The Move to White Pines (1938)
The Dolley family has been in Calaveras Country since 1938, when they moved with the mill from Sierra County to White Pines. Louise Dolley has captured the story of the move and the creation of a new community from a close-up, personal vantage point. You will read her story of successes and setbacks with a warm smile.
Museum notes: Louise Dolley began writing this story in 1979 and finished it in 1984. Louise typed her story on a manual typewriter and numbered each page. In the digitized version below, her original page numbers are shown as [Page 2]. A few blanks exist in the text where Louise’s original was illegible or cut off by a past round of copying. They are shown as (____).
In the manual typewriter era, documents were hard to change and small errors were often left uncorrected to avoid retyping entire pages; we have taken the liberty of fixing some of the small errors and gently rearranging some sequences of events for easier reading. Regardless of the editing, the story remains true to Louise’s voice and writing style.
Finally, Louise refers to local stores and shops by names that today’s readers may not recognize; in the future, we will try to map out the locations of the places mentioned in her story.
The Move to White Pines
By Louise Dolley
This is the story of our move from Sierraville to White Pines in April of 1939. The move was made because the mill at Calpine had run out of timber and this area [White Pines] was chosen by Frank Blagen for the new mill town. The name was chosen by his wife.
The move was started after the summer work was done in 1938. From Calpine, the mill was dismantled and hauled down on Doc’s trucks, piece by piece. The trucks brought the machinery down the Feather River canyon to Marysville, then to Sacramento, Lodi, up through San Andreas and Angels Camp to Arnold, and down the Dunbar Road to the mill site. Dunbar Road was the only way into White Pines then, and that was only passable by the trucks being towed by a Cat as the spring wore on. There were some mishaps at times along the way, when trucks had an extra high load. Coming through some places they took down overhead wires, etc. As the loads arrived here, the work of building the mill was taking place.
Brown, my husband, had come down in February to work and find us a place to live. The housing was pretty scarce. There were a few cabins and houses but they were mostly taken. The Arnolds had cabins to rent, but the rent went up to $25 a month from $12.50. Supply and demand. The one Brown had been living in had plenty of airspace and, to keep warm, he also built a fire in the oven as well as the stove. He decided there had to be a better way. But he got the flu and had to come home [to Sierraville]. Then a big snowstorm hit, and we were delayed until April.
When Brown came home from White Pines to move us, he came through Marysville and saw some small trailers. He thought that was the way to beat the cabin rental. When we came down the Feather River Canyon on our move, we (including Patty and Mimmie, the dog) spent one night at Sloat to see my mother, who was working there. We stopped to look at the trailers, and decided to get one for $300.00. It was 16 feet long and all built-ins: a sink, closet, place for a three-burner gas stove (bottled), and ice box. The table made into a bed for Patty; our bed was across the back. There was room to store things, only it was made out of Celatex and it had a tendency to sweat, and with [Page 2] all the rain it was damp a good bit of the time, and the clothes in the closet were damp, too. It did get a little close quarters at times, but it sure did serve the purpose.
We stayed at Auburn at Brown’s folks ‘til we got the trailer all ready to go with all our worldly possessions and food, clothes, dishes, pot, pans, etc. stowed away and ready to go to the new adventure. Brown had a Model A Ford pickup, a 35 Plymouth coupe, and the trailer. We were ready. The first thing that happened, coming down the main street of Auburn, the trailer hitch came undone and the trailer hit the back of the Ford and broke the front window, so we had to go back to the house and get the window replaced. We started out again, down through Sacramento to Lodi, and up to Murphys. Brown had such a load with the extra weight that when he hit a high spot in the road, the front end of the Ford would raise up off the ground, so, needless to say, it was a rather unusual experience for him. Patty and I came along behind in the car, a full load, too.
Having been used to the flat straight roads of Sierra Valley, needless to say, when we started up the Grade road to Murphys (on the old narrow one) I was wondering what was coming next. And when we started up the hill I knew we were going to the end of the world. That old road was so crooked and narrow, a new thing for me, that I was sure glad to see the town of Arnold, even if there was a lot of snow on the ground, and so many trees, so close.
