The Bell with a Connection

If you read the parent (one notch up in the hierarchy) of this page, you will know that the cable at Pino Grande dropped lumber-loaded rail cars from the north side of the American River to the south side of the American River, a horizontal distance of 2814 feet. The bottom of the sagging cable was 1200 feet above the river. The mill up on the north bank of the river sawed logs that were brought into the mill by rail. There was a going-no-where-else railroad up on that site that delivered the logs from the woods to the mill.

The lumber cut there was loaded on to flat cars, the loaded cars were put on a trolley device which descended by cable to the rail facility on the south bank. The cars were then taken by another section of rail to the mill in Camino.

The Logging Museum has been given a bell off  Shay Locomotive Number 8 (or the “Eight Spot”, as it was known in the woods. The Eight Spot delivered logs from the woods to the mill. It was purchased new by the Eldorado Lumber Company, the predecessor of Michigan California Lumber Company. It was used in the woods and at the Pino Grande sawmill continuously from 1906 to 1950 when the logging railroad was scrapped.

The bell was given to Swift Berry, the General Manager, at the time, of the Michigan California Lumber Company. The grandson of Swift Berry, Mr. Philip Berry inherited the bell, and when he found out that the Logging Museum’s Shay Number 4 had come with a non-Shay bell, he donated Eight Spot’s bell to be used on Number 4.

Phil Berry and Shay Bell035

The Sierra Nevada Logging Museum is delighted to receive, and grateful to Mr. Berry for the gift of the bell and also money for repairing the broken handle of the bell. Because the bell is so interrelated to the history of his family, giving us the bell was a truly remarkable gesture.

The information, and also many of the words and details, came from notes given to us by Mr. Berry, edited by your webmaster.

Mr. Phillip Berry’s grandfather, Swift Berry, had a very interesting life, involving his training at the Biltmore School of Forestry, his career prior to becoming General Manager of the Michigan California Lumber Company, and his  long career there in Eldorado County. Hopefully before too long, we’ll get his biography up on our web site.


  1. I spent many summers in the logging camps of MCL Co. My father was timekeeprer there in 1928-1929 and 1933-1945+/-. I worked summers from 1935-1941 on the steel gang, section gang, bridge crew, landing, choker setting, linbing, brakeman and fireman.

    I knew Jack and Bill very well, they were both the ring-leaders of camp fun. I also knew Swift and Florence pretty well. And I have the recollection of visiting a women in Palo Alto whom I believe was Swift’s first wife.

    Jack was Forrester for the Company in the middle ’30’s, then Bill took over that job. Bill married Barbara (Bingo) Bingaman, and little Phil delighted the camp. See photos of them on my web site – George’s Tales of the Woods.

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