Jim Bryant Papers

Identifier: 91-16

Scope and Contents

The Jim Bryant Papers include are partial records of logging and railroad companies of northeastern California, research notes about specific companies and the logging and railroad industries of northeastern California in general; and correspondence with individuals and archival repositories pertaining to those subjects.

The bulk of the collection consists of files related to the "Bizz" Johnson Trail, Fernley and Lassen/Southern Pacific Railroads, Fruit Growers Supply Company, Lassen County government records pertaining to lumbering, Lassen Lumber and Box Company, and Red River Lumber Company. Papers found under these subjects consists of a combination of original documents and photocopies of originals, news clippings, and abstracts from researched sources. Some examples of specific documents include articles of incorporation and amendments to the same, correspondence, petitions, Coroner's inquest transcriptions, court cases, maps of rail lines, Supervisors' resolutions, and articles from local newspapers and lumber magazines such as the Timberman, the Westwood Independent and Sugar Pine, and Lassen Mail and Advocate. Also included are research index cards, maps, and photographs. Maps which did not physically fit into file folders in the appropriate locations were flattened, placed in oversize map folders, and inventoried. The map inventory appears at the end of this guide.

Other companies or organizations represented in the collection include the Associated Lumber and Box Company; California State Railroad Commission and Board of Equalization; California, Shasta and Eastern Railroad; Great Northern Railway Company; Lassen Electric Company/Electric Supply Company; Lassen Logging Company; Northern California Railroad; Scott-Graff Lumber Company; Sierra Pine Products; Walker Investments, Inc.; Western Timber Treating Company; Westwood Auto Club; and Winn and Company. General subject files include logging, railroads, Long Valley, Sawmills, Susanville, and Westwood.

A number of maps accompanied the Bryant collection. Those which were small enough to fit into a file folder were left in their original locations. Maps too large for legal size file folders were removed from their original location (a separation sheet was inserted in the file folder describing the new location), flattened, inventoried, and placed in a manuscript map case drawer. All maps the collection pertain to Lassen and Shasta County logging and lumber companies and date from 1909-1979.


  • 1909-1989


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Biographical Note and Administrative Histories

Jim Bryant

Jim Bryant began this collection because of an interest he had in the Fernley and Lassen Railroad, a branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad which ran from Fernley, Nevada, to the vicinity of Susanville, Lassen County, California. This research brought to his attention the lumber industry of northern California which was inextricably tied to the railroad.

Fernley and Lassen Railroad

As mentioned previously, the newly developing lumber area of northeast California was isolated, enabling Walker to purchase land cheaply. The Southern Pacific Railroad Company heard rumors of Walker's large scale plans for lumbering by 1907. Walker's need for rail transportation coincided with the Southern Pacific's plan to open up the northern area with a proposed line intended to connect Portland, Oregon, with San Diego, California, by way of Klammath Falls, Susanville, and stations in Nevada. Engineering crews spent four years surveying possible routes, and although the S.P.'s full plans were never realized, the Fernley and Lassen Railroad was built between 1912 and 1914 and served the transportation needs of the lumber industry in northeastern California.

The Fernley and Lassen Railroad extended from Fernley, Nevada, to Westwood, where by 1918 two passenger trains arrived daily, along with freight and logging trains. Between 1918 and 1934, both the Lassen Lumber and Box Company and the Fruit Growers Exchange Company had established branch lines from Westwood into their holdings. Then, local business slowed with the arrival of the Western Pacific Railroad lines to Westwood in 1931 and by 1934 passenger service to Westwood ended. Seasonal logging trains continued to run to Westwood until the end of 1952 when the Fruit Growers abandoned its logging railroad and camps. Local rail freighting ended in 1956 and in 1978 the Interstate Commerce Commission approved the Southern Pacific's petition of abandonment of the Fernley and Lassen Railroad.

Red River Lumber Company

Thomas Walker was the owner and founder of the Red River Lumber Company of Minnesota. By the end of the nineteenth century his company was closing down production in Minnesota and acquiring property in northeastern California where land was remote but cheap. Walker's Lassen County holdings were the first proposed for development, beginning with the "Big Mill" begun in 1912 in the new company town of Westwood. This mill was to be the most elaborate and modern mill anywhere in the country. By 1914 the "Big Mill" had cut its first log. Westwood soon became a total lumber manufacturing complex, with a box factory, lath mill, molding and siding department, sash and door factory, and veneer plant. By 1921 Westwood had a population of 5,000.

The Great Depression of the 1930s hit the lumber industry hard, as use of lumber and wood products in the United States declined with the economy and stockpiles grew. In 1944 the mill, town, and about 100,000 acres of timber were sold to the Fruit Growers Supply Company.

Fruit Growers Supply Company

Although the Fruit Growers Supply Company (FGSC) was incorporated in 1921, its first purchase of timber land was in 1919, when the company acquired 40,090 acres from E.S. Collins. In 1920 the FGSC began building and operating a logging railroad from Westwood Junction into the Company's timber lands; this was the longest-lived railroad connected with the Fernley and Lassen Branch. The Company also built a large mill in Susanville across the railroad tracks from the Lassen Lumber and Box Company's mill. FGSC bought out the Red River Lumber Company holdings in Westwood in 1944, acquiring the mill, town, and timber. The company abandoned its logging railroad and camp in 1952 and sold its operations in 1963.

Lassen Lumber and Box Company

Lassen Lumber and Box Company (LLBC) was established in 1918 and built a large mill near the Susanville depot that same year. As with the Fruit Growers, LLBC had its own railroad spur from Westwood into its logging operations. The company sold its holdings to the Fruit Growers Supply Company in 1950.

"Bizz" Johnson Trail

The "Bizz" Johnson Trail, named for California Congressman Harold "Bizz" Johnson, who served in the U.S. Congress from 1958-1980, follows 24.5 miles of the old Fernley and Lassen Railroad right-of-way between Susanville and Mason Station, four miles north of Westwood. Much of the trail traverses the Susan River Canyon and is used as a hiking and equestrian trail in the summer and by cross-country skiers and snowmobilers during the winter. This was a Rails to Trails project, part of a national effort to transform old railroad rights-of-way into public use trails. Much volunteer labor went into construction of the trail; Mr. Bryant was a participant in that project which was completed in 1986.


4.125 Linear Feet (6 boxes, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



Jim Bryant began this collection because of an interest he had in the Fernley and Lassen Railroad, a branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad which ran from Fernley, Nevada, to the vicinity of Susanville, Lassen County, California. This research brought to his attention the lumber industry of northern California which was inextricably tied to the railroad. The collection includes are company and governmental records (partial), newspaper clippings, maps, photos, and research notes on logging and railroad companies of northeastern California.


Original order retained (alphabetically, principally by name of company).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Jim Bryant on April 9, 1991.

Separated Materials

Printed materials such as books and pamphlets were removed from the collection and transferred to the Special Collections Department book stacks; photocopies of the covers of these materials are included in the collection.

Photographs transferred to the Special Collection Department photo archives as collection number UNRS-P1993-06.

Guide to the Jim Bryant Papers
Susan Searcy
May 1991
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)