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As It Was: Lumber Mill Builds Crescent City and Smith River Railroad

 

Transporting logs to the mill was challenging in the days when ox teams dragged timber to the nearest stream for floating most of the way to the mills.

After the Hobbs Wall Mill began operations in Crescent City, Calif., in the 1880s, its expansion led to laying rails for a wood-fueled Baldwin locomotive.  As timber was logged off and lumber camps moved further away, the rails extended from Crescent City out to the south bank of the Smith River.  Soon, a daily passenger and freight service opened between the two points and the line became known as the Crescent City and Smith River Railroad. 

The railway and its depots built at each end of the line became popular with people going to Smith River for picnics, fishing and blackberry picking.  A bridge eventually opened the east side of the river to the railway and a lumber camp. 

When all the trees were cut, rail service came to a stop, much to the disappointment of many, including some Crescent City boys who picked blackberries and sent them by rail to sell in town.
 

Sources: Hughes, Ralph L. Tales of Del Norte County. Two ed., Crescent City CA, Del Norte County Historical Society, 2017 (originally published in 1997), pp. 83-84; "California and Oregon Coast Railroad Company: Modern Wooden Axel Railroading in the State of Jefferson.". Wx4 Dome of Foam, edited by E O. Gibson, 2018, wx4.org/to/foam/shortlines/coc/coc.html . Accessed 21 Nov. 2019.

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.