Mendocino Lumber Mill, taken from up river, after it was rebuilt from damage in the 1906 earthquake. Photograph shows the new smoke stacks made from riveted pipes that replaced the damaged stack. (Emery Escola, Emery Escola Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

August 8, 1907 – Iron workers, Edwin Graves and Charles Smith, of the Eureka Boiler Works arrived on the steamer Sea Foam to install twin smokestacks at the mill. The two 125-foot tall chimneys, 7 feet in diameter, were installed, painted, and ready for business in less than two weeks.

The previous smokestack, a 90-foot tall square chimney that was 14 feet wide at its base and constructed from over one million locally-made bricks, had collapsed during the earthquake of 1906.

Just two years later, the top section of one of the new metal smokestacks rusted off and fell through the roof of the boiler room. Joe Nichols barely escaped injury as he had been standing in the exact spot just moments before. He was alerted by soot falling down the smokestack and got out of the way just in time. The Beacon reported that salt air rusts metal very fast on the coast, but metal stacks on mills where the logs are taken from fresh water last for fifteen years or more. They concluded that when sawdust from logs taken from ocean water is burned under the boilers, the stacks were much more prone to rust.

Walking Tours of Historic Mendocino – Join our expert docents for a stroll and lively commentary. You’ll pass by early pioneer homes, historic meeting places, and buildings that make up the the Mendocino Historic District.