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This is an excerpt from the book: 

CASPAR CALLING

by

ANN M. CONNOR
in collaboration with
Mabel Johnson

 

Published June, 1967
at
1220 McDonald Avenue, Santa Rosa, California

COPYRIGHT 1967

 

Reprinted July 1975 911 Orchard Street Santa Rosa, CA 95404

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AT BUCK'S

 

Wives and girl friends joined their men for the occasion, but it was definitely not the old, happy-go-lucky crowd that gathered at Buck's, in the old Caspar hotel, then owned by Lucian and Vicky Bucknam. A lavish feast was set out by Vicky and Emma Moore, consisting of baked ham, chicken, cold cuts, potatoe and macaroni salad, relishes and French bread.

They ate, drank and tried to be merry, and tried not to think of what the morrow would bring. Drinks flowed freely, but somehow no one got drunk- one for the books at Caspar! The conversation went, "Well, what are your plans, Bill?" "I don't know, guess I'll take a vacation and look around, Ed," "Best job I ever had," "it was a good place to work." At two am, the place closed, and they went to their homes.

It was on Monday morning, when the whistle didn't blow as usual, that the finality of it sank in. After 93 years, it was all over.

The last day was especially poignant for Jim Lilley, mill superintendent, as he blew the final whistle. Born in the area, he had held many positions since he started with the company in 1918. These included the sorting table, marking, crane operator in the yard, receiving lumber and scaling. He served as brakeman on the railroad, as watchman (during the depression) and timekeeper, and was assistant to Ruel Perkins. In 1928 he became mill boss and assistant to Fred Stickney, mill super'tendant, whose position he assumed in 1942, upon Mr. Stickney's retirement. He was also postmaster for many years. At Buck's, tears were detected in his eyes, an unusual display of emotion.

Also affected deeply on the lost day was William "Mac" McCarthy, master mechanic - with the mill since 1910. According to Jim, as Mac shut down the machines, he broke down and cried like a baby. There were doubtless many other eyes that were far from dry that day.

----Loyal A. Lemmon, engineer in charge of the double-cylinder engines that ran everything in the mill except the file room, had been on the job for 43 years.

--- Ralph Eagle, head filer, who had taken his apprenticeship from Jack Furlong (known throughout the area as the "Dean of the Redwood Coast Saw Filers) Jack was the best of them all - men paid him to teach them the art. He knew his circular saws and he knew his steel - if it didn't meet his rigid standards he sent it back! (He filed throughout the 1946-47 strike.)

The unexpected ending came about when the company decided to sell its logs to Fort Bragg Union Lumber Company, following a log deck fire at the latter's mill. The transaction involved about two billion board feet of logs and seven million board feet of lumber.

At its closing, it was estimated that the Caspar mill had processed close to two billion board feet of lumber in 93 years of operation, the yearly average running to 20 million board feet. In peak years, around 150 men were employed in the mill and some 50 in the woods.

The company's holdings included all of what is now Jackson State Forest, consisting of some 40,000 acres between Fort Bragg and Willits, which was sold to the state by the company.

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