Sunday, December 13, 2009

Inyo Independent Log

Salt Tram history is rapidly disappearing, and we are striving to rediscover the efforts of our forefathers in order to give proper recognition to their hopes, dreams and abundant sweat from an era that is rapidly fading from our memories. We are actively seeking out information about the mining of Salt in Saline Valley between 1903 and the 1950's, including: documents, photos, articles, stories, artifacts, etc. If you can help us out, please email us at the address above - Thank-you! --Tim and Brian Waag, the Waag brothers (aka E. Clampus Waagus).
Caution (PLEASE READ): Climbing around on the tramway is dangerous because its really old and defnitely unsafe, so don't even think about it. Shoot, just getting to it requires some perilous hiking, and if you don't believe me, just take a look at the Zig Zag Access Trail (or what's left of it). Plus, climbing on it weakens it and endangers your life. Also, the Saline Valley Salt Tram is on the National Register of Historic Places and should be treated with the respect that it deserves. What little remains is of great historic value, and should not be disturbed in any way. Heck, its probably against the law to move parts of the tram around, and certainly a crime to take home some of the few bits of it that remain (though you'd have to ask your friendly local BLM agent for details). So please treat it with the respect it deserves, so that future generations can enjoy whats left, without you messing it up. Really. Please. You can see its listing on the National Register of Historic Places at these web links:
National Register of Historic Places 1          National Register of Historic Places 2

Brian, you take the Inyo Independent:
Sue and I will take the Inyo Register. Dates we have covered in the Inyo Independent: 1/28/1910 - 6/21/1912. First cover 6/21/1912 - end of 1916, then cover 1/1/1909 - 1/28/1910, then cover 1917 - 1932!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In the Inyo Independent, we have already covered 1/28/1910 - 6/21/1912 (note that there is a missing date that we didn't cover, but might be mixed in with the others 3/31/1911 – MISSING EDITION).


Inyo Independent, Independence, Calif. 
January 28, 1910 - FIRST DATE VIEWED
June 21, 1912 - LAST DATE VIEWED 

Note about “Around Town” column. This column appears to be in every edition of the paper, and we did NOT print every time that White Smith or other prominent characters to the Salt Tram story were mentioned. The appearance here is somewhat arbitrary, in that initially, we were very excited to see White Smith and others mentioned at all, then it become commonplace, then boring, even, and a bit tedious to keep printing this out when it didn’t really say much. For the times when we did print it out, it is listed in this index.

January 28, 1910 - FIRST DATE VIEWED

1/28/1910 – Around Town (Atty. White Smith of Bishop in town on legal business); Interesting note: In this particular issue, the column is NOT called “Around Town” like it is later.

4/29/1910 – Around Town (W. W. Yandell, White Smith in town from Bishop); Interesting note: In this particular issue, the column is NOT called “Around Town” like it is later.

4/29/1910 – Watterson vs. Owens River Canal Company lawsuit set for trial on 4/27/1910 (length: 1 long paragraph)

6/17/1910 – Around Town (T. G. Watterson, M. Q. Watterson, White Smith, Esq., P. W. Forbes and others, in town from Bishop)

8/26/1910 – Republican County convention, attended by N. J. Cooley, Geo. Watterson, G. A. Albright. W. L. Smith and others; Cooley and W. L. Smith mentioned elsewhere as being on an executive committee in adjacent column.

9/2/1910 – 3 articles of mild interest on this page. “Many Autos” (long 1 paragraph article on page 1 that discusses various local celebrities coming into Independence to meet the “Governor” – which I assume to mean the Governor of California, which according to Wikipedia, in 1911 was James Gillett – a Republican; among those meeting the Governor were Mr. & Mrs. W. H. Leffingwell, W. W. Watterson, Will Smith in the same car with W. A. Chalfant, famous photographer A. A. Forbes, W. W. Yandell and others). An adjacent article mentions the estate of Pat Reddy, a mining pioneer in nearby Darwin. Another adjacent article notes the grand opening of Big Pine Union High School in nearby Big Pine.

