Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Charles William (C. W.) Hayes and his Moreland Motor Trucks

Little is left of the Salt Tram and its diggin's. The Waag Bros. are actively seeking out information about the Saline Valley Salt Tram and the Salt Mine between 1903 and the 1960's, including: documents, photos, articles, stories, artifacts, etc. If you can help us out, please email us at the address above - Thank-you!  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  • Inyo County Places of Importance

*****QUESTION 1:  Speak to Cleo, Bob or Bill Hayes (grandchildren of Salt Trucker C. W. Hayes) and find out what they remember of their grandfather's trucking business, especially as it pertains to the Salt Tram.

*****QUESTION 2:  Where did Charles William Hayes live during the time he trucked salt for George Russell? (Bakersfield?) Where was C. W.'s trucking business, how many trucks did he have, how many Moreland 3 axle, 6 tire, dual rear-axle 4 wheel drive trucks did he own, how did he know and make contact with the Sierra Salt Co.'s George Russell or White Smith?

*****QUESTION 3: Find out if the Eastern California Museum already have a copy of the blue Sierra Salt Co. brochure below (and do we have a copy?) or do we need to get a copy of this document from Bob D? The ECM has a copy, but is missing page 12 and 13, which Bob D. has supplied to me and that I will supply to ECM! Thanks, Bob. Supply the ECM with page 12 and 13 to complete their booklet.

*****QUESTION 4: Does the showroom in Bakersfield California on Chester Avenue (the photo showing Charles Wesley Hayes standing with a Moreland Truck out in front of the Moreland Bakersfield showroom - photo below on this web posting) still exists?
Above: Pioneer trucker C. W. Hayes behind the wheel of the mighty Moreland Motor Truck TX-6 10-ton 4 wheel drive truck. C. W. hauled the first load of Salt trucked out of Saline Valley on June 15, 1926. Note that behind the tree to the right, you can barely make out the words "Lone Pine Garage".
Above: The Sierra Salt Co. printed the blue-covered pamphlet above around June 15, 1926, and it contains 20 pages. The driver of the Moreland Truck is C. W. Hayes. The person on top of the salt at left is Cyril G. Hayes  (son of C. W. Hayes) and the person at right is Charles Hulin Hayes (son of C. W. Hayes). The Eastern California Museum has a copy of this brochure, but it is missing page 12 and 13, but we got those pages from Bob D. The Eastern California Museum already had the truck photo shown above, which was located in the blue Sierra Salt brochure (page 12). However, what is new is the caption below the photo, which indicates that the first load of salt trucked of Saline in 1926 was sold to the City Market in Bishop, Calif., which explains what the trucks were doing parked in Bishop; however, we are not sure why the truck was posed for photos in front of the Watterman Bank. 

Note that "City Market" in Bishop, Calif. was owned by none other than Phillip Keough, the owner of Keough Hot Springs. Though Keough bought the Hot Springs in 1919, it hit its heyday in the 1920's and 1930's as a resort and spa. Though more quaint than fashionable, it is still open to this day!

*****Pre-Introduction: Before reading this post, we recommend that you read the section on the San Lucas Canyon Road by clicking here - if you haven't done so already. For all photos below - click to enlarge (you'll be glad you did!).

*****Introduction: In the early to mid 1920's, George Russell, President of the Sierra Salt Co., was desperate to save his failing Salt Mining operation that he had taken over as President from White Smith. He saw that the operation of the Salt Tram may have been too expensive to make a profit, but that the pure salt just waiting to be picked up off the Saline Valley floor was still a valuable commodity. He was certain that with the advancement of over-the-road trucking, the salt must surely be able to be trucked out of Saline Valley with less cost than the operation of the massive tramway. If they could find a short route to run trucks out of Saline Valley that avoided the long road out via North Pass, maybe they could start making some money with this operation, after suffering through business losses in the salt mining industry for so many decades.

*****New Information: We recently found documents indicating that George Russell opened the San Lucas Canyon Road to truck out Saline Valley Salt merely as a clever scheme to get the Steel Company to sell the Salt Tram to Sierra Salt at a steep discount. Mr. Russell and White Smith believed that using the Moreland 4 wheel drive trucks to transport Salt out of Saline Valley would diminish the value of the tramway, thus lowering the price during future negotiations to buy it back! I was happy to hear this news, because after looking firsthand at nightmare that was the San Lucas Canyon Road, it was clear  to me that this was a bad idea and an easy way to lose money. The San Lucas Canyon Road was used merely as a pawn in the game to retrieve ownership of their beloved Salt Tram.

*****Witness the Birth of the San Lucas Canyon Road: George Russell convinced the Inyo County Board of Supervisors that an efficient trucking road needed to be built to economically access the various mining operations in Saline Valley, including the Sierra Salt Company's Salt Lake. Serious route evaluation resulted in the selection of San Lucas Canyon road as the shortest route out of Saline Valley where it was possible to build a road.

Just one problem: a short section of narrows presented a road construction nightmare to any potential road builders. Sierra Salt partnered with Inyo County anyways, and took 2 years to build the San Lucas Canyon road. A handful of photos exist that demonstrate the difficulties encountered in building the road. No doubt, it took longer to build than expected, and cost more money. But they did build it! Now they would need some really tough trucks to haul the loads of salt up San Lucas Canyon and over to the Salt Tram terminus.
Above: rare photo of the construction of the San Lucas Canyon Road. Yes, they built it largely by hand with picks and shovels, as seen in this photo. Photo courtesy Eastern California Museum, Independence, California.
Above: I was intrigued by the unidentified yet well-dressed man in the above photo. In addition, he appeared to be carrying a few interesting items, so I thought I'd go in for a closer view. It turns out that he is carrying what appears to be a tripod in his right hand and a camera in his left! Perhaps too well dressed for a road construction supervisor, but not overly dressed for a hip photographer out in Saline Valley trying to make a name for himself?