We could not get our trailer down into camp, so we were parked in back of the cabins by a small spring under the big cedar tree. There were log houses up on the hill across the road. George and Aleta Small lived in one, and Joe Land had one further up the road.
Wildy and Herma Small, Bill, and Joe, a baby, were the first ones here [in White Pines], living in the log house that is now the Card Shop. The bigger house was where the Hazelton family lived; they had gas pumps out on the highway that were there ‘til the new road was built. There were two other places. One is now the beauty shop and the other is the little cabin in back, where Dillie Mae and Ray Hollingsworth lived ‘til the company house was built.
The Ebbetts Pass Inn, now the Whiskey River Inn, was smaller, and was owned by Bob and Bernie Arnold, who the town was named for. A bar and restaurant and post office, all in one, plus the few houses and cabins was the total of Arnold. The Inn also carried bread and milk after we came for a while. It was later sold to Vic and Faye Perrino who built some cabins out to the back.
There were two log cabins down behind the Inn. Floyd, June and Vonnie Butterfield lived in one, she having been raised by the Arnolds. They had lost their only son to drowning in the Manuel mill pond, the summer before. The other cabin Fred and Marge Small were living in. They had a screened porch where we put our motorized washing machine (our only household possession) and we would do our weekly wash together by carrying the water from the outside pipe, and heating it on her wood stove. We were really first class.
Doc had camp set up, the cook house and the cabins, for the fellows to stay in, in part of that area that’s still there by the lake. The road went down through camp, around in back to where houses started, along the creek and finally up along the old road. It was always just called Camp.
Brown was driving dozer, and getting places leveled off, ready for all the pieces of equipment that were due. Also they were laying out the main road from the highway, the present Blagen Road.
There was quite a bit of rain that first Frog Jump, it just poured. At that time they were just starting to get Frog Town together, and it was rather muddy. We did not go then or ever afterward to this day. My brother Bud came to see us. He was over near Placerville working then, as jobs were hard to get.
About the first of June the road finally dried out enough that we could get our trailer down to Camp, and set it up under a big tree, near a water stand pipe, and outhouse (not the men’s) of the nearby cabins where we stayed ‘til our house was ready to move into in October. Brown used the men’s shower and I used the cook’s or the washtub as did Patty. I had the washing machine setting under the tree and heated water on the stove in the trailer.
The house lots had been laid out and it was up to each one to go round and pick out which one you wanted. There only being a few level ones, they were spoken for at once by the three Smalls and the Blatchleys. It was hard to visualize what it would look like, as there were no streets laid out – just stakes for lots and roads, and it was a new experience for all of us.
The lots cost $200.00 and we were to get free water and electricity from the mill. But when the houses were being built, the work was all done with the hand saws and lots of ‘hoping this was right’ as the building contractors were not around, just a few carpenters.
Brown’s Dad came over from Auburn and helped put in the foundation for our house. We had picked a lot without any trees to get rid of. Then we hired two carpenters to put up the frame and the roof for $165.00. Brown did all of the finishing work himself, after work and weekends, which was running into the fall, and we needed to get in. We had the kitchen, bathroom and one bedroom finished so in I moved one day. The bathroom water pipes were not all together, nor the toilet hooked up. Brown had to work well into the night. Needless to say, he was a little provoked at me.
It was a busy place as the houses were all in various stages of construction, so every eve we all had to look and ask about this and that, and get an idea here and there. We ate Thanksgiving dinner in the dining room as it was finished. Then Brown worked on the living room, then front bedroom.
[Page 3] The mill crew had set up along Big Tree Creek on both sides with very neat rows of tents on frames with skids to be moved later. When school was out [for the summer] and the mill people came [from Calpine], the neat rows turned into a mass of tents every which way. It was a whole new thing for most of those people, and to top it off, there was a heavy rain and the creek rose and flowed through some of the tents. Plus, the tents leaked. A very unpleasant time was had by all.
