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As It Was: Gold Mining Gives Rise to Timber Industry

Timber was essential during the early mining era in Northern California for construction of the flumes that carried water to the gold claims.  The first sawmills were built in 1852 in Siskiyou County and by 1860 thirty of them were producing 3.5 million board feet of lumber a year.

In 1881, early historian Harry L. Wells wrote, “At Scott Bar there is enough timber (in the mines) under the ground to construct a number of towns like the one on top.”

Abner Weed opened one of the most important lumber mills near Sisson, the site of the present-day Mount Shasta City.  Weed also built 23 miles of the California & Northeastern Railroad, which he sold to the Southern Pacific Company.

The Siskiyou Mines Company on the Klamath River purchased more than 1,000 acres of land between Thompson Creek and Happy Camp.  In order to mine it, the company built a flume capable of carrying water from Thompson Creek.  A sawmill on the creek processed 12,000 board feet of lumber a day.

Sources: Wells, Harry L. History of Siskiyou County, California. Oakland, D. J. Stewart & Co, 1881, p. 193.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.