When Red River Lumber Company moved to California, its founder T.B. Walker, intention that this was to be his five sons operation: Gilbert, Willis, Clinton, Fletcher and Archie. Clinton, was at odds with his brother’s handling the affairs, and left the company in 1913, but was brought back into the fold during the company’s financial crisis of the 1930s. The Minnesota Historical Society has a large collection of the company records and from time to time I will share some excerpts from the letters between the family members that provides some interesting insight in how the company operated.
The following is a portion of a letter from Clinton to Archie Walker dated October 17, 1936:
“Kline put the finger on our troubles about thirty years ago or so when he pointed out that none of us were interested in timber—none of us woodsmen—that all hands were absorbed in running sawmills. The money was in the timber and not in the manufacture of lumber. There is not and never has been a true effort to determine where we had made our money. You, Fletcher, Willis and Gilbert were practically only interested in milling operations. You found this an interesting occupation which during the past twenty years has paid each one of you around I would estimate $400,000 in salaries.
“During father’s time he pressed timber sales to McCloud, etc., and it has been these sales which kept us going. We have sunk these sale proceeds in Westwood where there isn’t a prayer that we will ever get our money out.”
Clinton was not finished. Fletcher wanted to build another mill at Susanville. If that was the case, Clinton wanted to sale his stock and liquidate every asset he had in Red River. Clinton thought to build a second mill would be a repeated failure like Westwood or in his words, “Another great lemon, second to Westwood.”