The Sandy Gulch Mill
The newest and last of the American Box Company mIlls (American Forest Products Corp) in Calaveras County, was the Associated Lumber and Box Company mill at Sandy Gulch. A new community was built to serve the mill workers and their families. Houses consisting of 4 rooms were built around a central area. This community was named Wilseyville in honor of Lawrence Wilsey, General Manager of the three Calaveras County Mills. These houses complete with water, electricity, and sewer rented for $25 per month. The mill was regarded as very well designed and modern. An example of the careful planning was that the mill pond was only eight inches below the mill level, so logs didn’t have to be lifted far in order to get them into the mill
Ground was broken for the mill site in December 1942, and mill construction started in April of 1943. Stockton Box handled the logging and transportation to this mill as well as their own. John Parmeter was the woods boss and J.D. conger the yard boss. Howard Blagen was the resident manager of the mill.
The mill featured these mechanical features and attributes, at least when it opened.
The mill is all electric
9 foot Allis Chalmers Band Mill
All steel carriage with Trout Set Forks and Martin Air Dogs
14 inch Shot Gun Feed
Hill Nigger and Log Kicker
84 inch Mershon Vertical Resaw with Merrry-Go-Round
72 inch edger
4 boilers- 2 for mill operation and 2 for dry kilns to be installed later (editors note: I don’t know if the kilns were added or not)
Operating crew- 125 men working 2 shifts
Boilers fueled by sawdust and hog fuel
Approx. cut per shift, 100,000
Height of stacks – 130 feet
2 acre pond holding 1 million cubic feet of water
Average haul of lumber- 9 miles
An operational method, new at least to Central California, was that the lumber was handled by the “unit package” system. This eliminated the old style square piles. Lumber was handled by lift trucks and carriers entirely. Solid packages were taken from the green chain to the automatic stacker where they were “sticked” for drying. After drying, these packages were put thru the unstacker where the stickers were taken out and the piles made ready for shipment.
Associated Lumber and Box Mill at Sandy Gulch mid 1940’s (Click to enlarge)
Associated Lumber and Box Mill Sandy Gulch April 1944 (Click to enlarge)
Employee home at Wilseyville (Area near Sandy Gulch where employee homes were built) (Click to enlarge)