Logging Camps

Logging Camps were established at the end of the railway line to house the workers because there was no means of the workers getting to and from work except by train. There were no roads out into the woods – the train provided the sole means of access. The camps were moved when the timber in the immediate vicinity to the camp was all cut. Along the 10 Mile Branch of the Union Lumber Company’s (ULC) railroad there were 42 camps.

Some camps were very rustic. Others, like the one at Camp One on the Ten Mile Branch had a machine shop, foundry, church, school, store and a dance hall that doubled as a theatre. Camp 1 of the Union Lumber Company still exists. If you proceed north along Highway 1 out of Fort Bragg about a mile before the Ten Mile River there is a road to the east which takes you up over a hill and then down a steep short twisty road there is at the bottom of the hill a broad meadow. This is the site of Camp One. The houses at the back of the meadow were built from the logger’s huts you see in the foreground of the picture below.

A typical logger’s hut housed two loggers. They each had a space of about 10 feet by 8 feet. There was room for a bed and a chair and a hut typically had a wood fired stove. Food, usually good food, was provided in a cookhouse manned (in this part of the world) by Finnish ladies or chinese men. A logger had to well fed. He could easily consume 6,000 calories in the course of a day’s work. The logger got paid a dollar a day and received a new pair of boots once a year with free food and lodging.

There was a wash house with hot showers. If you did not wash your clothes immediately on coming out of the woods then the next morning your clothes would be stiff from the salt in the sweat soaked up by the clothes. Remember the loggers worked a twelve hour day in 100 degree heat. The underbrush was burned to allow the fallers to get at the trees so the work space was dirty and sooty.

The store and dance hall are in the middle of this picture. To the left of the picture was the explosives hut. This is still there with the “explosives” sign on it.

Camp One was the first of 43 Camps that the ULC built along the Ten Mile Branch – see map left – which reached nearly to Willits.

Once the timber was cut the camp was moved via the railway. The picture on the right, of the Navarro Lumber Company shows how the Camp was moved.

If you really want to know what life was like in a camp read A.J. Gray’s book, “The Kid from Camp One”. A.J.’s book provides a first hand insight about life in a logging camp from the view point of growing up in one.

Property of Club Member Tony Phillips

If you really, really want to know about Camp One you need to have a consultation with Dana Culverson who was a tonsorial artist in Fort Bragg for many years after he stopped working in the woods for ULC. Dana and his brothers and sisters were born and lived in a house at the bottom of the very steep hill that leads into Camp 1. Dana says that his existence may well be the result of his mother and father being woken by the work train from Fort Bragg coming into Camp One every morning …… as he says, “there was no TV in them days”. Dana has fond memories of being royally treated by the Chinese cooks to peach pie and remembers a runaway log car hurtling through the Camp (fortunately with no injuries).

There was a dance hall at Camp 1 which, per Dana, had a wonderful hardwood floor and which, after it ceased to be a scene of whirling dervishes on a Saturday nights was, for Dana, a roller rink. Such was the quality of the floor, he reports, it was not damaged by the steel wheels on his skates.

Dana’s first year of school was at the Moss Maple schoolhouse located in Camp One – see picture right.

Dana was in school and spotted the fire started by the overheated chimney stack in contact with the roof which burned the old growth redwood schoolhouse to the ground (no injuries). Dana continued his schooling at the Grange in Inglenook which still exists. You can get a great breakfast there on the first Sunday of every month for $6 and may well be waited on by club members who volunteer there.

Even the schoolhouse moved when the camp moved. If you stop at Camp 20 on the road from Fort Bragg to Willits around the corner from the meadow site the little red schoolhouse that belonged to the Caspar Lumber Company. Look at the side of the building and the skids underneath and you can see that it can be broken into three pieces so that is can be carried on flat cars.

The picture on the left is a logging camp believed to be along the Albion River Railroad.

The picture of the camp on the right, was one the L.E. White Lumber Company railroad out of Elk/Greenwood.

Loggers cabins on the move.