the mill by horses and oxen. The cut timber was shipped out of the doghole ports along the Mendocino Coast by sailing schooners. Steam came to the woods around 1883 in the form of steam driven donkey engines (dolbeers). Railroads went into the woods and steam locomotives hauled the logs to steam driven mills. Steam ships joined sailing schooners to move the lumber to market. Steam disappeared when bulldozers, chain saws and very large logging trucks transformed the industry starting in the 1930’s and lumber started going to market by 18 wheelers.
In 1910 if you wanted to know ANYTHING or EVERYTHING about Logging you could buy "The Complete Idiot's Book of Logging". It's real title was, "Logging and Lumbering or Forest Utilization" and was written by C.A. Schenck. Carl Alwyn Schenck was born in Darmstadt, Germany in 1868 and studied forestry at the Universities of Tubingen and Gissen. He was granted his Ph.D. in 1894 and was recommended by Brandis and Pinchot to be the chief forester at Vanderbilt's Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Schenck's arrival in Asheville was revolutionary in that he was the first man in the USA who was a professionally trained scientific forester. In 1898 he helped to establish the Biltmore School which trained students in scientific forestry. He also traveled the USA giving tours and lectures. In 1914 he returned to Germany and served as an officer in WWI on the Russian front. After the war he continued traveling the USA and Europe until he was forced to return home again in 1939 with the onslaught of WWII. He resumed his work and travels in the 1940's and was appointed by the U.S. military government as chief forester of the new American state of Hessen. He died on May 17 1955 at age 87. He is regarded as one of the foremost pioneers of forestry in the USA and Europe. His book, in its entirety can be viewed in a new tab here or clicking the thumbnail above right. A pdf version of the original can be downloaded here
There are very few movies of "old-time logging". We have located but one – see left. The movie is about 10 minutes long. We can't identify where the shots come from but the movie could easily have been shot along the Mendocino Coast.