Tag Archives: Railroads

Piute Logging Railroad

Map of the line, showing spurs. 

The completion of the Western Pacific’s highline in 1931 was not the only railroad development to make news. In the 1930s, Red River’s most unusual railroad logging line, the Piute, came to fruition—so named as it followed Piute Creek in its approach to Susanville.

Red River owned a large swath of timber west and north of Susanville. While they had already logged over its easily accessible timber in Mountain Meadows and Lake Almanor, the Piute line was not intended to service Westwood. The Piute was built to generate much needed revenue to sell timber to other parties, such as Fruit Growers and Lassen Lumber & Box. However, they had a back-up plan; should Red River’s timber sales fall flat, they could mill the timber at Westwood. Continue reading Piute Logging Railroad

Davis Cut – Lassen County

Davis Cut under construction. Courtesy of David Ross

In April 1912, the Southern Pacific Railroad announced construction of the Fernley & Lassen Railroad, and awarded the contract to the Utah Construction Company. That company hired a numbered of sub-contractors, the most prominent of which was J.H. Maxey Construction Company. No time was wasted on construction as there was a deadline to reach Westwood by March 1, 1914.  In the fall of 1912, a construction train reached Davis Cut, near Johnstonville.  There were several fatalities associated with the construction of the railroad, and one of them occurred at Davis Cut. On April 13, 1913, James Cook, a powderman for the J.H. Maxey Construction Company, was killed there in an explosion to blast the rock.

For those not familiar with the location, it is just past Brockman Slough, near Johnstonville on your way to the prisons. It was named after the John C. Davis family who owned the property there.

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Flanigan, Nevada

Flanigan, was a railroad town in far eastern Honey Lake Valley, in Washoe County.

Flanigan, 1976
Flanigan, 1976, courtesy of Christopher Moody

In the fall of 1909, the Western Pacific Railroad established a station in eastern Honey Lake Valley that they designated as Flanigan. Patrick L. Flanigan was a prominent rancher and former Nevada Senator who had also granted the railroad a right of way across his lands. In 1912, the Southern Pacific began construction of its Fernley & Lassen line, and at Flanigan, their tracks crossed those of the Western Pacific’s. On July 22, 1913, the Flanigan Townsite was recorded with Washoe County on lands that had been recently purchased by Charles A. Ross and George L. Warnken of Oakland, California. As land speculators, Ross & Warnken had high hopes for this town, but they never transpired. In 1916, there was the bright prospect that Flanigan would be linked to a third railroad—the Surprise Valley Railway—but it never materialized. In 1921, a hopeful oil discovery in the area fizzled. Flanigan existed only as a railroad town, its promoters hopes of grandeur diminished as the years passed by. On March 31, 1961, the Flanigan Post Office closed.

Milne Store
Milne Store

On January 2, 1969, the town’s most notable landmark, Gertrude Milne’s combination store and residence, was destroyed by fire. This was followed with another event that year that marked the end of the community. On June 19, 1969, the Bonham School, located at Flanigan, closed. It was the last one-room school house in operation in Washoe County.

Flanigan, 1984
Flanigan Real Estate Promotion sign, 1984

Note: This article originally appeared on April 3, 2015. I am selecting some early posts, to fill in while I get my Mother’s affairs organized.

The Iron Horse Irony

Leona Jackson posing in front a locomotive at the Susanville Depot, 1919.

When the Fernley & Lassen Railroad was built through a major segment of the Honey Lake Valley, the residents rejoiced. This was especially true for the agricultural community. One of the major crop exports was apples, and now there was an easy and efficient way to ship them.

Yet, on the other hand, no one knew what to expect when the Red River Lumber Company established its company town. Again, the agricultural community was a main benefactor. In a sense, the railroad was not needed to ship meats and produce out of the area, but to ship to Westwood, a new town that had to be fed. When the mills of Fruit Growers and Lassen Lumber were established in Susanville, that increased the demand for more local products.

