Bella Vista: A lumber town

Guest Writer Spotlight: Jeremy M. Tuggle: Shasta Historical Society

The original carpenters behind the famous Shasta Lumber Company’s flume (also known as the Terry lumber flume) were Orison D. Morse and his siblings who completed the first five miles of lumber flume in 1886 before Morse sold the lumber flume to Holbrook and Phillips. Later, these gentlemen sold out to Joseph Enright, a native of Ireland, and the energetic owner of the Shasta Lumber Company. This company immediately erected a sawmill at Hatchet Mountain, and then they extended the lumber flume’s course of construction from where Holbrook and Phillips stopped and brought it down the canyon.

Then in, December of 1887, the Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding reported the following account:

Shut Down – Nick Stewart, who has been blacksmithing for the Shasta Lumber Company, informs us that about forty men were discharged last week, and the mill and logging camp had been shut down for the winter. About twenty men are still employed on the flume, which has reached Scroggins’ place near the junction of Cow and Cedar Creeks. Snow at the mill is two feet deep, while twelve miles this side the grass is growing. There is enough lumber on hand to build fourteen miles of flume.” (SIC)

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Construction of this lumber flume continued after winter. By June 30, 1888, the Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding stated the following in an excerpt of an article about the Shasta Lumber Company’s lumber flume:

“…it is now an undisputed fact that this gigantic enterprise is rapidly nearing completion and in a few months the products of our vast lumber region in the northern and eastern parts of the county will be put on the market.” (SIC)

This lumber flume was completed by the Shasta Lumber Company in August of 1888 when it reached the vicinity of present-day Bella Vista, they ended the course of construction at the end of what is now Meyer Road (just off Deschutes Road.) The lumber flume was a V-shape structure which was elevated to 90’ in height and supported by scaffolds. Enright purchased the Gipson ranch at that location in order to have a stopping point for his company’s lumber flume. This area was the end-of-the-line for the lumber flume and Bella Vista was originally called, the dump, because it was the dumping point of their lumber coming off the lumber flume. The original town site was established with a general merchandise store owned by the Shasta Lumber Company, company offices, a planning mill and additional buildings.

The distance of this lumber flume was 32-miles long from its start at Hatchet Mountain to its dumping point. From the dump, the Shasta Lumber Company wanted to continue construction of the lumber flume towards Anderson, but the valley terrain was too level to allow the lumber flume to operate and they had to think of additional methods to transport their lumber from the dump to the Southern Pacific’s station in Anderson for their product to be shipped to the market.

Above: the Shasta lumber flume (also known as the Terry lumber flume). Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

Then in 1889, E.W. “Pike” Roney constructed a grounded telephone circuit for the Shasta Lumber Company at Bella Vista which was installed between that town and their yard in Redding. This was a line used by company officials only. The installation process that Roney used to create this telephonic line was: “black iron balling wire, salamoniac batteries and Bell company instruments secured from the Bell Telephone Company. Another instrument was connected to this line and located in the apartment of Vuave, assistant superintendent for Enright”. (SIC) This was the first telephone line in operation at Bella Vista.

Now for some myth busting of my own, over the years a number of researchers and local historians have stated that the Anderson-Bella Vista Railroad was established in 1889, but that is false primarily because Bella Vista was still called the “dump” at that time, and this railroad was not constructed yet. This brings us to the following column printed by a local media outlet on, December 13, 1890:

The Anderson Enterprise accredits Mr. Joseph Enright as saying that as soon as the roads become impassable for hauling lumber the teams will be set at work on the railroad grade from the dump to Anderson; that next spring or early in the summer he expects to unload lumber by rail in Anderson.” (SIC)

Above: the Terry Lumber Company store and mill, between the years 1910 to 1913 in Bella Vista. This photograph was taken by Titler. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

Above: the Terry Lumber Company store and office. Additional buildings on the property as well, between the years 1910 to 1913 in Bella Vista. This photograph was taken by Titler. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

In addition to the above incorrect information this railroad was referred to as the Shasta Lumber Company’s railroad and not the Anderson-Bella Vista Railroad, early on. Another newspaper article from the San Francisco Call on February 25, 1891, refers to the railroad by that name and states the following information:

