As we start on the Amador County logging history, this editor was fortunate enough to talk with Roland Matson, the man primarily responsible for the operating steam saw mill at the Amador County Fair Grounds in Plymouth. We, the Logging Museum, have some photographs that were donated to the museum by Roland, but we will need, first of all, to locate them amongst the thousands of photographs that we own, but do not yet have cataloged. Then we need to connect those photographs with the events and places that they picture.However, as a first step, the Ruggles Mill was of particular interest to us Calaveras folks because the Blagen Mill, upon whose site our museum sits (more or less) was located here in 1938 because of a large tract of land that was available for purchase. This land was known as the Ruggles Tract and was no doubt part of the operation, or planned operation of the mill in Amador and northernmost Calaveras County.Thanks to the terrific resource of the Amador Historical Society and the Amador County Archives, we have some pretty amazing photos of the Ruggles Mill in operation. They follow. I’ve done nothing to clean up, or try to improve the pictures, deciding at this point to let them tell their own story, imperfections and all.
Ruggles Mill in Amador County
(click to enlarge)
This fellow has just topped off what is going to be the spar pole, a tree used to attach blocks and cables in order to be able to lift logs off the ground and to move them from where they were cut to a place from which they can be further transported, or otherwise processed. He, or someone, wrote his name and the date on the photo.
A terrific photo of a whole team of oxen moving a load of logs up a very dusty path.
An amazing photo of the log “tracks” which were used to make moving logs easier. Notice the fork in the tracks, much as if they were train rails
Mules used to pull logs to mill
To finish our trilogy of log hauling methods, this is their steam traction engine moving a load of logs on a wagon, or more likely, wagons.
This truck isn’t moving logs, but it’s hauling slabs in the 1920’s. Not in focus, but still interesting.
A steam donkey shown working at a considerable angle. Good view of its piston and gearing.
A steam donkey working amidst all of the trimmings from the trees that it has been working on.
Folks at the camp watching the rigger doing something. We wish we knew what he was doing and why he was so interesting that he drew a crowd.
The Ruggles Mill at what is now Mace Meadows. Hopefully, as time goes on, we’ll give you more details about this mill.
An interesting photo of the Mace Mill, which we assume preceded the Ruggles Mill at, or near, this location. A duplicate is in the section on Tiger Creek, as one of the “other photos”.
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