[Russell Towle's journal]
File name: rendermap.jpg
File date: June 14, 2000
|BVB = Big Valley Bluff; SPF = Sugar Pine Flat.; BGC = Big Granite Canyon; NYC = New York Canyon;|
SM = Sailor Meadow; WC = Wildat Canyon; DC = Duncan Canyon; DP = Duncan Peak; LBM = ?
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 15:22:02 -0800
From: Russell Towle
Good news, the Planning Commission voted 5-2 to uphold the appeal, and deny permission to build a house above Iron Point! Thanks so much to all of you who wrote.
Several people spoke on behalf of the appeal. As the appellant, I was allowed to ramble on and on about the great North Fork, and sat down possessed with all I should have said, but didn't. Then Bill Newsom stepped forward to charm the Commission with his deft humor, and urge protection of the scenic qualities in the canyon. Tim Woodall made a very effective presentation upon the legal issues bearing upon the Minor Use Permit. Marilyn Jasper and Sharon Cavallo spoke well on behalf of the great canyon. And Stephanie Austin-Goodman brought the meeting to a temporary halt by offering to buy the 48 acres from the applicant, Linda Carruthers, while Jim Forman, Commission chairperson, tried to quell her with arms waving. Such an offer was apparently well outside the scope of what the Commission wished to hear.
It is unknown whether Ms. Carruthers will appeal this decision. If she does, the matter will be heard before the Board of Supervisors (I think).
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 20:41:30 -0800
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Iron Point parcel
[...] if anyone wants to see what an SPI clearcut looks like in real life, Iron Point has a nice view of some a few miles east, up on Sawtooth Ridge. They are about two years old. SPI owns quite a few sections up in that area. These clearcuts can be reached by driving in to Helester Point (from Emigrant Gap) and walking a half mile west.
If anyone else has the sense that TNF may be drastically underestimating the amount of SPI lands (and other lands) it should attempt to purchase, well, maybe we can do something about it. So far as trails go, the China Trail at Lost Camp originates on SPI lands, I believe. I am planning to hike the China Trail down to the North Fork of the North Fork with several people on the weekend of the 23-24. Any of you are welcome. I will provide details when they are known.
More and More Lost Locomotives
[North Fork Trails blogpost, June 14, 2007:
There we would find the old riveted steam engine boiler, twenty feet long and four feet in diameter. I had conjectured that this might be the source of the "Legend of the Lost Locomotive," the abandoned narrow-gauge logging engine supposedly hidden away in that remote, many-ravined East Fork Country.
The East Fork of the North Fork of the North Fork of the American River might better be named Azalea Canyon, for the Western Azalea, a species of rhododendron, is in full bloom along the banks of the creek, the large and graceful white flowers sweetly scenting the air. This shrub seems especially common there.
All went as planned and Ron much admired the admirable old rock walls along the Canal, and the fine view of the Monuments, below, on Monumental Creek.
We reached the "take," and the putative Lost Locomotive. Ron has a keen eye. I had examined every exposed surface for some kind of maker's mark, but I found nothing. Ron immediately saw some tiny letters on two of the riveted iron plates forming the giant cylinder; one set of letters was legible, and read "CH#1," the other, longer set of letters seemed to spell "LOCHAIR" but was very faint, and may have had one letter preceding the "L."
Later, from the internet, Ron learned that "CH#1" means "charcoal hammered number one grade." This was a specialty rolled iron used for boilers.
We paused for lunch at the Lost Locomotive (which may well have been some kind of stationary steam engine, and in any case has no running gear or cab), and discussed its position, really right down in the bed of the Azalea Canyon, inches from the water. On the one hand, it might have rolled down the canyon wall: there was some denting to the cylinder. On the other hand, it might have been carried down Azalea Canyon from somewhere above, in a flood event, such as occurred in January of 1997. There are scratches running lengthwise on the cylinder.
Ron felt that, had the tons of metal been carried down the river, it would show more and deeper scratches. I on the other hand, who started by insisting it must have rolled down from some point above, now began to think that it must have been washed down Azalea Canyon to its current position.
We found a number of pieces of strap iron in and around the creek, which seemed to have nothing to do with our lonely Lost Locomotive, and I speculated that they may have been used to tie together the logs of the vanished diversion dam.
I was wrong, however, as will soon be made clear.