“Building Its Own Railroad. Anderson, Feb. 24 – The grading for the branch railroad of the Shasta Lumber Company of this place to the end of the flume is commenced and will be completed to the Sacramento River by the 15th of April. The line is sixteen miles in length and is standard gauge, fifty-six-pound iron rails. The Shasta Lumber Company is a rich corporation owning 20,000 acres of the finest sugar pine in the State. This road undoubtedly will be extended to the valleys north.” (SIC)

During March of 1891, a meeting was held at Bedford’s hall in Anderson for the purpose of gathering businessmen to secure funds for the completion of the Shasta Lumber Company’s railroad to Anderson. Two of the final phases of construction of this railroad was to install the rails and to build a bridge over the Sacramento River for the train to continue its course into Anderson. The bridge was estimated at a construction cost of five or six thousand dollars. At that time, Joseph Enright managed to negotiate a contract with the Southern Pacific Company to “furnish him with sixteen miles of rails as soon as the grade is completed.

By April of 1893, the construction on the Shasta Lumber Company’s railroad wasn’t completed yet. Flooding from the recent rains had caused the delay. However, the Shasta Lumber Company had been transporting 60,000 feet of lumber daily from the dump to Anderson. Eventually, the Shasta Lumber Company’s railroad was completed that year. The first mention that I found of their engine in operation comes from the following article printed by the Republican Free Press newspaper on November 18, 1893:

“Engine Overboard. Yesterday morning, about 8 o’ clock the Shasta Lumber Company’s engine, attached to a car loaded with lumber while going to Anderson from the dump , and upon being transferred to the ferry boat on the Sacramento River, shot off the boat into deep water, the car following half way, the rear end remaining on the boat. It is thought that it will take about three days to secure the car and lumber and place engine on terrafirma.” (SIC)

The Shasta Lumber Company didn’t retrieve their engine until the following month when the Shasta Courier newspaper printed the following account on December 18, 1893:

The Shasta Lumber Company’s engine has been “snaked” out of the river, where it has been in soak for two or three weeks.

It wasn’t a glorious start to the Shasta Lumber Company’s engine on their newly completed railroad. The route of the Shasta Lumber Company’s railroad started from the planning mill at the dump, and along present-day Deschutes Road to the Southern Pacific Company’s station at Anderson. Joseph Enright had this railroad built because it was quicker way to transport their lumber to the market and it helped the company reach Anderson over the flat terrain where the lumber flume would have failed.

Above: is the Terry Lumber Company planning mill at Bella Vista, between the years 1910 to 1913. If you look at this photograph closely to the left hand corner of the photograph where it says “Titler photograph” you will see the standard gauge railroad tracks of the Anderson-Bella Vista Railroad in the photograph. This photograph was taken by Titler. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

As I stated before, the original location of Bella Vista was at the dump at the end of present-day Meyer Road on the former Gipson ranch. The man who named the town of Bella Vista was Robert Hamilton and he was employed by the Shasta Lumber Company. After Hamilton purchased property nearby, he erected a house on a knoll north west of Cow Creek. Due to the beautiful views from this location Hamilton named it Bella Vista which is the Spanish translation for the English meaning of “beautiful view”. Bella Vista was never referred to as the dump again. 

Additional employees also settled near the Hamilton residence. A pair of so-called subdivisions were also established by lumber company employees on the west bank of north Cow Creek which they referred to as Upper Stringtown and Lower Stringtown. Bella Vista became a booming lumber community.  

Above: dumping lumber at Bella Vista. A man pulling a log out of the lumber flume. This photograph was taken by Titler, between the years 1910 to 1913. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

Above: the Bella Vista lumber yard. This photograph was taken by Titler, between the years 1910 to 1913. This location is at the end of Meyer Road in present day Bella Vista. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

Above: the lumber yard at Bella Vista, California. Date unknown. This location is at the end of Meyer Road in present day Bella Vista. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

Then, on May 18, 1893, a post office was established by the United States Postal Service headquarters in Washington D.C., called Bella Vista which appointed Robert Hamilton as the first postmaster, and the community was now a thriving little town of 200 residents. Most of the settlers were employed by the Shasta Lumber Company, however, early pioneer settlers did live along Cow Creek who were mostly farmers in the area.