9/9/1910 - “Another Great Enterprise for Inyo: Eastern Capitalists To Develop the Greatest Salt Deposits In the Word – Work To Begin Immediately – Big Thing For Entire County”. Long, 10 paragraph, feature-length article on Page 1 about the Salt Tram, containing excellent data and detail re: the Salt Tram; discusses the pumping of Salt Brine in a 4 inch pipe over the Inyos (which they still called the White Mountains) instead of the tram.

9/23/1910 - 3 articles of interest in this edition.
“A NEW ROUTE FOR RAILROAD - Engineers Now Making a Survey to Run Railroad Through Mazourka Canyon. Summary: The Southern Pacific Railroad will probably be built through Mazourka Canyon [located just East of Independence and just North of Kearsarge] skirting the north edge of Saline Valley. Engineers are now at work making surveys of the proposed new route. [I don’t think this every happened?]

TO HAVE ELECTRIC LIGHTS: Within Forty Days Independence Will Have Streets and Houses Lighted by Electricity”. Feature length page 1 article with 4 paragraphs. Summary: Discusses completion of lighting for the streets of Independence “with electricity to be furnished by the Los Angeles Aquaduct”. The city agreed to furnish and maintain 2 [wow!] lights, with the citizens in attendance willing to supply and maintain at least 10 more. The lights will be 32 candle power. For street lighting, the city will charge $10 a year for each light. Supervisors also agreed to pay for 2 more lights for the courthouse yard outside the jail. Independence citizens have already put up $500 to run power lines into town. “The power will come from both Division Creek and Cottonwood Creek”. Citizens were left to negotiate the running of power to their individual homes. [wow!].

“PROPOSED NEW ROAD TO SALINE VALLEY”. Feature length article of 3 paragraphs. Summary: County board of supervisors to build a new road [was there an old road?] to serve the “mining properties” in that region. Also, “As soon as the Saline Valley salt works start building, which will be in the near future, they will need a road over which to haul the heavy machinery and pipe which it will be necessary for them to ship into that country.” Article does not indicate whether the they are talking about North Pass or South Pass, though I suspect North Pass, because that is the actual road that they used to transport Salt Tram building material to the Salt Lake, and I believe that South Pass was not built until much later? The road will cost about $1,500 if it can be shown that it will help that section “to the warrant the expenditure”. “There is little doubt that the supervisors will assist in building it”. Action on this item will be taken up again at the next meeting on October 3d.

10/7/1910 – Around Town (Supervisors Cooley and McBride in town for supervisor’s meeting)

10/28/1910 – Supervisor Cooley to Run – The Many Friends of N. J. Cooley Have Persuaded Him to Qualify for Another Term if Elected Nov. 8th (long 5 paragraph article on Cooley, he was Director and on the Finance and Executive Committee of the SVSC)

11/11/1910 – ad for buying stock in Saline Valley Salt – 1st notice – W. H. Leffingwell, Sales Agent for Owens Valley, Bishop, CA
11/18/1910 – ad for buying stock in Saline Valley Salt – 2bd notice – W. H. Leffingwell, Sales Agent for Owens Valley, Bishop, CA
11/25/1910 – ad for buying stock in Saline Valley Salt – last notice – W. H. Leffingwell, Sales Agent for Owens Valley, Bishop, CA

12/2/1910 – zip

12/9/1910 – Rev. S. S. Patterson performed marriage in Bishop

12/16/1910 – zip

12/23/1910 – (feature length article) To Build Line Down Valley – The Nevada-California Power Company Will Soon Begin Constructing New power Line Through Owens Valley (the Saline Valley Salt Company will be a big user of power); white smith in town; new highways – salt co.; $18 million in California highways – debate re: should Inyo lobby for some of it?

