CLOVIS -- Yearly since 1854, there
have been sawmills in the mountains of Fresno County cutting the timber with which
nature clothed the western slope of the Sierras.
Still there are vast tracts of pine and fir which have
yet scarcely heard the sound of the woodsman's ax. It would be too much to say
that during the forty years past, there have been no serious inroads made upon
the lumber supply tributary to this part of the Valley.
greater portion of the more convenient forests have been entered and some of them
have been exhausted. But vast quantities remain. For years to come there will
be a supply at hand for domestic use and for a large export trade.
The houses and the fences of this part of the Valley
have been made of material drawn from the mountains and there remains in the forests
enough to duplicate again and again all these improvements.
There are two flumes in Fresno County and one in Madera
which tap the timber regions of the Sierras. The Madera flume is the oldest of
them, and for many years an average of many millions of feet of lumber have been
sent doen from the mills, finding sales in all portins of the open Valley, and
no small quantity being sent beyond the central portion of the State.
The Sanger flume was the next one built. In length it
is 54 miles, tapping the pine and sequoia belt on the south side of the Kings
River. At the head of the flume are mills which saw the logs into convenient planks
and pieces of timber and these are shipped down the flume to Sanger, where they
are manufactured into all kinds of commercial stuff, shingles, rustic, sash, doors,
flooring, boxes, raisin trays, bridge timbers, fence posts, pickets and, in short,
everything which the market calls for.
Of late the supplying of lead pencil material for European
factories has been undertaken, and the experiment up to this time has proven successful.
The Sequoia is a wood which is suited for this use, being soft, fine-grained and
remarkable free from checks and flaws.
The supply of cedar is running short in those parts of
the world from which it was formerly drawn, an since sequoia is found to be an
excellent substitute, there seems to be nothing in the way of building up a trade
in lead pencil material in which Fresno County will be made the base of supply
for years to come.
The sequoia is the largest tree in the world, some of
them in Fresno and adjoining counties being famous as giants of the forest. Up
to the time of the Sanger flume there was little of this timber within reach of
the commercial world and its merits were but little known.
The Pine Ridge flume has been but recently completed.
It is of about the same length as the Sanger Flume, and taps a country of unsurpassed
timber lying on Pine Ridge and the neighboring mountains, covering an area of
more than 100 square miles.
Estimates have placed this body of timber at considerable
more than 1,000,000,000 feet. The flume now extends to the Stephenson Creek, where
a reservoir of more than fifty acres furnishes a water supply not only to float
the timber to market, but also for purposes of irrigation, for the flume is built
It has a capacity of 300 cubic feet of water per second
for the first twelve miles of its course,and then discharges the most of the water
into the basin of Dry Creek, while the smaller flume carrying the lumber is continued
to the plains and has its terminus at the town of Clovis, where a fine mill with
all modern appliances has been built.
[Editor's Note: Archives of
the Fresno Republican Newspaper
are available on microfilm media, Third Floor at the Henry C. Madden Library,
Fresno State University and in the Fresno County Library, Main Branch, California
History Collection in downtown Fresno.]