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Early Logging in the San Juan Valley

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1 Early Logging in the San Juan Valley
The Railroad The Camps The Logging The Union By “Wild” Click to advance slide

2 The Railroad Bear Creek Line Harris Creek Line

3 Bear Creek Camp, camp on far side of famous trestle, and parking on Shawnigan Lake side of trestle. Later became the “end of the Steel”. In the mid-1930’s, the San Juan Valley attracted another large scale logging operation. Obtaining timber licenses in the upper reaches of the valley, the Malahat Logging Co. built a railway line from their beach camp, extending 22 km/13.6 miles to beyond the bear Creek Valley. The line followed much the same route as the Red Creek Main Line. Beach Camp, one of two camps built by them, was located where the present Port Renfrew townsite is today. At the time, the camp had a large shop, a rail line rightaway, an office, a cookhouse, a few homes and bunkhouses for the boommen and railway crews. The second camp, located on the west side of Bear Creek housed the fallers, donkey punchers, high riggers, hootenders and chokermen, the men who worked to get the timber out of the woods, This camp was built in when construction was started on the Bear Creek Bridge. Standing 242 feet high and spanning 517 feet across, the bridge was, in those days, the highest wooden trestle in the world. Info from “Hiking through History” taken from internet

4 Famous Bear Creek Trestle
Famous Bear Creek Trestle. Later in years when the bridge was showing its age, the train crew would send someone across the bridge on foot. Then they would send train with loaded skeleton cars across the bridge unmanned. When it got to other side, they would jump back on.

5 Heisler No. 8 crossing the trestle

6 The three 26 foot high by 90 foot long creosoted spans were prefabricated in North Vancouver. Building the Bear Creek trestle.

7 Climax crossing Bear Creek Trestle
Climax crossing Bear Creek Trestle. The last run the train made out of Bear Creek was in The train had ended its runs out of Harris Creek 2 years earlier in 1955.

8 Waddy Weeks, Locomotive Eng.
Waddy at controls

9 “Speeders” used for crew transportation to and from work, freight delivery, school bus, and
public transportation between Beach Camp, Bear Creek, and Harris Creek.

10 Building 3-Rivers bridge (built with a curve)

11 Train crossing Three Rivers Bridge, later on when it was decked for truck logging, they built
a “Y” in the bridge (around where the caboose is), swinging off to the pictures left, so it could join up with truck spur heading up the left side of 3-River Valley.

12 Cathels and Sorenson’s Shay No. 4 on the Granite Creek Trestle. B.C.F.P.
scrapped her in 1959

13 The Camps Bear Creek Camp Harris Creek Camp Beach Camp

14 Bear Creek

15 Sunday ball game, Malahat Logging Co. (1928)

16 Bear Creek Camp, Malahat Logging, 1936 -1938

17 Bear Creek, Early 1950’s

18 Bear Creek Cookhouse


20 Bear Creek Community Hall, in the 1950s

21 Bear Creek school, identical to the one built at Harris Creek, also taken in the early 1950s

22 Harris Creek

23 Early picture of Harris Creek, note skeleton cars parked on spur
Early picture of Harris Creek, note skeleton cars parked on spur. When this picture was taken, shop was farther down the track to the right, just before the valley narrowed into the canyon.


25 Harris Creek Camp, picture
taken around 1948 The train logging operations on the north side of the valley were taken over by Matt Hemmingsen, He was pushing the railroad further, up into the Harris Creek drainage and later began building the upper Harris Creek Camp. The Camp was completed in 1946 when a large company, the newly-formed BC Forest Products, bought out most of the area’s timber rights, both railway systems in the valley and camps. They completed the upper Harris Creek camp and utilized Beach and Bear Creek camps.

26 Main tracks through camp


28 Note fence in foreground barely visible above snow

29 Harris Creek in the early 1950s, just after they ripped up the railway
Harris Creek in the early 1950s, just after they ripped up the railway. The main road still isn’t established and in front of the houses (by river) you can still see stacks of railway ties that had been pulled up. Where the road crosses the river, the bridge is now gone, but a swinging foot bridge is there, which was build recently as a safety route for the “LongLine” crew who were working at the top of the mountain.

30 Cookhouse Staff (Harris Creek), Lars Lovbakke in center at rear.

31 Community Hall

32 Harris Creek kids (Bobby Laurient, Gordon Laurient, Virginia Smith
Harris Creek kids (Bobby Laurient, Gordon Laurient, Virginia Smith. They were the children of Louie Laurient( mechanic), Bert Smith (Slackline Operator and Union rep.)) Watching a game of horseshoes beside the 20 man bunkhouse. All the other bunkhouses were 8 man (4 men on one side and 4 men on the other separated by a drying room where the woodstove was located. As usual the fallers (King of the Woods) were housed in the best bunkhouse (20 man).

33 Swimming Hole, Lars Lovbakke center with legs in water

34 Beach Camp

35 1954 Port Renfrew Superior School Back Row: Jim Hagen (2nd from left, still working as Grader Operator for Munns Lumber), Dave Thompson (directly in front of teacher, became foreman for Timberwest), Kenny Jones (2nd from right, became Dry Land Sort foreman for Timberwest), Front Row: Jill Moxness (3rd from right, daughter of Blondie Moxness who became Superintendent for B.C.F.P. At Caycuse on Cowichan Lake)

36 Beach Camp, British Columbia Forest Products, as it looked around 1962

37 The Logging

38 Hay Rack loading with tongs under Wooden Tree

39 Harris Creek re-load, where logs were taken off of trucks and put onto railway cars. Harris Creek houses can be seen In background.

40 Re-Load shack at Harris Creek
Re-Load shack at Harris Creek. Waddy Weeks (Locomotive Eng), working on Power Saw, Ralph Ross (4th from left reading book, and Art Hydes (5th from left).

41 Later, reload was moved to just above Lower Harris Creek bridge.

42 New “Burger” winch mounted on wooden sleigh. Yarder Eng
New “Burger” winch mounted on wooden sleigh. Yarder Eng. was Art Wilson, pictured here with his son, Bruce.

43 Front view of “Burger”, Art Wilson at controls
Front view of “Burger”, Art Wilson at controls. Newest High-Lead machine in camp. Notice tin roof and canvas sides. Also the best in seats, wooden block mounted on steal post. Not much for protection!

44 Yarder parked in Harris Creek waiting to be put on “skeleton car” to be moved
to logging site.

45 Here is Don Wilson, 21 years old, pictured sitting on his 54 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, parked
beside the truck he drives. The year was 1958.


47 The Union International Woodworkers of America Local 1-80 Duncan, BC




51 Credits Logging as it Was by Wilmer Gold (Three Rivers Bridge, slide 11) Now You’re Logging by Bus Griffiths (cartoon frames Slide 11) Jack Chester’s Walk Through History (3 pictures of Speeders, slide 9) 4,000 Years (A History of the Rainforest) slide 5 BC Lumberworker, International Woodworkers of America, slides 48-50 Hiking Through History (Teresa Burton) Trails of the San Juan Valley (info used on slide 3 and slide 25) Jim Cameron (Madill Equipment) Pictures on slides 3,18,20,21 were obtained from Jim Cameron Lars Lovbakke (Cook at Harris Creek and Port Renfrew) Slides 29-33, 39-41 Numerous pictures from “Wild’s” collection.

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