The Honey Lake Tugboat

The boat at Amedee before being launched. Courtesy of Marie H. Gould

1907 was a banner for lumber exports from Lassen County. There were two factors at play. The rebuilding of the San Francisco Bay Area after the 1906 earthquake and a mining bonanza in Nevada created a huge demand for lumber.

E.C. “Ben” Brown saw an opportunity, especially since he had connections with the Nevada mining fraternity. In July 1907, Brown with some associates formed the Lassen Mill & Lumber Company. The company had contracts to supply Nevada mining towns with over a million board feet of lumber. Company entered into contracts with several Honey Lake Valley sawmills. One of the problems encountered was how to get the lumber to Amedee to ship by rail to Nevada. Brown came up with a solution and bought a tugboat from the U.S. Government that the customs department had used on the San Francisco Bay. Locally, he had barge constructed measuring 70 feet long and 24 feet wide and dubbed the “Great Eastern.”  In 1908 after the last of the lumber contracts had been fulfilled Brown kept the boat for recreational purposes.  In 1912, Brown sold the dormant Lassen Mill & Lumber Company to George Wingfield. The boat was included in the sale, along with 1,000 acres of timberland adjoining Wingfield’s summer home. Wingfield used the boat on occasions, and in 1915 it was docked for the last time near Buntingville where the hull remains.

Brown’s tugboat at the Amedee dock. Courtesy of Claude Wemple

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One thought on “The Honey Lake Tugboat”

  1. Very interesting picture of Grandpa Browns boat at Amedee.
    I can’t identify anyone on the boat at the dock. Mom would have been teenager at the time so could have been on the on the boat.
    The other possibility would have been Aunt Ella moms sister?

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