After lunch, we climbed to a century-old narrow-gauge logging railroad grade less than a hundred feet above the Bradley & Gardner, and followed it up the canyon, through occasional patches of thick brush. This old railroad grade bade fair to continue up Azalea Canyon for miles. However, in half a mile it turned into a side canyon and seemed to end altogether.
We could see a strange area of raw dirt across Azalea Canyon, and in the course of scouting the forested slopes in our ravine for any sign of our railroad grade's continuation, we drew nearer, and saw that near the area of raw dirt, some cliffs fell steeply to the river. So we made our way back to the river's edge, and saw immediately that a road descended to the river from the Texas Hill side, ending in a huge turn-around and log deck. A very high bank had been left by the big bench cut. So, there was our raw dirt.
Immediately upstream were the cliffs, and we entered a fascinating little gorge within Azalea Canyon, Shoo Fly Complex metasediments carved into pools and rapids. Smooth and rounded rocks along the stream gave way to ragged cliffs of slate rising hundreds of feet above. It was easy going, with the water so low, to ascend the gorge, and shortly we entered a more typical part of the canyon, with White Alders along the banks, and many boulders of glacial outwash and glacial till in the stream.
We rested. The day was quite warm and the shade was welcome. Looking at our maps, we saw that a certain road descended to the river from the north, only a little ways upstream. Ron began wandering up the creek, and soon a shout brought me scampering along after him. He stood triumphantly over a train wheel, which must have weighed hundreds of pounds, lying beside the creek on a bedrock outcrop. Now we must be within an ace of the road-from-the-north, so we forged on up the stream, finding more strap iron, and then, some narrow-gauge railroad track, and then ...
Walking down the old railroad grade towards the flat with the mining claim sign, we saw some more old metal at the edge of the large springy area, much obscured by alder trees, and walking over, found a second boiler, like the first, about twenty feet long and four feet in diameter. This boiler had various appurtenances bolted on which were missing from the Bradley & Gardner boiler. Nearby were what appeared to be long sections of riveted light sheet iron smokestacks.
We interpreted this second boiler to be a stationary engine used at the base of a steep, tracked, "incline," although in retrospect I suppose it may have powered a sawmill. But we saw no sawdust pile, no artifacts which could only have derived from a mill.
Seeing all this antique logging gear, scarcely half a mile above the Bradley & Gardner boiler, led me to conclude that it had indeed been carried down the river in a flood event.
After exploring the area fairly thoroughly, we debated whether to follow the road-from-the-north up to where the top of the incline must have been, on the ridge dividing Azalea and Monumental canyons, but decided instead to follow back down the East Fork and look for the base of the Texas Hill Incline.
This historic incline connected the East Fork (Azalea Canyon) to the summit of Texas Hill, and thus to the Towle Brothers Lumber Company's "Burnett Canyon" mill, of the 1890s.
On our way back down Azalea Canyon, we saw more and more old strap iron, and soon enough found long pieces, some still nailed to wooden rails. This was a relatively primitive way of moving logs around; instead of laying "real" railroad track, which is expensive, one used wooden beams or logs for rails, and nailed strap iron on top. Then flat-cars, or log-cars, of some kind, could be rolled down these tracks, using oxen or even mules for motive force. It looks very much as if one of the primitive strap-iron railroads followed right down Azalea Canyon, sometimes directly beside the stream itself, sometimes fifty feet above it. We saw hundreds of feet of strap iron before we reached the Bradley & Gardner.
From the Canal, a few yards west of the "take," we followed an old railroad grade down to the stream, and immediately struck a continuation of the strap-iron railroad. As we followed downstream, crossing from side to side to take advantage of forested flat terraces of glacial outwash, so did the strap iron cross back and forth.
Eventually we reached the near vicinity of the Texas Hill Incline, but frustratingly, could not see it. Trees over a hundred feet high have grown up since then.
Proceeding downstream, a much more substantial narrow-gauge railroad grade replaced our fragile strap-iron line, and this led to a crossing of Azalea Canyon exactly at the confluence of Monumental Creek. From there it was a short but not all that easy scramble back up to Road 45-2 and Ron's truck.
Before returning to the freeway and Civilization, we drove up Texas Hill Road past the spring of that name, and found the upper section of the Incline. However, we could not see all the way down into Azalea Canyon. The exact course of the Incline as it nears the stream will be found on some other trip.
Such was a very interesting day in the East Fork Country.