Among these early pioneer settlers were Frederick V. Meyer Sr., a native of Bremen, Germany, and the author’s maternal great-great-great-great grandfather, who arrived and settled there in 1851. The original Meyer ranch remains in the family today, and in 1953 was inducted into the State of California’s 100 Year Club for being in business for more than 100 years. Meyer Sr., raised a large family of fourteen children with his wife Caroline (Notten) Meyer. Yank Creek runs through the Meyer property. Yank Creek was named after Joseph Yank who lived on its channel. Another early settler named Christian A. Lemm also raised a large family of his own. Additional people quickly moved into the area acquiring farmland.

Above: the Frederick V. Meyer Sr., family poses for a photograph in front of their two-story farmhouse on Cow Creek near Bella Vista. Meyer Sr., originally owned 160 acres of land and he accumulated additional property later on. From the collection of Jeremy Tuggle.

Above: the Lemm farmhouse, located on Salt Creek beside Highway 299. It was remodeled in 1917. Fire destroyed this Victorian farmhouse in the early 1970s.

Due to the early residents in this territory the oldest schoolhouse in the area was established on August 3, 1875 which was called the Eureka Schoolhouse. It was located near the present-day town of Bella Vista on what is now Blue Sky Road (formerly Aloha Road) on Salt Creek at on Highway 299E. It was a one-room schoolhouse. Several of my relatives on my maternal side were educated here. In addition to that, my maternal great-great-great-great aunt, Olive (Meyer) Chatham taught during the 1911 and 1912 school years as a teacher and so did Franklin R. Love a great-great-great-great uncle of mine by marriage who married Olive’s sister Mary (Meyer) Love. Love taught here in 1887, 1891 and 1897.

A secondary school was established on August 7, 1884, and it was originally called the North Branch schoolhouse. Then on, July 20, 1896 the school was renamed as the Bella Vista Schoolhouse. Like the Eureka Schoolhouse it continued to serve the area through educational purposes.

Above: the Eureka Schoolhouse is pictured here with Olive (Meyer) Chatam standing beside it. Year: 1974. It was demolished in 1980. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

Above: Bella Vista students pose for a class photograph standing against a wall of the Bella Vista Schoolhouse. Year: 1910. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

According to local historian Myrtle McNamar she states that Cow Creek was “first called Arroyo de los Eresnos (Rivulet of the Clover)”. It became Cow Creek in 1845 when Captain John Fremont ventured through the area it was renamed by him after some cattle Fremont saw in the area and the name stuck to this creek. Bella Vista was devastated by fire that ravaged the Shasta Lumber Company property in August of 1895. According to the San Francisco Call newspaper it heralded the following account:

“Bella Vista Blaze. The Shasta Lumber Company’s Boiler House Destroyed. Anderson, Cal., August 10, — A fire broke out Thursday night in the boiler house of the Shasta Lumber Company’s factory at Bella Vista, destroying the building and badly damaging its contents. The other factory buildings were saved by the hard work of the employees. The fire causes a serious impediment to operations of the different departments as they depend almost entirely upon steam for their motive power, the waterpower being sufficient to operate only one or two machines at a time. The company has large orders for material especially for fruit-packing purposes, and the filling of these will be delayed until the damage can be repaired.” (SIC)

Enright and his employees repaired the damages caused by the fire and they continued their shipment of orders. Joseph Enright sold out to Joseph E. Terry in 1897, Terry got quite a bargain for this Shasta County plant and all the Shasta Lumber Company holdings including the railroad when Terry purchased it for less than $100,000. At the time of the sale the Shasta Lumber Company owned about 28,000 acres of land in Shasta County and most of it was timber land. It was Joseph E. Terry who established the Terry Lumber Company, at that time.

On June 15, 1910 another ravaging blaze wiped out the Terry Lumber Mill at Bella Vista which resulted in $75, 000.00 worth of damages to the Terry Lumber Company. In the fire the company lost the box factory, planning mill, two warehouses and large quantities of lumber in the lumber yard. The fire was partially covered by insurance. It’s owner Joseph E. Terry, said that “we will rebuild as soon as our new equipment arrives.