As the fall approached, many of the people did not have a house to move into, so they boarded up the sides and put a roof over their tent and had it pulled up past camp and set up, where many remained until the end of time. Some were added onto as the family grew, and they were bought and sold as the need came up. Some were modernized and were Home for years. When the mill closed, they had to be left. Many people felt they were entitled to some sort of compensation for the house, but that area had always been mill-site and was never meant to be sold or built on. Nor did they pay taxes on their houses, only personal taxes, later.
Brown had the job of tearing those places down after the mill closed and everyone had gone, and it was quite a job, they all having been well built with lots of nails, plus all the additions, and some were very dirty and some were worse. Stan Land and Ace Giles helped. It took them about a summer and most of the winter.
Due to a lot of mismanagement and other problems, Blagen lost the mill. It was taken over finally by the Stockton Box Co. of Stockton, and then it was down for a short time. [Because the mill provided our electricity] a lot of people had bought refrigerators from Montgomery Wards, and they had been delivered, so there they sat in all their splendor and not doing anything [when the electricity from the mill shut down]. We did get them cold before the juice went off, so until the PG&E got their lines in, we were in the dark again.
A footnote: Doc cut the house plans out of a magazine and gave it to Brown for our house. The only change we made was to turn the roof around so the snow would slide off the sides instead of over the doors. We had absolutely no idea of such things, as we had only been married less than two years, and had rented our house in Sierraville. Most all the materials for the house came from Sacramento, being cheaper than getting it from the company.
That summer we had to go to Angels for all our needs. Driving up and down that narrow crooked road with the lumber trucks on it was hard to get used to, but no one ever fell off the side. A Mr. and Mrs. Ebby had a meat market in Murphys. She came up three times a week to take our orders and delivered it. Later Dave Coppello and his mother, who had the Red and White store midway between Angels and Altaville, also came for groceries. Later they built the first grocery store, which went through many hands (Kovacs, Hartmans, Kingsbury’s, Quadrottos) before it was closed. Then it was a variety store, a health spa, and now a clothing store plus a wood stove sales room.
The nearest doctor was in Angels. The hospital was in Sonora over the old narrow, crooked Melones or Parrots Ferry road. That was an all day trip to go there, as it took an hour just to go to Angels, then, too. During the year, also, a Dr. and Mrs. Thompson from Stockton opened an office and hospital in Murphys at the corner. They had three beds and were very busy. That was where George was born. The Mark Twain hospital in San Andreas did not open until the early 50’s.
Where the Texaco station is now, the Turner brothers from Sattley first built a station. It was Signal gas. The Warrens took it from them and built a house and cabins across the street, which went through many hands, too. The remaining house, After the Gold Rush, was the main house.
The first new business to be built after we came, or just before the war started, was Andy Jordan’s butcher shop, with living quarters in the back where he lived during the week, he being Glenn Jordan’s dad. He was a life saver to us during the war when meat was rationed. That place went through many hands, too. That seemed to be the way: new people tried new ideas – some worked and some did not.
[Page 4] The Mosbaugh’s took over the Signal gas station and have had it since, with Howard and Harold taking over from their dad. The small office they had was used for a voting place for many years, ‘til it was moved to the old school, now Independence Hall.
The old Avery School was at Avery and was a one-room summer school, having vacations in the winter due to the snow. All eight grades were together, with Miss Hazel Fischer, the teacher and principal. To handle all the kids, the dining room of the Avery hotel was made into a classrooom. My daughter, Patty, started there in 1940, first grade, there being no such thing as kindergarten back then. Miss Wilma Avery, a niece of Miss Fischer, was the teacher of the first four grades. The old school in Avery is still there and is now in the process of being restored.
With the big influx of kids, the new school house was started at White Pines, one large room with a folding wall that divided it into two areas, and it was finished for the Christmas program in 1940, and then when vacation was over in January, they started classes in it. There were four grades in each room. The high school kids went to Bret Harte.
As time went on and new people came, a second room was added to the school, then a third and a fourth, then portables, five of them, until there was no more room and a newer school was built in the early ‘70s, [which was named for Hazel Fischer]. It wasn’t long before it too was too small.
