Story by Shirley West
Edited by Michael Clawson
Davies needed housing at his new location, so he commissioned the Boca-Loyalton Railroad to transport the company houses from Sardine Valley to Graeagle. The Boca-Loyalton Railroad took them to Beckwourth where they were transferred to the NCC0 Railroad and brought into Graeagle via Clio. This was not as simple as it sounds, as each house had to be sawed in half in order to fit on the railroad cars. These lines are still visible on the red houses on Main Street today.
In the early 1920's, Davies sold his holdings to the California Fruit Exchange, headquartered in Sacramento. Howard Mortenson was the first manager. In the latter part of 1920, Herb Rowe was named general manager. He remained in Graeagle until the mill was sold and dismantled in 1956. In fact, the mill burned two days after his death. Mr. Rowe brought many skilled workers to Graeagle from Hobart Mills, near Truckee.
The Fruit Exchange built a lumber mill near the mill pond, also a box factory, molding mill, planing mill, dry kilns, and huge boiler rooms to generate steam. Everything in town was steam heated. There was a steam line that ran across the highway to service the large red houses on the hill. The steam radiators had two temperatures; too hot or too cold.
Graeagle was completely self-sufficient. They ran both beef herds and a large dairy herd in the surrounding meadows. They had the slaughter house built behind the meadow and off the present Navajo trail. Everyone is familiar with the "dairy", the small stone building located near the old bridge on the Feather River. This was complete with hot and cold running water . . . even a shower for the milkmen. I was fortunate enough to have been given several milk bottles with the cardboard caps still intact and reading "Graeagle Lumber Company Raw Market Milk".
Directly across from the dairy was a tall, spare white house that had been both a stagecoach stop and hostel over one hundred years ago.
The old school house, known as the "Mann School", located at the corner of Highway 89 and county road A14, directly across the highway from the present "frosty" and golf driving range, was of course, the spanking new school house over seventy years ago. They had trouble keeping "school marms", and hardly any stayed long enough to establish tenure. Over half of Graeagle's population was single and courted each and every new school marm unceasingly.