At one time, gigantic logging trucks like this one rumbled right through downtown Murphys. Officially rerouted in the 1990′s, they can no longer do that. They roll down the mountain and keep to Highway 4 on their way to the mill. Loggers can still plow right through downtown Angels Camp on Highway 49. I must admit to a bit of joy at seeing them. In the 80′s I rode with a logger to the woods and photographed the complete operation from cutting, skidding, loading, chaining up and delivering them to the mill. In fact, the driver pulled over to tighten his chains once we left the rugged logging road and I got out to take the big behemoth’s picture. A guy backing out of his driveway, without looking, backed into me with his pick-up. I was unhurt, thankfully. I wish I had those pictures in digital format.
Today’s logs, compared to logging in the seventies and eighties look like toothpicks. I’ve seen two or three or four logs fill one of these trucks. A tree trunk riding high half above the cab made you fear a slipping chain would allow a log to smash through the cab and kill anybody inside. The weight of the load was especially noticeable on Murphys Grade from Forest Meadows to Murphys with the driver managing the winding road, his jake brake scudding. The memories, the sights and smells are great and I’m glad for the truck owners and loggers who have work again. Standard recently opened their mill in Sonora and I followed three trucks down to the river, and across the other side over Parrots Ferry Bridge on my way to the dentist. I returned by way of Stevenot Bridge on 49 through Angels Camp. I counted, coming toward me, four logging trucks which means a full truck was moving through town every five minutes on both highways. As I did some errands, I saw two more pass. Sure enough, I waited and caught this one moving through town. While the jobs are great, they are most likely clear cutting for Sierra Pacific. SP refuses to compromise and do select cuts. They clear huge swaths of land and destroy the beauty and ecology of our area in the Sierra Nevadas. SP owns over a million acres above us, and young trees are falling to the axe. A local group, Forest Watch, has photographed and protested their business practices, but the best way to make them accountable to the local community is to refuse to buy Sierra Pacific Lumber. I recommend you buy certified lumber that is sustainably cut. It is stamped on the end of each board. It is possible to log without desecrating the land and habitat, but the bottom line for corporations is people, nature, and animals last and money first. When I saw that logging had resumed, I speculated on the recent appearance of bear and feral pigs at our elevation and wonder if clear cutting could be upsetting the balance?