Mendocino County
Westport

Westport is as good a place as any to consider the way in which lumber was moved from the land to the sea.  Take a walk along the bluff and consider the challenge.  Test the temperature of the water, check the force of the prevailing wind, feel the damp on your skin from the mist, and consider the men and women who lived here and who milled the giant redwoods into boards and then passed them from the shore to the doghole schooner standing just off the rocks bouncing on the waves.

Westport

The oldest method used seems to have been to first load the lumber onto small box like lighters and float them out to the schooner and positioned using ropes.  The boards were then loaded by hand with a man standing on the lighter and handing each individual board up to the deck above.  Slow back-breaking work at best.

Westport

In the 1860s a chute was devised which permitted the lumber to be slid down to the waiting decks from various outcroppings of rock or high ground above a suitable doghole.  This turned out to permit more lumber to be loaded more rapidly but it also increased accidents from boards that moved down the chutes too rapidly.

Westport

In the 1880s coal burning steam schooners were introduced.  These slightly larger and considerably more powerful craft made maneuvering easier and permitted larger loads.  Because they did not have to depend on the winds for their power, regular scheduling became normal.  Because they had a deeper draft than their predecessors the method of loading them was altered.  A wire rope was strung from the land to the ship and used to transfer the lumber in appropriately sized bundles.  The first  design for this proceedure was known as the "St. Ores" wire.  It was developed by Will St. Ores and his brother in Gualala.  Still later steam was added through the introduction of a small "donkey" engine with rotating drums to the wire or "high line" and loading was made even more efficient.

Westport

Westport Landing was a site that at one time or another used every one of these methods to load timbers, lumber, tanbark, rails, ties, and shakes onto doghole schooners and their steam powered successors.  At it's zenith in 1880 the town of Westport boasted 400 permanent inhabitants, a post office, four stores, a hotel, two livery stables, and two saloons.

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