Above: Anna M. Taylor poses for a photograph with two of her children at their home in Bella Vista. A young male child is standing on the left side of Anna and in the house looking out is a young female child. A chair can be seen inside their home. Circa 1917. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

In 1916, Terry employed three hundred men who worked on site at the Terry Lumber Company at Bella Vista. Terry directed his foremen to run two shifts over a twenty-four-hour period both day and night. Then in August of that year the Terry Lumber Company began sawing 175,000 feet of lumber per day. Most of the lumber was transported by railroad to the Southern Pacific station at Anderson to be sent out to the market.

Above: the employees of the Terry Lumber Company are getting ready to ship lumber to the market from Bella Vista. Date unknown. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

Four years later, the Terry Lumber Company was sold to the Red River Lumber Company of Westwood, Lassen County, California, who purchased the holdings of the Terry Lumber Company in January of 1920. By January 17, 1920 it was confirmed by the Red Bluff Daily News in a letter written by Willis J. Walker, vice president of the Red River Lumber Company that, to the local media outlet:

In regard to the Terry property I would say that we have purchased this property of all kinds and expect to begin improving the ranch at Bella Vista right away. We have made no definite plans as to what will be done with the remainder of the property beyond taking care of miscellaneous property and will probably repair the flume so as to use on the ranch. Our plans beyond that are not at all definite.” (SIC)

According to Ethel (Saxon) Ward whose article “Pioneering In Lumber Transportation” was published by the Shasta Historical Society in the 1964 Covered Wagon writes the following:

The Red River Lumber Company succeeded the Terry Company in ownership of their timber lands and flume. Harvey Klingler, the old-time flume boss, was recalled to repair the flume. The mill operated from 1920 to 1922. Evidently the operation was not profitable as mill and flume were abandoned in 1922.” (SIC)

To see other articles written by Jeremy M. Tuggle, make sure to visit his blog, Exploring Shasta History.

During its prime the town of Bella Vista had a thriving population of 2,000 people. Over the years, Bella Vista’s community consisted of saloons, barber shops and various stores, including gas stations. Later, Deschutes Road was cut and graded in 1945 and it replaced the Anderson-Bella Vista Railroad when it was abandoned, that year. Meyer Road was named after Donald Meyer and his wife Thelma (Stone) Meyer. Donald Meyer is a grandchild of pioneer Frederick V. Meyer Sr., and together they purchased the land in 1949, to establish their Meyer Ranch at that location where Bella Vista was established.

During the year 1977, Ed Carmichael donated a half-acre lot located about a mile east of Deschutes Road on Highway 299 E near Dry Creek Road for the Bella Vista Volunteer Fire Company. At that time, they lacked a fire station. Soon, they would have their new fire station erected which was used as their new headquarters under Fire Chief, Orval Pressley. Previously, they gathered at the Bella Vista Elementary School where training exercises were held as well. At that time the fire department had 22 members ready to serve the community when the alarm rang out.

In 2010, the U.S. Census documented that the population for Bella Vista reached 2,781. The Bella Vista Elementary School in the Bella Vista School District continues the education of local children from grades Kindergarten through 5th grade, and life in the town continues to thrive daily. The only items remaining of (Old) Bella Vista are concrete blocks and one single railroad tie located on private property at the end of Meyer Road.

Above: a county map before the establishment of Bella Vista showing the junction of Dry Creek and north Cow Creek, also the Gipson ranch, the Frederick V. Meyer Sr., ranch (misspelled as Myers) the surname was never corrected on this map, the Joseph Yank ranch and others along north Cow Creek appear on this map as well. This is the 1884 Map of Shasta County.

POSTMASTERS OF BELLA VISTA:

Robert Hamilton – 5-18-1893

Robert S. Roycroft – 11-12-1896

Francis Ray Drennon – 6-29-1916

Joseph E. Terry – 10-27-1916

Note: The Bella Vista Post Office was discontinued on June 30, 1918 under Terry, and the Mail was rerouted through Palo Cedro. The Bella Vista Post Office was reinstated on August 12, 1920 under Welder.