12/30/1910 – zip

1/20/1911 – White Smith in town& expects to begin building tramway shortly; W. H. Leffingwell mentioned

2/24/1911 – (feature length article) Saline Valley Salt Company to Start Immediately – Surveys for the Tramway of the Saline Valley Salt Compay to Start Next Week – Electric Road to Saline a Possibility; around town: White Smith in town

3/3/1911 – White Smith in town from Lone Pine via auto & left on the train for the north

3/24/1911 – Ned Smith came to Bishop to get pack animals to be used for salt tram survey, starting Weds in Owenyo

3/24/1911 – (feature length article) Saline Valley Salt Co. Survey Started (7 paragraphs). Summary: Preliminary surveys for the tram line started this week to determine the best route; at least 4 routes will be run to decide the most feasible route. With this start, Inyo will soon supply the world with a large portion ofher salt, the purest that has ever been found, and may give rise to other resource development in the county. The company is almost fully financed, with shares being sold to local Inyo residents, so that they can share in this enterprise that “cannot fail to be profitable”. The days of wondering whether they could finance the proposition are over, with many outside buyers being refused an opportunity to buy the last remaining shares, which were being reserved for the locals. Tramway expected to be running in October, 1911 [what a whopper!], as it will go up very quickly once the route is chosen; it will be built in “about” 6 sections [actually, 5 sections in the end]. Inyo county men stepped forward to undertake such a big project, and deserve to reap the benefits of their boldness. As it is being financially structured, control of the enterprise will be largely held locally [probably another huge lie] and the returns used to finance other large Inyo projects.


4/7/1911 – Will L. Smith, Bishop retail store advertisement (same Will Smith that is the salt tram “Secretary”? or the one that slit his throat?; believe that it is Will Smith of the Salt Tram)

4/21/1911 – (feature length article) Salt Co. Starts Operations [6 paragraphs]. Summary: Preliminary work in organization and financing is completed; route still needs to be chosen, but once it is, work will start in “ernest”. Leffingwell, Morton, Wickham (tram engineers) and assistants arrived from the north by train and headed out to look over the proposed routes. Camps have been “made” in the White Mountains to support picking out the best Salt Tram route. SVSC is gonna be huge, as there is always a good market for salt [yeah, but at what price?]. Inyo locals have invested heavily, and they are so conservative that they would never invest without thorough due diligence. The officers of the company are all locals and in high standing, and insures a business-like management for the stockholders.

4/21/1911 – (Around Town) Independence now has street lights. Main Street is now well lighted with electricity and reports state that in the near future that arc lights will be put on the back streets.[entire article, word for word]

4/28/11 – around town: White Smith of Bishop is looking after business matters in Independence

5/19/1911 – Will L. Smith, W. H. Leffingwell, and White Smith were in Independence the first week after a trip to the Saline Valley Salt fields.

5/26/1911 – zip

6/2/1911 – (shorter feature length article) Construction to Begin Soon (5 paragraphs). Summary: Actual construction will begin in mid July, 1911 and will be pushed as fast as possible; before fall the tram will be in “working order”. Wickham returned home to Trenton, New Jersey with all the data he needs to determine the best route for the tram, with construction to commence after route selection. Men are presently “running lines” on all routes, so that when the route is selected, the surveys would all have been completed and ready for construction. A good market for the salt has been found, so it is only a matter of waiting for the salt to be “delivered on this side”. All of the stock from the east that has not been sold has been called is, as the company is fully financed and “desires to sell no more”.

6/2/1911 – Around Town: W. W. Watterson and Mr. Johnson, representing the Deere Implement [unreadable word] made a trip down from Bishop by auto Weds.

6/2/1911 – Around Town: Mrs. White Smith and daughter Margaret have spent past week in Independence while Mr. Smith in San Francisco on business trip

6/2/1911 - List of Delinquent Purchasers of School Lands in Inyo County due 1/1/1911 – [not sure what this is, given that the newspaper date is 6/2/1911 and the so-called delinquent list is dated 1/1/1911, but will take at face value that this was some sort of sale of public lands to private investors, and that Will L. Smith, Elsle Watterson, and Eliabeth Watterson bought some, and at a point in time, 1/1/1911, their payments to the government entity that sold them the land were in delinquency]. Will L. Smith: principle paid $160; unpaid principal $640; interest paid $81.88; Elsle Watterson: principle paid $130; unpaid principal $520; interest paid $66.53; Elizabeth Watterson: principle paid $160; unpaid principal $640; interest paid $29.70.