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Review – Washoe County

Flanigan, 1984
Flanigan Real Estate Promotion sign, 1984

One of the side effects of a new railroad was real estate promotion and/or speculation some might say. When the Fernley & Lassen Railroad was being constructed during 1912-13, it witnessed some new towns along its railroad line in the Honey Lake Valley–Stacy, Litchfield and Leavitt.  Of course, exisiting railroad communities such as Flanigan, Amedee and Wendel benefitted from the new railroad. In 1913, a town to be named Review  was proposed along the Fernley & Lassen Railroad between Flanigan and Stacy, but it was never developed.

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McCloud River Railroads

The cover of Jeff Moore's epic volume.
The cover of Jeff Moore’s epic volume.

Signature Press has recently released Jeff Moore’s book McCloud River Railroads. All, I can say is, “Wow.” It is an impressive work about logging and railroads, including the little known Pit River Railroad. Of course, the Red River Lumber Company and the Fruit Growers Supply Company influenced operations at McCloud.

The deluxe 368 page hardcover book is available through your favorite local bookstore. Now, excuse me, since I am spending a portion of the Thanksgiving weekend happily reading Moore’s work which he spent a decade to produce.  Thank you Jeff for your hard work in preserving a portion of Northern California’s heritage.

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Railroad, no more

Looking east near the Leavitt Station, November 19, 2006
Looking east near the Leavitt Station, November 19, 2006

This month marks ten years since the last segment rails of the Fernley & Lassen Railroad, between Susanville and Wendel, were removed. The historic event went largely unnoticed. Yet, it was the railroad that had one of the most significant impacts on Lassen County. It was this particular line that created the communities of Litchfield and Westwood. Of course, it brought about the development of the timber industry. Two years prior to this event, the last lumber mill, Sierra Pacific Industries at Susanville shut down for good.

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Lassen County – Viewland

In 1985, the Neversweat Chapter #1863, E Clampus Vitus restored the Viewland monument.
In 1985, the Neversweat Chapter #1863, E Clampus Vitus restored the Viewland monument.

Viewland is the low summit between Mud Flat and the Honey Lake Valley. From this vantage point, emigrants in the 1850s, who had finally traversed the Nevada desert, obtained their first view of the Honey Lake Valley and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad established a station there named Murray, but when the line was broad gauged by the Southern Pacific Railroad it became their Viewland. The siding was important for sheep growers who, after shearing, would haul the wool there to be shipped out by rail.

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Hackstaff – Lassen County

Courtesy of Dorothy Capezzoli
Courtesy of Dorothy Capezzoli

Known today as Herlong, and was the one-time junction of Nevada-California-Oregon (NCO) and Western Pacific (WP) railroads. In 1915, Stanley G. Rayl arrived on the scene. When Rayl petitioned to establish a post office, he proposed the name Rayl—the NCO opposed it. Charles Moran, President of the NCO, wanted the post office named Hackstaff—in honor of his mother-in-law, Clara Hackstaff Adams. After five months, the Postmaster General decided upon the name of Rayl, instead of Hackstaff. This delighted Robert M. Cook, editor and publisher of the Lassen Weekly Mail, Cook wrote: “ The NCO wanted a monument to an uncle of the wife of Moran, the New York capitalist behind the NCO. Hackstaff was never in Lassen County and no one here knows anything about him.” When Rayl left in 1921, he assigned the postmaster duties to Cyrus Helman. Those two men had a disagreement and fought that battle in court. In the end, the Rayl post office closed. On March 18, 1922, the Hackstaff Post Office was established with Helman as postmaster. It did not last long and the post office closed on December 30, 1922. In 1927, Hackstaff’s meager population was wiped out when the WP moved its section crew to Doyle. The location continued to be known as Hackstaff until the Sierra Army Ordinance Depot was established in 1942.

Ticketb
Reverse of the ticket stub.

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