Albert L. Welder – 8-12-1920

Mary Luella Lofton – 7-19-1922

Edna D. Nasland – 6-8-1937

Vera F. Mallard (Acting Postmaster) – 3-23-1939

Charlotte L. Hamlin – 8-1-1939

Florence Violet Wilson – 7-15-1945

Gertrude Sims – 10-15-1944

Virginia L. McGrew – 7-17-1971

Marian R. Rutherford – 4-27-1985

Kathleen Munhollon – 7-2-2011

Walter C. Evans III – 11-26-2016

Above: the 1904 Edward Denny & Company’s Map of Shasta County showing the town of Bella Vista. The Frederick V. Meyer Sr., ranch is noted on here and the surname is spelled correctly. However, in 1904 it was the Terry Lumber Company that owned the lumber flume which is shown here as being owned by the Shasta Lumber Company. Other ranches appear on the map as well.


Meet the writer: Jeremy M. Tuggle, Research Historian – Shasta Historical Society

Jeremy M. Tuggle, born in Redding, is a descendant of 11 pioneer families who settled Shasta County between 1849-1889. Jeremy attended Shasta College and is the author of two published books, Rooted in Shasta County (2003), and A Journey Through Time: Ono and the Bald Hills (2008), as well as various articles on local history.

In 2017 Mr. Tuggle was awarded a Community Service Award, a prestigious national award for community service in historic preservation, by the Major Pierson B. Reading Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Jeremy is a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of California, and an Eagle Scout. Tuggle has been employed at the Shasta Historical Society as their Research Historian since November of 2009. In this role, Jeremy digitizes collections items, maintains our social media sites, conducts research for library patrons and the historical society’s programs and publications.

Additionally, he is available to visit local schools, senior citizen homes, and other area organizations, to present engaging programs and lectures about Shasta County history.

RESOURCES:

Shut Down – The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, December 17, 1887

That Lumber Flume – The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding June 9, 1888

The Shasta Lumber Co’s Flume – The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, June 30, 1888

The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, August 4, 1888

The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, August 11, 1888

California Voters Registration, 1890

The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, December 13, 1890

Building Its Own Railroad – The San Francisco Call newspaper of San Francisco, February 25, 1891

Railroad Grading Commenced – The Sacramento Daily Union newspaper of Sacramento, February 25, 1891

Important Meeting – The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, March 7, 1891

Joseph Enright and R.G. Hamilton – The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, April 29, 1893

Engine Overboard – The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, November 18, 1893

A Mammoth Lumber Enterprise – The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, December 9, 1893

The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, December 10, 1893

Great Register of Shasta County, California 1894

Bella Vista Blaze – The San Francisco Call newspaper of San Francisco, August 11, 1895

A Great Bargain – The Sacramento Union newspaper of Sacramento, May 30, 1897

The Shasta Lumber Company – The Daily Free Press newspaper of Redding, June 1, 1897

Fire Wipes Out Shasta Plant – The Sacramento Union newspaper of Sacramento, June 16, 1910

Bella Vista Mill Employs 300 Men – The Sacramento Union newspaper of Sacramento August 6, 1916

Morse Originator of Famous Shasta Lumber Flume – The Chico Record newspaper of Chico, May 5, 1917

Terry Lands Are Sold to Walker Company – The Red Bluff Daily News newspaper of Red Bluff, January 17, 1920

Walkers Improving Lumber Property – The Sacramento Union newspaper of Sacramento, January 27, 1920

May Develop Terry Timber – The Sacramento Union newspaper of Sacramento, January 28, 1920

New Building Marks 47 Years of Telephone Progress Here – The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, January 11, 1927

School Districts of Shasta County, 1853-1955

History of Telephones in Shasta County by Peggy Kesterson. On file at the Shasta Historical Society in VF 621.0 Utilities, 1973-1974.

In the Shadow of The Mountain by Edward Peterson

Pioneering in Lumber Transportation written by Ethel (Saxon) Ward, The Covered Wagon 1964, pages 32-36, published by Shasta Historical Society.

The Meyer Family written by Edna (Chatham) Wallace and Suzanne Kershaw, The Covered Wagon 1974, published by Shasta Historical Society.

The Lemms of Bella Vista Ten Sons by Ruth (Lemm) Martin and Jane (Lemm) Long, The Covered Wagon 1979, pages 61-69, published by Shasta Historical Society.

Fire Company Finds Land In BV – The Record Searchlight newspaper of Redding, June 16, 1977

VF 979.424 Bella Vista on file at Shasta Historical Society


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Guest Writer Spotlight

Want to be featured in a future “Guest Writer Spotlight” article? Contact the editor: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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