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  • Topic: Another aspect of old time logging

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    • June 21, 2020 10:52 PM EDT
      • Southern Oregon
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      Another aspect of old time logging


      Here is some old time film of running logs down a flume.


      Flumes were pretty common in the Western States back in the heyday of logging, although I think most flumes were used to transport cut lumber rather than saw logs.


      One Flume with which I am very familiar was used by the Terry Lumber Company to transport cut lumber from their sawmill on Round Mountain 27 miles down the hills to the 

      finish mill and box factory at Bella Vista.  Having lived in the area for many years I was aquainted with a number of people that their parents or other older relitives had worked 

      for Terry in the woods, on the railroad, in the mills or as flume tenders.  A flume tender lived along the flume and was responsible for a given distance of it, like 1 mile, and had to patrol it 

      while lumber bundles were floating down.  Checking for hang-ups, major leaks or other damage caused by falling trees etc.  


      One thing I found well documented and would loved to have tried was the flume boat.  The "boat" was a couple of 2X 16-20's ? nailed together in a "V" with a block nailed in each end.

      These "boats" were dumped in the flume, you jumped in and the next stop was the bottom of the hill 27 miles away, that is unless it hung up on something and sent you sailing out of the flume.

      Just hope you weren't crossing one of the high trestles at the time if this happened.


      It was also recorded that the flume was used as an emergency ambulance.  If a logger or mill worker was injured on the mountain they would lay him in a flume boat and send him down the hill.

      Of course they would call ahead to the yard office at the bottom to keep an eye out for the injured man if he showed up.  Can you imagine being busted up, say with a couple of broken legs, being given a pint of whiskey,

      dropped in a flume boat and sent down the flume.  I don't remember off hand the amount of time needed to travel that 27 miles but wow, nothing to do but ride, drink, and hope you made it.


      Of course there was always a run on flume boats on Saturday night as the loggers all tried to get to town as fast as possible, at least that was the sober direction.

      Unlike the loggers of Mich-Cal at Pino Grande that would crawl the cables across that vast canyon after the tram stoppped running for the night, and believe it or not that wasn't the sober direction.


      Just a little Northern California logging history, probably dosen't really interest anybody on here other than me.



    • June 22, 2020 12:25 AM EDT
      • Burbank, CA
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      Hey Rick,

      I love this stuff :)! You can keep posting this all day. Huell Howser did one of his California's Gold episodes on one of these flume operations and interviewed some old timers who had worked them. I believe there is an exhibit along Hwy 99 in the Central Valley with a museum and a great restored section of one of these flumes.

      Thanks again for posting this great logging history in California.

    • June 22, 2020 5:28 AM EDT
      • West Grove, Pennsylvania
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      "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --Martin Luther King Jr

    • June 22, 2020 7:55 PM EDT
      • Maryland, USA
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      Thanks Rick, great topic.


      The V&T had a sister company, the Carson & Tahoe Lumber & Fluming Company, which had mills at the south eastern coast of Lake Tahoe, and a narrow gauge RR that hauled the lumber up to the crest at Spooner Summit. The pic below shows what is likely the Glenbrook, a NG loco that has been restored at the Nev State RR Museum, and replicated by Bachmann. 



      From there, the massive loads of lumber were flumed down to Carson City where they were spilled and stacked, and trained out to to the Virginia City mines and other consumers.



      Somewhere I read that guys sometimes just rode a bundle of boards down the flume...



    • June 22, 2020 9:40 PM EDT
      • Southern Oregon
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      Thanks Cliff,

      I am a little familiar with that company and it's operation, great pictures by the way. 

      Most companies sent cut lumber down a flume in a bundle of boards rather than one board at a time.  They used flume clamps, kind of a squared off "C" shaped piece of iron that would fit over the ends of 5-6 boards and was hammered on tight to each end and the boards were sent down as a bundle.  Now these clamps didn't always hold and one of the jobs of a flume tender was to find the clamps and gather loose boards if he could and bundle them back up.

      My understanding is that; It was a full time job for a couple of horse teams/trucks to haul the clamps back up the mountain for re-use.

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