Sunday, June 19, 2005

Wheat and sawdust

From: "Wendell Huffman"

... On that same thumbnail index is a great picture an an early wheat combine (combination cutter and thresher) – which relates to that discussion about bag or bulk wheat. Talk about a hot and dirty beast to manage!

And, having mentioned bag vs bulk wheat– over on the 4L discussion group there has been some discussion of shipment of sawdust/wood shavings in the 19th century. There seems to be agreement that there was a market for such (saloon floors, insulation – either in buildings or in the shipment of ice – packing grapes). However, I suspect most (if not all) was obtained from local sources (local planing mills, box factories, furniture or wagon makers, or – in the case of the Truckee ice plants – local sawmills) and did not require rail shipment. Have any of you run across mention of shipping sawdust/shavings that would suggest how it was shipped (bulk, sacked, barrels)???

I mentioned that the market was probably small and local from the experience of the American River Land & Lumber Co's mill at Folsom. That mill was (reportedly) the world's first all-electric sawmill, and it failed primarily because it became plugged up with its own waste. Without boilers to burn its waste, and prohibited from dumping the waste into the American River by the fish and game commissioner (apparently the first intent), and UNABLE TO FIND A MARKET for its waste, the mill was soon moved to Pino Grande and converted to steam. I suspect everyone in Sacramento who needed sawdust could find all the needed in the many wood-related factories in Sacramento.

Wendell