Lumbering Operation


The Kings River Flume was a marvel of ingenuity. It spanned the deep rocky gorges and cliffs of Kings Canyon and was supported by numerous trestles. Two mills were constructed at Millwood for year round operation, one above the snow line named the Sequoia Mill and one below the snow line named the Abbott Mill. The huge trunks of felled Redwoods were hauled down to Millwood from Converse Basin first by teams of oxen, then by chutes, cable railroad and finally by a narrow gauge railroad connecting the various chutes. For this 2 mile long track, a gear driven locomotive was shipped to Sanger, dismantled, shipped up to the location and reassembled in the timber processing area for use.

A constant supply of water was made possible by the creation of the Sequoia Reservoir just a mile up from the Sequoia Mill. At the mills, the giant redwoods, firs and cedars were cut into manageable boards of lumber and sent down the flume for reception at the lumber yard in Sanger.

The operation of the flume was maintained by “flume herders” stationed at various locations along the flume’s route. These men were


given the responsibility of ensuring the steady flow of lumber and water throughout the flume’s length from Millwood to Sanger. These men occaisionally had to visually inspect the flume by boat, although this was considered extremely dangerous.

The operation was acquired by the Hume Bennett Lumber Company in 1905. At that time, the flume was extended an extra 17 miles and a dam was built further up into the mountains creating what is now Hume Lake. George Hume, son of the company’s owner Thomas Hume expanded the operation’s railway capacity.

This operation was designed for maximum productivity. Unfortunately, much of the timber that was felled was unusable since the sheer weight of the giant redwoods caused them to shatter. When the trunks were too large for shipping, holes were drilled with hand augers and filled with black powder. The results were just as devastating. Finally, a 90 foot circumference band saw replaced the blasting procedure, thereby eliminating much waste.