6/9/1911 – Around Town: White smith came to bishop by auto; Will Smith passed through Independence on Salt Tram business

6/16/1911 – zip

6/23/1911 – (feature length article) “SALINE VALLEY SALT COMPANY, Telephone line Now Completed Between Swansea and Saline Valley – Tram Construction to Begin Soon (9 paragraphs). Summary: Much preliminary work has been done and work is progressing satisfactorily. A telephone line has been built from Swansea to Saline Valley and is in working order [if so, this would be amazing, unless work on the telephone and power line was begun much earlier; this is unlikely, however, as the power line / phone line route, which runs parallel to the Salt Tram – at least on the East side – which means that the route was already selected; from the Google Earth Photos, it would appear the timber-cleared path for the power lines is as wide as that of the Salt Tram, which is probably 50 feet or more; that’s a lot of tree clearing! Since Wickham – see below – is still working on the route, it is unlikely that the final power pole route has been completed; perhaps they just ran a long wire from Swansea to Saline Valley on the ground to serve as a temporary communication mechanism, which would be sorely needed during construction]; several stations along the route of the line have been connected and will save much time [wish I knew what this statement meant, as it is significant; assuming station refers to control stations, and perhaps the 6 circuits alluded to previously, which got reduced to 5 in the final design, are what is being referenced; the time saved may be the time saved due to one less station in the design layout]. A great part of the trail and road have been fixed and within a short time, all will be done. Wickham is still working on the best route. At a recent stockholder meeting, the following officers were elected: White Smith (President), T. G. Scales (VP), F. R. Smith (Treasurer), Directors: White Smith, N. J. Cooley, Will L. Smith, Geo. D. Ferrell, T. G. Scales, J. A. Goodman, E. E. Smith, F. R. Smith, W. W. Yandell, Finance and Executive Committee: Will L. Smith, N. J. Cooley, White Smith. Currently, about 30 men are doing preliminary work, with construction expected to begin 7/15/1911 [construction actually began 9/1/1911, about 1.5 months later than expected on this date]. Company is fully financed with no stock left on the market, although they are receiving many offers. The company is doing a great job in developing “one of the biggest enterprises in this country”.

6/23/1911 – Around Town: Fred Smith [brother of White Smith] of Bishop was at the county seat Weds. White Smith, president of the SVSC, came down to the county seat last evening and will spend several days here on business connected with the company.

6/30/1911 – A Sad Happening – Will Smith of Big Pine tried to slit his throat with a razor blade, but survived in critical injuries. Will L. Smith, the Salt Tram guy, lived in Bishop, so this must be a different Will Smith, though it does present an interesting saga to us, as it is reported several times in the II.

7/7/1911 – zip

7/14/1911 – Around Town: Will L. Smith of Bishop, was at the county seat Weds, ib gus way to Swansea, where he was going on business connected with the Saline Valley Salt Company.

7/14/1911 - General Expenses listing [assumedly for the county?]. Listings as follows: W. L. Smith, constable service [law enforcement?] $4.00; W. A. Chalfant, printing $200.85; W. L. Smith, constable service $52.45; W. L. Smith, supplies $4.50; W. L. Smith, supplies $6.50 [note that these selected listings wree among a large listing of suppliers – we selected just those names that we knew to be associated with the Salt Tram]; further on in the listing we find this under “Road Dist. No. 5” Resignation of W. L. Smith, Constable of the 2nd Township read, mition make and carried that action be deferred until next regular meeting.

