The Clover Valley Lumber Company
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A Clover Valley logging train hauling near Beckwourth

In 1917, the Clover Valley Lumber Company was formed. Timber harvesting operations had already began in the region as early as 1895, when The Horton Brothers Lumber Company built a mill in Clover Valley, and later on, a second mill west of Beckwourth. The Horton Brothers moved
their mill in Clover Valley to Loyalton in 1902. Three other mills were already in operation in the Loyalton area, including the Lewis Borthers Lumber Company, which had operated in Sardine Valley since 1886; The Roberts Lumber Company, 1890, also in Sardine Valley and Loyalton (1900); and the Marsh Lumber Company, established in 1907. After 1917, the Clover Valley Lumber Company took over timber holdings from both the Marsh (Marsh had since taken over all the holdings of the Horton Brothers) and Roberts Lumber Companies. The Clover Valley Lumber Company became the main lumber company in the region from 1917 through the late 1950's.

In 1919, what had been the Marsh Lumber Mill, caught fire and burned to the ground. The Clover Valley Mill moved to where the Roberts Mill had its operations in Loyalton, taking logs from spurs in Smithneck, Badenaugh Canyon, and Clover Valley. As time went on, many logging camps were set up in Clover Valley, stretching at different points from Dotta's Neck to McReynolds Valley and eastward near Antelope Reservoir. Most of these camps had cabins, a blacksmith shop, a cookhouse, and a water tower.

A Clover Valley Lumber Company train with water tank
in background near the present day Crocker Guard Station
between Beckwourth and Clover Valley)

From about 1924 through 1957, a steam engine locomotive, called "the Four-Spot," performed most of the hauling of prime timber between Clover Valley and Loyalton, sometimes carrying over ten-times its weight in logs. In addition to the steam engine train, a straddle jammer was used at each logging camp to lift the heavy logs onto and off of the train. The straddle jammer worked and looked much like a heavy crane, and it had its own train wheels so it could be pulled along the route between Clover Valley spurs and Loyalton.

Train and load of logs along Mapes Canyon circa 1920

Interestingly, the Clover Valley Railroad ended its logging operations about the same time as the logging operations of the California Fruit Exchange in and around Graeagle. With the versatility and mobility of small and more economical logging trucks being used in transporting logs and lumber products, logging railroads eventually became obsolete. In a matter of thirty years, the logging camps, the train tracks, and all vestiges of logging railroad operations had all but disappear. Today, only raised railway beds remain, elavated furrows of times past, when steam poured from the diamond stacks, and huge pines were hauled down to the mill.


*(Special thanks to J.M. Olsen and his book, "The Camps of Clover Valley")

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