McCloud Customers
Elkins Cedar Mill

The McCloud woods contained significant quantities of Incense Cedar. While not a true cedar species, the tree still provided some useable products, though the overall weakness of the wood did not produce suitable dimensional lumber. Predominate uses of cedar included fencing, shingles, and pencil stock.

The McCloud River Lumber Company did not harvest cedar during its operations, but allowed other companies to come in behind it to get the cedar. William Merritt Elkins was the most predominate of these, and sometime during the 1910s he commenced harvesting cedar logs and shipping them out to the Hudson Lumber Company of San Leandro, California, one of the forerunners of P&M Cedar Products that later owned the Mount Shasta and McCloud sawmills. In 1926, Elkins built the first of a series of small sawmills that allowed him to start shipping boards instead of raw logs. One source indicates the sequence of mills as existing at Spur 9 (later named Swobe), followed by Esperanze and Bartle, while another source placed the mills as being at Esperanza, Bartle, and then Swobe.

Regardless of the earlier operations, in 1934 Elkins moved his mill, by now known as Elkins Cedar Mill, east to Hambone, where he built a modest sized mill and a camp south of the former site of the McCloud River Lumber Company camp. The Elkins employees, especially when combined with the Great Northern and McCloud River Railroad staff also present in the camp, warranted the Skiskiyou County School District to establish a school in Hambone, initially located inside a former Southern Pacific passenger coach and then in a more suitable building in the Elkins camp. Elkins operated the mill successfully using trucks to bring logs into the mill and shipping his output over the railroad until 1942, when the cedar ran out. Elkins sold the mill in 1942, but the new owner only survived until a fire destroyed the mill in 1944.

Wally Trapnell, who owned the old Elkins Sawmill site until his passing in 2017, sent me these photos of the Elkins camp and sawmill, all taken after operations had ceased.


The sawdust piles and lumber drying racks in Hambone. Before it burned, the mill once stood to the right of the sawdust pile.

The house the Elkins family occupied in the camp.

A water tank in the middle of the Elkins camp.

Camp buildings in the old Elkins community.

Family housing in the Elkins Camp.

Cabins for the single men employed in the Elkins operations.

Ira Wood, who purchased the Elkins mill and camp site after the sawmill burned, is seen here standing in the doorway of one of the structures.