Miss Fischer was an institution herself. She mothered all the kids like a mother hen. She almost lived at the school. She did live at the Avery hotel, having the same room there for years. She devoted her life to the kids and school, oft times taking her own money to do for some kids. When she had to retire, the school was named for her: The Hazel Fischer School. The older school house now being the Independence Hall, it is busy all the time and too small for most functions.
Our kids could go to Bret Harte High school ‘til 1962 as they had for years, as they were in the Calaveras School District, which we tried to get out of. Then Unification went into effect. We were stuck ‘til 1970 when three women worked like mad and we managed to get out of it and into the Vallecito school district. Then the new schools were built alike, ours being overcrowded in less than two years from the influx of people.
A big outing that first summer was the weekly Saturday to town. The bank was open ‘til noon, we would get the groceries, and sometimes stay for the movie.
In 1946, Bob and Florence Kraft took over the service station for a while until Bob went to work for Doc. They lived in camp until they bought the house up on the hill.
The first tragedy to hit White Pines was when the Suzanetto boy went down the hill on his bike and ran into a lumber truck and was killed instantly. Needless to say, there were no bicycles for a good long time. The second was little Georgie Blatchley who fell from a horse and was kicked. He died instantly.
In the earlier times, a group of people coming home from the bar ran off the road above the school house turn. One man died. Ruby Soma had both hands almost severed. They took her to Dr. Thompson and he sewed them back on and saved them. They were stiff, but she could use them. Also on this side of the turn, the Hanson boy (____) in a car accident.
Dean James was badly hurt involving a shaft of a Cat. He was wound around it. Dr. Thompson pulled him through. Also [he pulled through] Wildy Small at one time. Wayne Reed was killed when a truck (____) went over the bank, first year.
The post office was the first to be built, 1941-42. It was one of Doc’s cabins pulled up on the road. The new post office was built later in 1948. The company furnished the lumber and the volunteer help. It was closed after the mill shut down. Mrs. Libercajt (spelling corrected from Louise’s account) was the first post mistress, then Claramae Dugay, then Laverle James. Susan James was there when it closed, there not being enough people to keep it open. So we had to go to Arnold or have the rural route, as several have done.
The Woods, Hank, Cootie and Jr., opened the grocery store in 1947. That was so handy. He hauled his own meat and produce, and the prices were right. He also would bring things for you from Stockton. They closed the store, or rather sold it, in the mid 70’s, but young Wyrick’s shut it down soon after, so we were back where we started.
The Community Hall was likewise built with volunteer labor. The company furnished the lumber. It was the focal point of all the social doings of the town. It was also used as a school room for many years [Page 5], until one of the many extra rooms were built on the school. It was also a kindergarten classroom. My son, Carl, would go down every day and sit in the doorway to watch the goings-on before he started school. It was also used for a Church, Red Cross work, bridal and baby showers, potlucks, dances, Christmas parties, movies, and anything else that required room. The Union meeting, too.
During the early years, the company would buy each school kid and all others a present at Christmas. We women would make the lists, call a store in Sacramento, tell them how many boys of certain ages, the same for the girls, then we would wrap them and, at the big party, Santa would give them out. But, as the school and area grew, it had to be stopped.
The Company also furnished turkeys and all the trimmings for a big Christmas dinner. The women would cook it all, pies, etc. and have the dinner. Then we also had a dance with the Company furnishing the band. Needless to say, a good time was had by all, but there [were] too, too many people for dinner. But the dance continued for many years. In fact, there is still one but not many of the old timers now. Too many new people and just [too many] people, period.
During the war years, the Red Cross ladies met at the Community Hall and made bandages, knit sweaters, socks, scarfs and anything else that was needed. And once a month they had a big potluck lunch.
The Hall was used for the school hot lunch program ‘til the new Hazel Fischer school was opened. Mrs. Fouts gave Sunday dinners on her own, with help from some of the ladies, mostly Marge Bowman, to raise money for the lunch program. It was long hard work. The State did finally help with surplus food and the school district finally did come through with help. But it was started on a shoe string. The PTA bought silverware, the Community Club helped with trays, etc., and Wilda cooked on the small household stove, with the women volunteering the dishwashing for the first year or so. Three girls from the upper grades would also help for their lunch, plus two boys got their lunch for cleaning up with Bob Fouts’ help. There were about 50-60 kids for lunch then.
