Excerpt from The Golden Years of Caspar. Ann M. Connor, Editor-Publisher; Edward H. Connor, Production-Photography
LETTER FROM KELLY B. McGUIRE AT CAMP 19, FORT BRAGG CALIFORNIA- OCTOBER 10, 1967
Dear Mrs. Edward H. Connor:
I have just returned from a hospital in Los Angeles - so I missed getting your letters until I got home. In answer to some of your questions.
I first started working for Caspar Lumber Co on January 1, 1927. First as an efficiency man and later as Logging Supt. until about 1952.
I was born in Morgan County, Kentucky September 13, 1891, and was a Veteran of World War One, a Graduate of Oregon State College in the School of Forestry. My father was J.I. McGuire.
I was married in Tacoma, Washington in 1918 to Irene C. Hicks of North Bay, Ontario, Canada. We have four children: Kenneth, Gordon, James and Dorothy.
On January 1, 1927 when I came to Caspar woods, Ruel Perkins was Logging Supt., and Walter Severance was Asst Supt. (Jim Lilley was also Asst Supt. Jack Lilley was Timekeeper at Camp 1. Both passed away in 1967.) Lya Backlund and Adolph Backlund were blacksmiths at Camp 1.
Jack Hickey was Logging Boss at Camp 15, on the Little North Fork of the South Fork of Noyo River. Charlie Brink was Logging Boss at Camp 14, on the Little North Fork of Big River. Leslie (Frank) Jeffries was P & H shovel operator on railroad grade work. Joe Schagar was Track Boss on the railroad.
There was a cookhouse at Camp 1, Camp 14 and Camp 15. All Chinese Camp Cooks. "Wah Bow" was at Camp 1. and seemed to be the boss of all other Chenese cooks. There was both family houses and single mens cabins in all camps.
Logging operations in 1927 consisted of falling, peeling, burning, bucking, all steam power logging. Loading on logging cars and steam train railroad to Caspar mill at Caspar and all in order mentioned above.
A. Falling was all done with hand tools, two men to a set or crew, using cross-cut saws up to 16' length, and sledge hammers, Gunsticks and Spring Boards were all standard tools for falling.trees.
B. Peeling pair with chisel bits were the hand tools used for peeling the trees.
c. Broadcast burning was common practice to clear the heavy bark and litter before bucking the trees into mill length logs.
d. Bucking was a one-man operation, using long cross-cut saws, under-cutters, sledge and wedges, axe, measuring tape, etc.
E. Steam Logging was the method used to drag the logs from the side hills to the railroad track or landing. This was done by the use of Washington two-speed Yarders, Willamett Yarders of various sizes. Some operations were Hi-Lead - some were Sky-Line Flyers and some used Sack Line Flyers. Each method used a crew of eight to ten men. These steam yarders were first fueled with wood - later with fuel oil.
Mules was used to carry the wood to the yarder by use of an iron rack for back pack saddles.
F. The railroad hauled the logs from the woods to the mill. (The "Sampson" locomotive and the "Trojan" were a Baldwin make locomotive - a compound articulating engine - which would operate on a 3% Adverse Compensated Grade. And have an average of 25 car loads of logs per trip by taking half that load up the 3% Grade from Camp 1 - to the tunnel between South Fork of Noyo, and Hare Creek.
The "Smilax" geared locomotive worked above the incline at Camp 12. (There was also another cook house at Camp 12.) The "Little Daisy" locomotive could only haul four cars up this same grade. The Little Daisy locomotive, with a red engine, was much loved by all woodsmen as a Switch Engine.
Gus Bahl, Herb Holquist, Joe Cox and Loyal Lemmon were the railroad engineers on the Caspar Logging railroad of the logging days. Bill Eagle and Bunk Gamble were Brakemen - both killed in railroad wreck at Hare Creek. Jack Leishman was railroad construction boss for more than 40 years. He built the Jug Handle Bridge and many others out to and including the Tunnel and beyond.
The two railroad bridges east of the tunnel was built by Tom McGraw before 1927.
G. Wages have varied with the change in time. The lowest wages came in the depression of the early thirties. Chokemen wages got as low as $0.17 per hour - day wages as low as $2 per day.
Methods have changed with the passing of years. 1940 -1950 great changes took place. Hand falling and Bucking gave way to Power saws. Broad cast burning is no longer practiced. Steam Yarder and Skyline have have all given way to tractor logging. The first gas tractor came in 1928. The first Diesel Tractors came in 1936.
Cookhouses and logging camps are almost unknown now days. People live in town and use private car, pickup or bus for transportation to the job.
Since 1950 many operations in logging are in Second growth timber. The old Caspar Lumber Co. had cut out most all their old growth or virgin timber by 1947, when they sold out thier 47,500 acres to the State of California for $1,500,000 approximately. They reserved some virgin timber to run the Caspar mill some three or four years after the sale to the State.
The old Caspar property is now the Jackson State Forest, the largest State Forest in California. Mr. C. J. Wood, the President and Principal owner of Caspar Lumber Co. requested the property be named the Jackson State Forest in honor of his grandfather - Mr Jackson who was the founder of Caspar Lbr. Co.
Note. Of all names mentioned in this letter - Leslie Jeffries and myself are the only survivors. (1967.) These scribblings may be of some help to you. If I can be of further help please let me know.
Respectfully Submitted Oct. 10, 1967
Kelly B. McGuire