McCloud Customers
Pondosa Mill

Harry Horr, who had several ranches and other businesses in the Fall River Valley, built a sawmill in the north end of Cayton Valley primarily to supply lumber to Pacific Gas & Electric's Pit River Project. When the utility suspended that project in 1929 and closed down the Pit River Railroad, Horr decided to move his mill to Pondosa. Horr leased ground for his sawmill site adjacent to the McCloud River Lumber Company camp, and opened his mill by the following year.

The Horr mill enjoyed fourteen years of successful operations through the Depression and the war, shipping lumber out over the railroad in addition to providing ties to the McCloud companies. On 1 January 1945, a wind shift blew sparks from the mill's open burn pile in which it disposed of sawdust back into the mill buildings, destroying the mill, ten lengths of rail, 180 ties, and Missouri-Kansas-Texas boxcar #13244. The fire finished the Horr company.

The mill site did not stay vacant long, as by 1947 the Ben Cheney Lumber Company assumed the lease and built a new mill. Ben Cheney launched his lumber company in 1936 in Tacoma, Washington, to cut railroad ties, but he quickly converted waste products from the tie making process into the eight foot construction stud that defined the standard room height for almost all new housing construction from that point forward. Cheney added the Pondosa mill to his collection of nine other stud mills scattered from western Washington through Oregon and northern California. The Pondosa mill became locally known as the Cheney-Grant Mill, and it remained an important customer of the McCloud River Railroad.

Ben Cheney died in 1971, and in 1974 his successors sold his remaining mills, including Pondosa, to Louisiana-Pacific Corporation. L-P ran the plant until 1977, when a fire of suspicious origin destroyed much of the plant. There would be one more revival, in 1979, when West Brook Wood Products leased the property and brought in a truck mounted peeler core mill. West Brook shipped a few carloads of woodchips and lasted barely a year before it too closed, forever ending commercial shipments to or from Pondosa.


An overview of the Horr Mill. Dennis Sullivan collection.

Several varieties of early log trucks waiting their turn to unload their logs into the Horr pond. Dennis Sullivan collection.

A tree fell into this house the Horr Family occupied in Pondosa. Dennis Sullivan collection.

The Ben Cheney Lumber Company mill as it appeared in 1950. Jeff Moore collection.

The abandoned mill as it appeared about 2004. Jeff Moore photograph.

An old woodchip loader in Pondosa. Pat Driscoll photo, Jeff Moore collection.