From Boca to Floriston: The area’s once-vibrant locales
[Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a three-part column on the once-busy communities between Truckee and Verdi, Nev. The column is guest written by Tom Macaulay, who is Truckee’s senior historian and has studied Truckee’s history, especially the ice industry, for many years. The final installment will be published on Friday, April 16.]
CAMP 16 This community, later named Pacific, was one mile below Prosser Creek and eight miles below Truckee, on the Central Pacific Railroad right of way. It was named by CPRR construction crews and was the site of Pacific Lumber Company, Nevada, and Mountain Lakes Ice Company, Pacific Shingle Co. and the terminus for some lumber flumes descending Prosser Creek. Nothing remains today.
BOCA This community was nine miles below Truckee, across the river on the left. It was the most famous town in the canyon. Named Camp 17 by CPRR construction crews, it was first a mill site for Friend and Terry Lumber Co. of Sacramento, then the Boca Mill and Ice Company, which became Sierra Lakes Ice Company and then The Union Ice Company. It boasted a large hotel, a school, stores, a library and fine residences. Natural ice harvests started in 1868 and lasted until 1927. Interstate 80 crosses the site of the Boca Brewery which operated from 1876 to 1893. Numerous broken foundations are still visible at Boca. The existing earth fill dam was built in 1940 by the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation. The residence of the water tender employed by U.S. Federal Watermaster to control river flow is below the dam. Boca was a post office from 1872 to 1945.
RODDYVILLE or “ROWDYVILLE” This community was located across the Truckee River from Boca, possibly near modern United Trails Campground. It does not show on maps and is only known from a few letters and oral references.
HINTON Maps show Hinton 10 miles below Truckee, and CPRR time tables list a stop 12 miles below Truckee. Twelve miles would place Hinton at Camp 19 and the CPRR may have used this designation before building the Hinton side track between Boca and Hirschdale. Foundations for the old Hinton bridge are visible at Hirschdale. Hinton was not a community.
HIRSCHDALE This modern bedroom community was downstream three highway miles from Boca on a short stretch of old Highway 40. Hirschdale was developed as a road stop in 1926 by Jonas Hirsch to serve traffic on Highway 40.
BURKHALTER and CLINTON Burkhalter is 10-plus miles below Truckee, and Clinton is 11 miles below town. A concrete highway bridge on old Highway 40 below Hirschdale that crosses the river, gives access to a small flat on the right, between the highway and the river, now private property. This is the site of Burkhalter’s Mill, used by Bragg & Folsom’s Pacific Wood and Lumber Co. The Clinton Narrow Gauge Railroad extended up Juniper Creek almost to Lake Tahoe. The town of Clinton was on the CPRR to the left of the highway immediately after crossing the river. The names are often used interchangeably. Clinton was a post office from 1891 to 1896. The concrete bridges were built in 1926, as part of Highway 40 through the canyon.
CAMP 19 One mile below Clinton and 12 miles below Truckee, Camp 19 was the site of the Marysville Mill in 1868. The actual site has not been located, but a log chute is visible on the slope across the river.
Interstate 80 below Boca gives a view of the Truckee canyon. Across the river can be seen an abandoned county road which gave access between Hirschdale and Iceland. This road was part of a detour during construction of Interstate 80.
ICELAND Thirteen miles below Truckee, Camp 20, also known as Cuba, is where Gray Creek enters the Truckee River. An old log crib dam can still be seen across the mouth of Gray Creek, first called Joe Gray Creek. Joe Gray, who helped found Truckee, built a lumber mill here and gave his name to the creek. In 1876 he leased his property to People’s Ice Company, of which he was part owner. Also operating here were Mountain Ice Company, Union Ice Company and Floriston Ice Company. Old ice pond walls are between the CPRR and the river. Iceland was a post office from 1897 to 1923. A new residence has been built on the old log pond.
TUNNEL 14 This tunnel between Iceland and Bronco was part of the original CPRR construction. It was abandoned when the railroad was double-tracked in the early 1900s. In the 1970s the railroad dynamited the tunnel to prevent vagrants from using it.
BRONCO or WICKES One mile below Iceland and 14 miles below Truckee is Bronco Creek, first called Alder Creek and then Wick’s or Wicke’s Creek before acquiring the modern name of Bronco Creek. Brothers Alexander M. and Lucius D. Wicks operated a wood yard here, complete with post office, store, telegraph station and residence. It was also used by Walter Hobart and, in 1892 by Kidder Brothers. It was a post office from 1872 to 1891.
FLORISTON This community is 15 miles below Truckee. It is the second most famous town on the river. First a CPRR section house, it was also the site of the Rocky Run Ice Company. The Floriston Ice Company was up river, between Floriston and Bronco. The Truckee River General Electric Company’s Farad diversion dam was built in 1899. The dam washed out in the flood of 1997, but the site is visible on the left side of the highway, across from the Floriston exit, as is the upper portion of the Farad flume. In 1900 the Floriston Pulp and Paper Company completed a paper mill on the right side of the river. Modern I-80 goes through the site of the mill but company houses can be seen on the hillside above the CPRR. The paper mill went through several changes in ownership Floriston Pulp and Paper Co., Crown Columbia Paper Co., Willamette Paper Co. and Crown Zellerbach Corp. and was finally closed in 1930. Lawsuits over pollution in the Truckee River were a constant problem for the paper mill and down stream water users. Crown Willamette Paper Co. moved its operations to Camas, Wash., in 1930. Very few personnel transfers were made, but some families from Floriston moved to Camas and found employment in the new mill, which still operates. The Floriston site was vacant except for a watchman until 1947, when Preston L. Wright of San Francisco purchased the property. On March 20, 1949, the Floriston hotel was destroyed by fire but the rest of the town survived. Houses were sold to private citizens and the area now has 42 homes and approximately 150 residents. There were several sites referred to as Floriston, but the present location has had a post office from 1900 until the present.
ROCKY RUN This ice company was located on the river at Floriston where the I-80 bridge crosses the Truckee River. The old ice pond wall can be seen between I-80 and the river, between the Farad diversion dam and the I-80 bridge.
On Friday we will complete the trip down the canyon.
Gordon Richards is the research historian for the Truckee Donner Historical Society. Comments, story ideas, guest articles and history information are always welcome. Visit the Truckee Donner Historical Society Web site at http://www.truckeehistory.tripod.com. The e-mail address is email@example.com. Leave a message at 582-0893
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