According to the back cover, Andy Mark’s new book promises “Thrills, Chills & Mills.” You could say that it also features Spills, ‘Villes, and even Kills. In Stories of the Humboldt Wagon Road he tells the history of the road from Chico, through Jonesville, to Prattville, and all the way to Susanville, with many a stop along the way at wayside watering holes and busy sawmills. Here are the loggers, the miners, and the families who ranched and ran hotels along the road.
Andy has garnered his stories primarily from newspaper accounts of the day from the 1860s, when work on the road began, up through the 1890s. The road was a vital link in the region, opening up the mountains to mining, logging, and summer recreation. Accidents were common on the road, and there are accounts of snowbound travelers, runaway teams, and overturned wagons. Not to mention stagecoach robberies and encounters with grizzly bears. Whether human or animal, some of the creatures met on the road were dangerous.
Perhaps even more dangerous than travel on the wagon road were trips down the flume that ran through Chico Creek. The book features a number of exciting stories of upsets in the flume and falls from great heights.
A trip down the flume on a raft was a quick and easy way to get to town and the scenery on view was magnificent, but a weakened flume section or a collision with a log jam could mean injury or worse. It was a tempting but perilous means of transportation.
Andy has a great interest in local history and it is clear that he knows the landscape and the layout of the Humboldt Wagon Road. As the author of The West Branch Mill of the Sierra Lumber Company (History Press 2012) he brings his expert knowledge of logging in the Sierra Nevada to this effort. Journey the road with him and find out what adventure awaits on this historic route.