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Caspar Headlands HISTORY
Caspar Headlands may be looked upon as an intensely impacted industrial site abandoned to cattle nearly half a century ago. From these lands and the forest beyond, a thriving mill extracted and shipped millions of board feet of virgin redwood. In 1946, a well-developed railroad network extended 26 miles into the forest (but never connected to a main line.) Lumber was shipped via "dog hole schooners" that moored in Caspar's sheltered anchorage.
The scale of the operation was large, as befitted the place that reduced the largest logs ever milled to lumber, often 12 feet in diameter. Many timber industry innovations were pioneered here, including redwood water main and sewer pipe, the double-sided band saw, and the wire chute with which finished lumber was delivered to the decks of the schooners.
Caspar was lucky. Prior to 1955, when mill operations ceased, the logging industry was reasonably non-toxic. No virulent chemicals or solvents were spilled here, and the worst residue was bunker oil used to fire the boilers of the steam engines that drove the mill. The headlands did not escape unscathed, however. The topsoil and native flora was scraped off to create flat areas for drying lumber, and massive cement foundations and iron staples were laid and driven into the underlying rock. These remnants will remain on the land for decades, and open a window into the work of generations of woods heroes.
With heroism and ingenuity, Caspar has always been about people first. By the standards of its day, Caspar's lumber operations were extremely safe, humane, and considerate of the forest and surround. The result is that the headlands today are a fascinating blend of history and nature, pride and nostalgia.
Notes on the pictures:
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