In time it was a bigger deal with many more kids and paid help. Naomi Liechty started first, then Marge Bowman. I took over from her in 1962 ‘til ‘69. We were serving 100-150 kids and it got bigger as time went on.
The dining room was added last. It started as one room, then a small room was added to the back for a kitchen, which was later used for the rest rooms. The small kitchen was put on the north side, then a back porch, then the dining room. But it was way too small to hold all the people.
The first PTA started in 1942, but it was given up for the Community Club. Later it was started again in 1948. I was active in it ‘til Carl was out of school.
The play shelter was built for the winter play area, but it could not be used because the snow blew into it, so it was really never any good. There was one Graduation in it, the year Miss Fischer retired. We all said it should be closed in to make a swimming pool.
At first, the kids went up on San Antone creek to the bath tub, a natural hole, not too big, but they had fun. Then the Company put a box in the Big Tree Creek and made a swimming hole for the kids, and we all did enjoy it. The water was so cold, but you stayed with it.
We went to swim wherever there was a place — to Fly-in-Acres (now Blue Lake Springs), then to Paradise Ranch ‘til the Boy Scouts took it over, then Andy Anderson built the pool up to Dorrington. That was the summer past time for all the kids and a few of us big kids.
The fire house in White Pines was built next to the post office to have a fire truck handy with a volunteer crew. But the whole thing fell through. Hank Woods bought the building, then some kids were smoking in it one time and set it on fire.
The old mill office was used for a pre-school for two years before a room was available at the old school. Kindergarten was held in the hall for two years ‘til there were portable classrooms added to the school. Once the pre-school was out, then the Moose Lodge came down from the old lumber yard building in Arnold.
At the main mill office, now the present-day Moose Lodge, there were living quarters for the bookkeeper, being first Ed Hamilton, then Hick Hewlett. His wife Ruth was a nurse, so they fixed a small first aid station to the side for use by the mill or woods crews or as needed.
Brown quit Doc in 1943. He went to work for the Company. He had charge of all the road (____).
[Page 6] Our water supply was from a reservoir up on the hill above the mill. There was also a deep well to help us out, but the water was not good enough for the boilers as it had too many minerals in it. So in the summer, they pumped water from the well to the reservoir and used the creek water for the mill. In 1964 the Calaveras County Water District was formed so we had lines put in and had to pay for a meter and the line as there was no other way to get water.
In the mid ‘40s there was a theater in Arnold, next to Mosbaugh’s. It burned after a couple of years. Then they put in a miniature golf course that lasted a while before the Mosbaughs built their new office. Then it was sold and an electric shop went in, then an antique shop, now the Wine and Cheese store. The rest of the stores were added, [including] the ice cream place. Through the years the other businesses have been added to the town.
During the early years we always had a lot of snow. All the kids, big and small, would play on the hills, there not being much traffic at night, but there would always be someone to stop the cars so the kids could slide across the road, day and night.
When we had to go to Arnold to the store in the winter, as no one drove out, Dillie Mae and I would walk up, taking George on the sled with a box for the groceries. When Carl came along, George would walk and Carl would ride in the box with the groceries. The roads weren’t plowed as often as now. We didn’t think anything about it.
There was lots of snow in those years, and it lasted a long time. My husband’s cousin, Jack Dolley, plowed for Doc and Brown would help. It was always a Christmas Eve job, it seemed, with Jack being gone for the few days.
In the mid 50’s Doc shut his camp down as all the men were married and no need for it, the cook house, that is. The whole area was houses down in back and around past the creek, and up the old road. Those people lived there ‘til the mill closed and they had to move. There was a strike at the mill in 1954 which sent a lot of men out to seek other work, and some of the young ones thought about more steady work.
In 1951 the new highway to Murphys was started, and it was a mess. The first section was the lower end, and the detour went up past the old powerhouse. That wasn’t so bad. But the upper end had a lot of rain and the detour was down Moran road. And of course we had to go to town more than ever that winter, but it was sure nice when it was finished.