7/21/1911 – Around Town: W. H. Leffingwell and W. L. Smith passed through Independence Monday on their way from Swansea to Bishop

7/21/1911 – Adjudged Insane – Will L. Smith Jr. of Big Pine, who cut his throat and also cut his wife badly… [once again, the Will L. Smith – of Bishop - of the Salt Tram is different from the Will L. Smith “Jr.” – of Big Pine – who slit his own throat as well as that of his wife, though it had us going for a while].

8/18/1911 – zip

9/1/1911 – (short article) Supplies Arriving for Tram. Article in full: Yesterday, the first of the supplies for building of the tram way of the SVSC arrived on the ground and work will begin immediately. The first shipment was mostly lumber, some machinery being included. From now on the rest will arrive as fast as possible and the men at the head of affairs will lose no time in pushing the work. At Swansea a house will be erected immediately for use of the company.[critical information – construction materials for the SVSC have arrived and work will commence immediately].

9/1/1911 – interesting article not related directly to the SVSC, except as it might pertain to Patterson’s diary, where he makes an entry “Voted Dry”. More Whiskey Cases: Warrants were sworn out in Bishop yesterday against … of Lone Pine, accused of selling liquor, contrary to county ordinance. [this confirms that Inyo County was dry at that time of the Patterson Diary entry – date?????????].

9/1/1911 – another interesting article not related directly to the SVSC at all: The Cyty quartz mill in the Funeral Range is expected to start crushing ore shortly. Source: Rhyolite Herald. [Cyty’s mill is located about 1 mile North of the cyanide workings of the Keane Wonder Mine in the Funeral mountains, and Cyty was a colorful figure of that era with a quick temper and an event quicker trigger finger, and had gunned down at least 2 mining rivals in various claims wars – not sure if these “murders” had occurred by this date].

9/1/1911 - Leffingwell, White & Will Smith & Cooley on way to Swansea for SVSC; White Smith and W. P. Teel came to Independence to be here for the decision of Watterson vs. Nevada-California Power Co.; Judgment Rendered in case of T. G. Watterson vs. Owens River Canal Co., after a trial in 1910 of 58 days where T. G. Watterson was awarded $10,273.96 and costs.
12/8/1911 – around town: White Smith, Will L. Smith and Ed Schober were on their way to Swansea. Beveridge Hunter mentioned in same “Around Town” column.

12/22/1911 – Wm. A. Gibson, who has a position with the Saline Valley Salt Company at Swansea, was in town for a few hours last Tuesday; Assessor W. W. Yandell at county capitol on county business

[Given that construction began on the Salt Tram with the arrival of construction materials on 9/1/1911, it seems odd that there are no entries in the Inyo Independent between 9/1/1911 and June 21, 1912 – we are hoping that there is more information in this time frame in the Inyo Register, which is a much more substantial paper].

3/15/1912 – Around Town: W. H. Leffingwell was in Independence a couple of days during the week. White Smith, Esq. Was in town during the first of the week [note that this is the first observed notation of White Smith with the “Esq.” Title after his name in the Inyo Independent].

5/10/1912 – Interesting article not directly related to the SVST, but of interest to us nonetheless, as follows: In 1870 the press was purchased by Chalfant & Parker and removed to Independence, Inyo County [assume they were talking about the physical printing press itself?], California, where they began publication of the Inyo Independent. And in the office of the Independent this old press stands today. I call it old because its history covers the whole of that of California under American rule, not because the old veteran is the least decrepit, or even battle-scarred. On the contrary, save the grime of ink and oil, it is today as bright and good, and apparently as little worn as the day it turned out the first number of the Dime Catcher [need to figure out what the term “Dime Catcher” means – perhaps a publication?] a half century ago. Of its class it is and ever was a superior piece of machinery, never seriously out of repair, always ready for duty and reliable – a veritable old civilizer and historian, telling its own story from day to day, and not ready to sum up, perhaps for a century to come. [It continues for multiple paragraphs to praise the apparently VERY OLD printing press – wonder if this press is still around, given that it apparently was built no later than 1820?].

5/31/1912 – Inyo Independent, Subscription $3 per year, Harry A. Glasscock, Editor and Proprietor


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