To wrap of the long holiday weekend I share a couple of logging photographs of the Lassen Lumber & Box Company that are provided by Ron Linebarger . Lassen Lumber’s main logging camp, was that of Camp Lasco at the base of Peg leg Mountain that was more or less shuttered in 1929.
Lassen Lumber & Box was the first large scale lumber company established in Susanville in 1918. Forty-five years later, it was history. The economic depression of the 1930s took a toll on the company, and never truly recovered. In 1951, it began the liquidation process and its neighbor, Fruit Growers Supply Company, purchased it and when the last logs were milled, it shut down. Fruit Growers purchased it for the water rights, as they thought about converting their nearby sawmill into a paper/pulp plant. After all, in 1955 Fruit Grower’s co-operative members would switch entirely from wood to cardboard, except for picking boxes.
This added fuel to the debate that the area’s economy needed to diversify, for one day the sawmill industry would become a thing of the past. This opened the subject for debate about attracting a state prison to the area.
In the mid-1880s when Albert Gallatin started purchasing property at Eagle Lake, his main intent was to use the region for summer grazing of sheep. He also owned a substantial ranch in Tehama County. After his death in 1905, his widow, Malvena, scaled back the ranching operations, and most of it was leased to other operators. In 1946, Malvena sold all her Eagle Lake properties to the Lassen Lumber & Box Company.
In 1947, Papoose Meadows through a land exchange between the Lassen Lumber & Box Company and the Lassen National Forest became part of the public domain. Initially, Earl McKenzie had leased Papoose from Gallatin, which the forest service honored. In 1952, Lyman Willard succeeded McKenzie with the now forest service lease. The permit allowed for 470 head of cattle, though Willard did not own that many, so he shared the permit with Elwin and George Roney. In 1966, Willard’s son-in-law and daughter, Bill and Jean Barton came to assist with the Willard operation. In addition, Wally and Billie Roney, like the Bartons, came into the fold of the operations.
It could also be called an omen when the barn at Papoose partially collapsed in 1995. Within the next ten years relations with the forest service had become so strained that the Bartons and Roneys gave up the lease. In September 2013, the forest service demolished the cabin and water tower.
For a brief period there were riding stables at Papoose, that to be addressed in a future post.
Susanville’s uptown/historic district has an eclectic blend of architecture. During the 1920s, during the boom era brought on by the lumber mills certainly left its mark.
Charles McGowan one of the original owners of the Lassen Lumber & Box Company had a very striking residence. The home was constructed in 1924, and he moved his family into their new residence in July of that year. In November 1928, McGowan resigned his post as Vice-President of the Lassen Lumber & Box Company as he was in the midst of taking a new position with the Castella Box Factory in Shasta County. In the spring of 1929, he had the house converted into three apartments, and remains that way after all of these years.
The Lassen Lumber & Box Company (Lassen Lumber) was the smallest of the big three lumber companies, the other two being Fruit Growers Supply Company and Red River Lumber Company. It was also different than the other two, as their source of supply for timber was the Lassen National Forest.
This time the citizens of Susanville were eager to court this new company, having lost out to the Red River Lumber Company and the smaller Western Timber Treating Company. As an incentive they offered the company 40 acres, with water rights and $8,000 cash. They accepted. Construction began on the sawmill and box factory in the spring of 1918 and on July 27, 1918 the first logs arrived at the mill.
For Susanville the payoff was big, during the summer season Lassen Lumber employed upwards to 450 men with a monthly payroll of $65,000. The mill would operate until 1953 when it was closed. More about the history of the company will appear in future posts.
In 1918, the Lassen Lumber & Box Company built a sawmill and box factory at Susanville with an average annual production of 30,000,000 board feet of lumber. Unlike the Fruit Growers Supply Company and Red River Lumber Company, who owned their timber, Lassen Lumber’s main source of timber came from two timber sales they had purchased from the Lassen National Forest. In 1919, they started railroad logging on the northside of Peg Leg Mountain. From 1919 to 1922, they operated three logging camps. In the fall of 1922, construction began on its largest logging camp—Camp Lasco. It opened in the spring of 1923, and became a seasonal home to 250 plus loggers and their families. The camp remained in operation through the logging season of 1930. In the winter of 1930, the Company leased the camp to the Western Pacific Railroad who was in the process of constructing the railroad’s Northern California Extension.
For two years, 1921 and 1922, the big three lumber companies, Fruit Growers Supply Company, Lassen Lumber & Box Company, and the Red River Lumber Company held a competitive swimming meet between their respective employees. Continue reading Eagle Lake’s Water Carnival→
When Lassen Townsite’s unveiled its massive subdivision to the south of Susanville, there was a task of naming all the streets. The streets on the northside of the railroad tracks were named after investors such as Knoch, Pardee and Minckler. The streets to the south of the railroad tracks were named after California counties. When the Lassen Lumber & Box Company established its plant in 1918, they constructed their employee housing on the south side of the railroad tracks, it being adjacent to their mill.