That first year there was a California Conservation Corps camp up at Big Trees (all trees now) just below the road. We would drive up to their garbage dump in the evening, as did many people, to see the bears. By staying quiet, they would come out on the dump to eat. But the least little sound and they were gone. We also had our own dump up past the mill and the bears would come in there, too, so we could see them often.
In May 1952, Ray Hollingsworth and some others were hit by a falling timber in the mill. That was the cause of his death, and of the injuries for the others. (See Blagen Mill’s Only Fatality)
Fly-in-Acres (now Blue Lake Springs) was to be an airport for private planes, but it was too short a runway. A plane came into land once but it was too short a strip and they couldn’t get up high enough and crashed in the ravine up from Blaine’s. The two men were seriously hurt. Ruth Hewlett went with them in the ambulance to Stockton hospital. That was the end of that. (____) apple orchard there, and cattle range — the Bonfillio place.
[Page 7] The mill shut down in 1962, there being more money then in real estate than lumber. The Company changed hands many times, at that time. The men who were old enough to retire did so. Others were transferred to other mills. Some went to find work where they could. Needless to say, it was a very trying time for all. It was not easy for men to think of looking for work in their mid 50’s. Brown got the job of Fire Patrolman of the woods for the Company, and I was working at the school cafeteria, so we were alright. Carl had graduated from high school and was going into the service.
White Pines Lake was built in 1970. The idea was to build condominiums all around the lake, and all up San Antone creek was to be houses. Then a building ban went into effect that stopped that. We were happy as no one wanted that much growth in the area. As that phase went past, the Calaveras Water District bought the lake as a backup water supply after the drought of 1977. Lucky it has not been needed so far. The lake is open to the public for fishing, boating, swimming and for picnicing. Lots of people use it. Later the ball field was built and gets a lot of use: The Courtwright-Emerson Memorial Park. It is partially on the area where the mill sat. Brown has watched out for the area since he retired in 1973, until this past year, 1983, [but now] there is just too much hassle from too many people. The lake is planted with fish often so that draws a lot of people. It is a very good place for kids to fish, too.
Down below the lake on San Antone Creek is the old Manuel’s mill site. He had the saw mill there and a tram to haul the lumber to the top of the hill to the yard. The yard was still there when we came, but ceased soon after. The yard was on the flat to the west of Arnold, just out past the bank on the Manuel Road, there being houses out that way now.
Toyon, below San Andreas, was the drying yard part of the mill. The lumber was hauled there by truck and stored. Plus there was a planing mill there and the railroad stop to ship lumber by rail. It also closed when the mill shut down. Many of the Calpine men worked there and lived in San Andreas.
Our first trip over the Pass was a hair raiser, the road being one-way in places. Below Cascade Creek cabin it has been widened out in some places. But it still is one of our favorite drives of all the passes. It does stun some of the tourists who go over it for the first time. They are scared so bad, they stay in the middle of the road. And believe it or not, there have been log trucks go over it. Plus, at one time, one of Doc’s drivers went over it. Plus, one long liner who was not aware of it and went over the bank below the Cascade Creek cabin on one of the short turns. And a car went off the first turn hanging in mid air. But mostly people are so scared they are going slow.
This ends my story. I hope whoever reads it enjoys it as much as I have had doing it. It is just a journal for my own use, and for our children, to look back on in years to come. [White Pines] has been home to them all their lives, and for a good many of Brown’s and mine. Having lived in this house for 45 years, it fits well. A lot of nice people have come and gone through our lives.
Please excuse my mistakes. I did pretty good for my limited experience at typing! Finished March 24, 1984. Started in 1979.
- As our web site has grown, we now have information about some of our subjects in more than one place.
- For information about the history and background of the move to, and the creation of, White Pines, the reader might want to read: (History of White Pines Lake)
- and/or for information about the move down from Calpine visit: (Linebaugh Logging)
- For a personal account of the move from a member of the Blagen family, look at: (Frank Blagen Jr. Story)
For a warm and wonderful view of the move to, and settlement of, White Pines, you are already in the right place.