Castle Crag Lumber Companies...

North American Narrow Gauge; West of the Rockies (including Canada; Mexico).
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Randy Hees
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Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 7:07 pm

Castle Crag Lumber Companies...

Post by Randy Hees » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:06 pm

This is a work in progress, posted here due to a question on our Facebook site...

This started as a piece on just Castle Crag Lumber - M. A. Burns but grew to encompass the others who logged on this site...

3' gauge logging railroad, West from the lumber mill located on Castle Creek, just above Castella, at a location identified at Dirego by the Southern Pacific Railroad.

The Castle Crag logging operations had 4 phases, each with a separate owner

• Castle Lake Lumber / Castle Lake Lumber & Box Co. - 1887-1911 (railroad added 1909)
• M. A. Burns - November 1911 - October 1916
• Controlled by Pacific Improvement - Late 1916 - late 1919
• Castle Crag Lumber Co (Frank J Solinsky, Jr.) January 1920 - September 1928
• Mill closed
• Mill and railroad scrapped 1933-1936

The original operations were under the name Castle Lake Lumber / Castle Lake Lumber & Box Co.
There was some logging in area as early as 1887. A logging railroad was added in 1909. The company failed in 1911. (Note: Company (and railroad) are not listed in 1910 Timberman’s Directory)


#1 (?) 2 truck Heisler
Based on eyewitness accounts, not confirmed in known Heisler records, most likely purchased used, as there are no 1909 Heislers unaccounted for, but many earlier. Based on the dates, I suspect the mystery locomotive may be the former Borate & Daggett (Pacific Coast Borax) cn , later Modoc Lumber, Oregon.

Rolling stock consisted of flat cars and logging trucks (Shasta Style, wood frame, with bearing blocks bolted to bottom of wood frame) and one home built caboose (caboose may be product of M A Burns)

M. A. Burns Lumber Co. took over operations at Castle Crag in late 1911. Logging operations and the railroad were expanded, A used 0-6-0 t was purchased in 1912, followed by a new Climax and SC&F connected log cars. A second new Climax was added in 1913. The company incorporated in the summer of 1916.

Operations were abruptly halted on October 5th, 1916, by court order. The court action was brought by the Southern Pacific Railroad for lumber trespass. This was followed later in the month by a demand by the Southern Pacific that he remove his railroad from their land.

Locomotives: (numbers for Climaxes known, for Heisler and 0-6-0 assumed)

No 1 - 2 truck Heisler ex-Castle Lumber and Box, sold prior to 1917 (see note above)

No 2 – 0-6-0t Baldwin 3732, 10x16, 36” drivers
Built new for Ruby Hill Eureka Nevada as “Ruby Hill” 1875, To WSLC “Star”, Home made tender added c. 1901 by WSLC, Our of service at Tuolumne 1906, To M. A. Burns c.1912. To United Commercial (dealer) 1918, To Hawaiian Dredging, Oahu, HI 1924, Scrapped 1946

No 3 – Climax 2 truck, 35 ton, c/n 1167
Built new for M. A. Burns July 1912, To Red River Lumber Co, Round Mt. CA 1919
(this is the former Terry Lumber operation near Redding)

No 4 – Climax 2 truck, 35 ton, c/n 1205
Built new for M. A. Burns, March 1913, To Old Mission Cement (San Juan Bautista)

Rolling stock from Castle Lake Lumber & Box Co. (flat cars and logging trucks and one home built caboose) During summer 1914 Burns added some Seattle Car and Foundry connected log cars

Per 1917 Timberman’s Directory
14 miles track
2 locomotives (geared)
27 logging trucks
6 flat cars
6 donkeys

Note: above at approximately shutdown. I assume the connected log cars are reported with the logging trucks. Two geared locomotives would suggest the two Climaxes are in operation, with Heisler No 1 and the 0-6-0 sold or out of service .

Southern Pacific Control - The property was operated by the Southern Pacific owned Pacific Improvement after 1916 to Oct 1919. During this period some operations continued, by others under leases pending sale of the property and assets. In particular the locomotives were all sold off. It is possible the railroad was not operated during this period.

Castle Crag Lumber Co.
- January 1920 To September 1928
In October 1919, Frank J Solinsky Jr. formed a new company, the Castle Crag Lumber Co. taking possession of the property in January 1920. Operations restarted in spring 1922. Solnsky purchased the locomotives and SC&F log cars from the nearby LaMoine Lumber company.

Forest Fires in 1924 (the 1924 fire started by a donkey engine owned by the company) and 1926, plus IWW union activity and the economic downturn of 1927 lead to the company shutting down at the end of the 1928 season. The railroad was scrapped in 1933 – 1936.


#1 – Climax, c/n 459, 2 truck, 40 ton, purchased new 1903
From LaMoine Lumber & Trading, #1 April 1922, Converted to oil, Derelict after 1928
Scrapped c. 1935-36

#2 – Shay,
From LaMoine Lumber & Trading, #2 April 1922, Converted to oil
Signor says the shay was restricted to "close to the mill" while Roy and Braun suggest it may not have been reassembled, but it is listed in the lists of equipment in the 1925 and 1927 Timberman's directories. Scrapped and boiler used for CCC camp after 1933.

Rolling stock from M. A. Burns, including: flat cars, logging trucks and 1914 SC&F connected cars. In April 1922, 23 to 30 (also reported as 27) connected log cars purchased from LaMoine

Per 1925 Timberman’s Directory
10 miles narrow gauge track
2 locomotives (geared) fuel, oil
32 sets logging cars
3 flat cars
6 donkeys, 1 Washington skidder, 2 high wheels, 1 motor truck, 1 logging tractor

Per 1927 Timberman’s Directory
2 locomotives (geared) fuel, oil
41 flat cars
1 speeder
5 donkeys


Susan Baker & Lawrence Shoup, An Historical and Archaeological Study of the M A Burnes and Castle Crag Lumber Companies, Shasta Trinity National Forest, 1979, Shasta Trinity National Forest (copy at Shasta College library, Redding)

Castle Crag in records of the Pacific Improvement Co. - Stanford University Special Collections,
Guide to the Pacific Improvement Company Records, 1869-1931 (inclusive), 1883-1927 (bulk) JL001

Roy, William, & Braun, Dave, LaMoine Lumber and Trading Co. (published as “Special Issue 28/29) of The Columbia River & Pacific Northwest Timberbeast, Vol. 8, Nos 1 & 2, 1992, Eugene OR) plus additional unpublished notes received from the authors

Signor, John R., Southern Pacific’s Shasta Division (Signature Press, 2000)

Becksrtom & Braun, The Swayne Lumber Co., (Pacific Fast Mail, Edmonds Washington, 1992) (particularly the discussion about the development of the SC&F connected log cars)

Kline, Benjamin, The Heisler Locomotive 1891-1941 (Benjamin Kline, Lancaster PA, 1982)

Koch, Michael, Steam & Thunder in the Timber (World Press, Denver CO, 1979)

Taber and Casler, Climax, an Unusual Locomotive, (Railroadians of America, Rahway NJ 1960)

Thompson, Dunn, and Hauff, The Climax Locomotive (Oso Publishing, Arlington WA 2002)

H.W.Trapnell Narrow Gauge By The Crags, MA Burns Lumber, Castle Crag Lumber (listed by John Barnhill, but not found elsewhere)
Randy Hees

Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City
Railway Preservation News
Chasing old trains where ever I may find them...

Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2009 6:41 pm

Re: Castle Crag Lumber Companies...

Post by elminero67 » Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:01 am

That is good research on an obscure operation.

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