Lumbering Operation | History of the Flume

Sanger, California is a city rich in history. From its humble beginnings as a small farm town, Sanger's growth exploded in the late 1800's with the advent of its massive lumbering operation and the construction of The Kings River Flume. Running from the high elevations of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range of California down through the rocky canyons to the rail head in Sanger, the Kings River Flume was the largest of its kind in the world extending over 62 miles by the early 1900's. Built in just over a year, this flume was a tremendous undertaking and an astounding feat of engineering.

Designed and built by the The Kings River Lumber Company in 1890, the flume and accompanying lumbering operation was a Herculean effort with a simple design. The trunks of the felled giant redwood trees were hauled down to the mill, cut into manageable boards of lumber and then floated down through miles of flume to the lumber yard in Sanger. However ingenious this process was, the effects on the giant redwood forest was devastating. It is estimated that the operation felled over 8,000 giant redwood trees, all over 2,000 years old. Of those trees felled, only 23% actually made it to the mill.

The history of the flume and its accompanying lumbering operation is not only a tale of relentless entrepreneurial spirit but is also a grim account of the ravaging of the giant redwood forests. Ironically, this story also tells of the numerous financial setbacks which ravaged the giant lumbering company.

The flume and lumbering operation left behind many fallen redwoods shattered and rotting on the forest floor, but one tree still remains in the midst of the fallen giants, the Boole Tree. This tall and majestic Sequoia still stands in Converse Basin. Located nearby, in an area now known as Grant Grove, is the General Grant Tree known nationwide as the "nation's Christmas Tree". This massive redwood tree is an awesome 267 feet with a 33 foot diameter at the base. The age of this tree is estimated at being 3,500 years old making it one of the oldest living things on earth.

The flume exhibit at the Sanger Depot Museum shows a model of the flume and also a self explanatory pictorial display of the huge lumbering operation of that period and provides a bittersweet look at the reality of Sanger's history and the lumbering industry of which it was once so much a part.
 


to view the "Felling The Giants" video documentary
 

 

 

 


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