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Foothill Rails--The Camino Mill

The Camino Mill

    The El Dorado Lumber Company first built their planing mill and box factory in Camino in 1901. Their rough cut mill was located across the canyon at Pino Grande and a narrow guage railroad connected the two by way of a cable across the canyon. 1904 saw a standard guage shortline, the Placerville & Lake Tahoe, connect the mill to the Southern Pacific RR in Placerville. Ownership changed hands several times and became the Michigan-California Lumber Co in 1918. In 1928 Mich-Cal remodeled this mill. After a fire in 1949 swept away the south tower of the cable, the mill and drying kilns at Pino Grande were moved to the site at Camino. The new mill and pond occupied a portion of the old drying yards. Another change was the extension of the standard guage across Carson Rd to this new mill. Also at this point logging was switched to trucks as well and the narrow guage railroad largely removed in 1951.

    1986 saw the end of the Camino Placerville & Lake Tahoe railroad. Parts of the mill were torn down or fell into disuse. In 1994 ownership changed with the purchase by Sierra Pacific Industries. With many improvements, the site carried on turning out lumber but July 10th, 2009 saw the mill mothballed due to a huge downturn in home building sector.

    During a trip to Camino in April of 2009, I took some time to tour the older section of the mill and take many photos. Below you'll find the numbered images and a map of the mill complex. The map has been marked with numbers to match and arrows to indicate the direction of view in each photo. Note, the depot, wig-wam burner, monorail, box factory, planing mill and dressed lumber shed are now gone along with any railroads that were present.

    Late 2009 saw a huge cleanup of what remains of the older mill site.

see also Camino Sanborn Map
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10. 11. 12.
13. 14. 15.
16. 17. 18.

The Sawmill Demolition

A 2013 exploration revealed that the sawmill itself had been demolished sometime since the 2009 shutdown. This is the building seen at the top of the aerial shot, image 1. The sawmill can also be seen in image 2.

1. 2. 3. 4.
1. Modern Google Earth aerial image of the Camino mill complex.
2. Joe Robert Allen works the log pond at the new sawmill in Camino which replaced Pino Grande. Note this pond was later filled in. (Kathie Carden Collection)
3.-4. These two images are taken from approximately where the logs would enter the mill. Image 3 looks out across the former log pond, former drying yards.
Image 4 looks across what was once the sawmill itself.

5. 6. 7. 8.
5. This view looks back across the site from the opposite side. In both images 4 and 5, the board sorter building can be seen above on the hill.
6. Another view of the board sorter.
7. Other structures on the site. Note, there are still rails in the foreground pavement.
8. I believe this to be the shops building.

9. 10. 11.
9.-10. The huge rough dry shed along Carson Rd came down in 2014 Leaving only the powerplant, office and a couple sheds left on the south side of the road.
11. 2014 aerial view showing both the sawmill and rough dry shed missing. Shortly after this image, the concrete power house was also razed.


1. Interior of planing mill. (John Barnhill Collection)

YouTube Video, Bill Bell Sawyer 1950's, On the Job at Michigan California Lumber Co,

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