The Gantry Crane

Train tracks running through lumber yard with stacks of lumber on both sides of tracks. A rail car and crane can be seen in background
View looking northwestward showing the Company lumberyard, located on the north side of Big River flat. The gantry crane at the end of the rails was used to move the stacks of lumber around within the lumberyard. The rails ran out from the mill (behind the camera), through the lumberyard to the Incline behind the crane. Loaded railcars were pulled by a hoisting engine to the top of the bluffs and then moved out to the Shipping Point. (Gift of Dot Johnson)

August 19, 1922 – The Mendocino Mill shut down for a week so that the mill workers could make changes to the rail track running from the mill to the foot of the incline on the flat. The changes were necessary to accommodate the gantry crane that the Mendocino Lumber Company had purchased from a San Francisco shipyard.

According to the Beacon, the existing track was “taken up and the whole roadbed elevated several feet for quite a long distance.” Tracks for the existing rail cars were then relaid, and the mill reopened. The big crane, which was powered by electricity, was expected to arrive by truck from Fort Bragg. “Rails for the crane are to be laid outside the car tracks on either side and the cars will run beneath the crane.”

The crane “will take the lumber directly from these cars and pile it in the new yard being established at the flat, where it will be ready to be reloaded by the same crane on short notice for steamer shipment.” This labor-saving machinery greatly increased the capacity of the Mendocino Lumber Company.

In January 1944, the Beacon reported that, “the big gantry crane on the flat near the mill has been purchased by the California Steel Corporation of Richmond and is being dismantled this week by Warren Daniels and his crew of workmen. Some 20 years or more this crane handled the lumber at the yard on the flat and was put together there by C. L. Larsen. Mr. Larsen stated to us that the big steel frame was all riveted by hand at that time. The crane will be shipped to Richmond by truck and reassembled there.”

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.