Union Lumber Company

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In 1882, Charles Russell ("C.R.") Johnson bought into the Mill Creek (Ten Mile River) operations of Calvin Stewart and James Hunter, which later became Union Lumber Company, incorporated in August 1889. Johnson also founded Fort Bragg Redwood Company, which started operations in 1885. In 1905 the Union Lumber Company purchased the Little Valley Lumber Company and part interests in the Glen Blair and Mendocino Lumber Companies. Union Lumber was also responsible for the establishment of the National Steamship Company. Charles Russell laid out the town site for Fort Bragg, and served as the town's first mayor in 1889.

From the description of Union Lumber Company records, 1854-1973. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 214966350

Corporate History

UNION LUMBER COMPANY -In December, 1882, Charles Russell Johnson, youthful, energetic and determined, age 23, and recently from Michigan and Wisconsin, bought into the Mill Creek (Ten Mile River) operations of Calvin Stewart and James Hunter. From this partnership of Stewart, Hunter, and Johnson has grown Union Lumber Company. C.R., as Mr. Johnson would be known throughout his long and eventful career, brought perseverance, integrity, and a basic feeling of worth and dignity of the individual from his ancestral inheritance. On this concept he established an enterprise that would strongly influence the history of the redwood industry. From its inconspicuous beginnings at Mill Creek, Union Lumber Company has pioneered enlightened forest practice policies and developed plant and product innovations that have insured the stability of the community through continuous employment through all the business ups and downs since its founding. C.R.'s initial step was forming the Fort Bragg Redwood Company and moving to the site of the old abandoned army post at Fort Bragg. This move provided an abundance of land for plant site and harbor where boats could load alongside a wharf. The new Fort Bragg mill commenced operations November 16, 1885. The first shipment of lumber left the new wharf on board the steam schooner West Coast. The need for additional timber saw the incorporation on August 17, 1891, of Union Lumber Company. This brought the property and assets of White and Plummer along the Noyo River into the new venture with W.P. Plummer becoming the General Manager. In 1905, the Little Valley Lumber Company was purchased and part interest in the Glen Blair Lumber Company and the Mendocino Lumber Company was acquired. Through the years other Mendocino County properties have been added to allow for planned growth programs. The latest, being he properties of the Pacific Coast Company in 1960, including timber and mills at Willits and Leggett. To ship forest products to market and bring merchandise to Fort Bragg, the National Steamship Company was founded in June, 1901, as a subsidiary of Union Lumber Company. The company operated a fleet of ships along the Pacific Coast until the late 1930's. Some ships owned were the National City, Brunswick, Coquelle River, Arctic, and three named Noyo. Another subsidiary, California Western Railroad was incorporated June 30, 1905, taking over the logging railroad of Union Lumber Company. In December, 1911, the first through-train reached Willits thus giving Fort Bragg and Western Mendocino County direct rail connection with the rest of the continent. To assure perpetuity of its natural resources, Union Lumber Company pioneered a reforestation program and established its own nursery in the 1920's. The program showed that natural reforestation from sprouts and seedlings would do a better job and the nursery project was abandoned. Union Lumber Company now subscribes to the principles of Tree Farming and was an early Redwood Region leader in the movement, dedicating the C.R. Johnson Tree Farms on May 19, 1951. Today, all Company forest land has been placed under the Tree Farm program. This is an assurance that the forest products industry will always be a major influence on the economy of Mendocino County. A strong research facility exists to develop new products from redwood bark, tanoak, and certain common grades of lumber. Through research and development, new products and new techniques will continue to evolve. These, in turn, will bring new jobs and career opportunities to Union Lumber Company people. Although not a company town, Fort Bragg has always been considered in the Company's plans since C.R. Johnson laid out the town site and was elected its first mayor in 1889. In 1965, and excess of $8,000,000 was paid out in wages and local purchase of services and materials; 27% of County taxes were paid by Union Lumber Company.

from History of Mendocino County, California, Mendocino County Historical Society, 1967 (pp 798-799).

From the guide to the Union Lumber Company Records, 1854-1960, (The Bancroft Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Acme Lumber Company. corporateBody
associatedWith ACME LUMBER COMPANY corporateBody
associatedWith Anglo Bank corporateBody
associatedWith A.R. Johnston Company corporateBody
associatedWith Atlas Tank Manufacture. corporateBody
associatedWith Bay City Lumber and Supply Company corporateBody
associatedWith California Redwood Association. corporateBody
associatedWith California Western Railroad & Navigation Co. corporateBody
associatedWith C.A. Perkins and Perkins Bros. corporateBody
associatedWith Caspar Lumber Company corporateBody
associatedWith Casper Lumber Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Cattle Company corporateBody
correspondedWith Clark L. Poole and Company corporateBody
correspondedWith Coos Bay and Pacific States Lumber Company corporateBody
associatedWith Coos Bay Lumber Company. corporateBody
associatedWith C. R. Johnson person
correspondedWith E. C. Williams person
associatedWith Fort Bragg Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Fort Bragg Redwood Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Glen Blair Lumber Company. corporateBody
associatedWith GLEN BLAIR REDWOOD COMPANY corporateBody
associatedWith Irvine and Muir Lumber Compan corporateBody
correspondedWith J. C. Ford person
associatedWith Johnson, Charles Russell. person
associatedWith Johnson, Otis R. person
associatedWith Johnson, Otis W. person
associatedWith Lumber Record Bureau corporateBody
associatedWith Mendocino Lumber Co. corporateBody
correspondedWith MENDOCINO LUMBER COMPANY corporateBody
associatedWith Michigan Trust Company corporateBody
associatedWith Mill Rail corporateBody
associatedWith National Steamship Company. corporateBody
associatedWith National War Labor Board corporateBody
associatedWith Noyo Grape Packing Company corporateBody
associatedWith Noyo Land corporateBody
associatedWith Noyo Lumber Company corporateBody
associatedWith Old Big River Lumber Company corporateBody
associatedWith Online Archive of California. corporateBody
correspondedWith Otis R. Johnson person
correspondedWith Otis W. Johnson person
associatedWith Pacific States Lumber Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Redwood Industrial Relations Committee corporateBody
associatedWith Redwood Operators Committee corporateBody
associatedWith Rockport Redwood Company corporateBody
associatedWith San Jose Lumber corporateBody
associatedWith San Jose Lumber Company corporateBody
associatedWith Smith, Kenneth person
associatedWith The Dean Reversible Window Company corporateBody
associatedWith War Labor Board corporateBody
associatedWith Wells and Johnson's Mill corporateBody
associatedWith West Coast LumberCommission corporateBody
associatedWith West Coast Timber Company corporateBody
associatedWith Williams, Edwards C., 1820-1913. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Fort Bragg (Calif.)
Lumber trade

Corporate Body

Active 1905

Active 1956


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