Written by Ken Fisher
Originally published in the ECHO 8/1990
Sometimes pictures are worth 1,000 words. Here are a few rare shots and my explanations of what they mean. First is three men drilling a log. In the earliest days of Mountain logging, the eastern milling gear was too small to handle our 10-20 foot diameter redwood giants, so they cut the logs to length and used long handled augers to drill holes down the log’s length as shown here.
Then they filled the holes with dynamite, and blasted the logs apart lengthwise into smaller pieces they could cut with their small east coast saw blades. The shot on the left is drilling the holes in a tree about 12′ in diameter, and the shot on the right is a log as it blasted apart.
The next few shots show how the landscape has changed. The first amazing shot is of Methuselah in 1937. Fourteen feet in diameter, it is one of about 30 old growth redwoods still located 50 yards east of the second pull-off on the left, south of Skeggs Point as you are driving south on Skyline. Now it is surrounded by young three foot diameter redwoods and firs which are as tall as it is. In 1937 the area around it was still barren from clearcutting days.
On the next page is an 1880s shot of the main Borden and Hatch mill site. The canyon around it is clear-cut, completely butched bald. I did a mill site documentation of this mill for the county archives. The stump in the picture’s lower righthand corner is still there. Standing at the same spot this picture was taken from, which was first shown to me by Ralph Buffa, you see a full forest, again of three foot diameter redwoods. Both of these shots show how amazingly a clear-cut forest grows back in 100 years. Of course the other thing that has happened is that what is today Sage and Chaparral on the Mountain’s north and southwest edge, was all grassland in the 19th century during the dairying era .
Below is a shot of a single home. It was the 19th century Van Winkle residence, at the site of today’s 12130 Skyline Blvd. (the Al Bell home). Now it is Sage and Chaparral country. You can see then it was pure grass.
Finally, the bottom photo isn’t from Kings Mountain but proves a point. It is a 1920s shot looking north over the Crystal Springs dam. Most of you have gone this same route going toward Sawyer Camp Road. The photo proves well known historical principIe that old buildings vanish. I’ve circled buildings to the dam’s left and above it on the hill. Today there is no sign of the buildings. The same thing happened on the Mountain to our dozens of old buildings – vanished with no foundations.
Don’t forget! Mark your calendar for Sunday, October 21st at 2 : 00 PM at the Firehouse, where I’ll deliver a Kings Mountain history talk and slide show for the County Historical Association’s “History Buffs” Anyone from the Mountain is welcome. No charge. I’ll be introducing the first public display ever of pictures of the Kings, including Frank and Honora King, after whom the Mountain is named.