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County's lumber presented an opportunity for new mill

Caleb Hobbs and David Pomeroy of the San Francisco firm Hobbs, Gilmore & Co. established the Hobb, Gilmore sawmill and box factory in Crescent City after the Civil War. They opened their store in 1873 at Second and J streets. (Photo courtesy of Del Norte Historical Society).
Caleb Hobbs and David Pomeroy of the San Francisco firm Hobbs, Gilmore & Co. established the Hobb, Gilmore sawmill and box factory in Crescent City after the Civil War. They opened their store in 1873 at Second and J streets. (Photo courtesy of Del Norte Historical Society).

By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

Shipments of Del Norte County's lumber via Crescent City Mill & Transportation Co. following the Civil War quickly caught the attention of a San Francisco company, Hobbs, Gilmore & Co.

The company sent Caleb Hobbs and David Pomeroy to visit. Impressed with the business opportunity, they incorporated in as Hobbs, Pomeroy & Co, and built a two-story mill and box factory on Elk Creek.

The five-feet deep creek was the mode of transport for logs coming three miles from the woods upstream, but only logs not larger in diameter than nine feet. The larger logs were first split, then floated down.

From the stream they were hauled into the mill and handed over to the sawyer, who used triple circular saws and other equipment.

The mill's capacity was 45,000-50,000 board feet per day in 1880. That figure translated to six million feet per year.

At the same time, the box factory worked 1.25 million feet of lumber into boxes. Most of its product were bread and sugar boxes, but with boxes made for the San Francisco packing house Cutting & Co.

The facility employed a total of 100 people, paying them from $20-$75 per month, and board.

Hobbs, Wall & Co. did business on such a scale that it rated the first railroad spur's being built in Del Norte County, one that ran from the Elk Valley Mill to Crescent City Wharf. It also owned 1,600 acres of timberland.

Its name derived from the death of David Pomeroy, who drowned in 1879 when the Mary D. Pomeroy foundered with all hands between Crescent City and San Francisco. Not only were all aboard lost, also dumped into the sea was a cargo of lumber.

After the accident, J.G. Wall took Pomeroy's place and the Hobbs, Wall & Co. name was used.

Although Crescent City Mill & Transportation, and Hobbs, Wall & Co. were the biggies, they were not the only companies.

During the late 1860s and early 1870s Anthony and Thomas Van Pelt ran a small steam sawmill near Pebble Beach, employing four people.

Smith River Mill was operated by Robert Foster in 1870 and used waterpower. A dozen employees, Foster included, worked there.

A mill also operated at Growler Gulch in 1880. Owned by Big Flat Gold Mining Co. and using water power.

More Online

•Read past articles in this series about Del Norte County's history at www.triplicate.com. Click "150 Years" in the left rail.

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