*****Enter professional trucker Charles Wesley (C. W.) Hayes: George Russell initially contracted with trucker C. W. Hayes (of Bakersfield) to move the first bagged loads of salt out of Saline Valley. The initial photos of this effort show trucks with the name "C. W. Hayes" stenciled above the driver and passenger door of his innovative 6-wheel Moreland Motor Trucks. Later photos of Moreland Motor Trucks used to move the salt give no indication that they were owned or operated by Mr. Hayes. That is, there are no drivers that look like C. W. and no Moreland Motor Trucks that are marked with the C. W. Hayes name in the later photos.
Above: photo from Bob D. of Bakersfield, showing Charles Wesley Hayes at Moreland Motor Truck Factory Showroom in Bakersfield California. The truck shown in the photo does not appear to be a new truck - among other things, the name C. W. Hayes is stenciled above the door, and it appears to be somewhat worn. Since C. W.'s trucking business was in Bakersfield, as was this Moreland showroom and service center, it is likely that C. W. was there to have his truck serviced or to pick up parts.

*****Tough Moreland Motor Trucks: After having hiked most of the rugged and steep San Lucas Canyon road, we could not figure out how the heavily loaded Moreland trucks could possible make it up the canyon grade with such a heavy load. Remember, they were hauling the salt up and out of Saline Valley, then were driving the trucks downhill (light and empty) to go back for more. From some of the Moreland truck photos, it was clear that they were not 4 wheel drive - or more specifically, that the front axles did not have a differential. We would later learn from Bob D. that the Moreland trucks had an ingenious 4 wheel drive system that drove both of the rear axles. Back in the 1920's when Moreland invented his Model S-X 6-wheel trucks, many freight auto roads were still dirt, and traction was still an issue. Take a close look at the rear axle of the truck from the Moreland brochure below.
Above: Illustration of the Moreland S-X truck and its unique 4 wheel drive system that drove both rear axles. Image courtesy of Bob D. of Bakersfield, Calif.
Above: White Smith (standing on the street at left - all suited up) with pioneer trucker C. W. Hayes (standing on the street on right); person at left on top of sacks of salt is believed to be Charles Hulin Hayes (son of C. W. Hayes), and person on right at top of sacks of salt is believed to be Cyril G. Hayes (son of C. W. Hayes).  Photo shows the first load of salt trucked out of Saline Valley on board a Moreland Motor Truck. Photo courtesy Eastern California Museum, Independence, California. Note the C. W. Hayes name above the passenger cab. Liz Babcock of the Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest, Calif. identifies this photo as being taken in front of the infamous Watterson Bank building in Bishop, Calif. on the corner of Main and Academy streets, (thanks, Liz!).  It was later demolished in an unspecified year.
Above: How did these Moreland trucks haul 10-ton loads of salt up the impossibly rugged San Lucas Canyon road? They didn't have driven front axles, but they did have driven twin rear axles with solid rubber wheels to get them up these crazy steep grades like the one above. Photo courtesy Eastern California Museum, Independence, California. Note that the historic photos of the Moreland trucks shown driving along the San Lucas Canyon narrows do not have the C. W. Hayes named painted on them.

*****Many thanks to Bob D. of  Bakersfield, California for finding this Salt Tram website and contacting us. Bob's wife's great grandfather was none other than pioneer trucker C. W. Hayes. Yes, the same C. W. Hayes whose name is stenciled on the side of the truck that moved that first load of salt out of Saline over the San Lucas Canyon Road. The same C. W. Hayes who is standing next to Saline Valley Salt Company founder White Smith in Lone Pine after he drove the first salt load out. Bob pointed out which person in the photos was C. W. Hayes.
Above: Image of a Moreland Motor Truck loaded with grain (not Salt!). However, the text indicates that C. W. used the Moreland trucks to haul salt out of Saline Valley on grades as steep as 15%. C. W. considered the Moreland 10-ton (20,000 pound load capacity) 4 wheel drive truck to be a "wonder truck" and the best truck that he ever operated. Photo by the Dorman Brothers Photography.

*****A Brief History of Moreland Motor Truck Company: 
The Moreland Motor Truck Company of Burbank, California was originally located in Los Angeles. The Moreland trucks were sold worldwide. In 1917 Watt L. Moreland was planning to move his business to Alhambra, California. When Burbank city officials heard about this news they offered Moreland 25 acres of land for free, located on the corner of San Fernando Blvd. and Alameda Ave. The city of Burbank raised $25,000 to pay for the land, buildings were constructed and the truck company moved in. The factory was still surrounded by acres of farms at that time. 

Above: Photo of rear axles of Moreland 10-ton 6-wheel truck, including unique single spring pack to service the 2 rear axles.

At the opening of the new factory in 1920 Watt Moreland wrote:
"As I look back to the little old shack where the first Morelands were built, all the way it has been a story of co-operation and I want with all the strength and emphasis possible express my appreciation and thanks to all those who, by their encouragement, their faithful work and interest, have helped to put this organisation where it now stands."
Above:  Interior of the Moreland machine shop. 250 employees worked in the machine shop. 10 x 8 inch black and white photograph. Photo Courtesy Burbank Historical Society.

Moreland had branches in Los Angeles, San Diego, Bakersfield, Stockland, Oakland, Portland, Santa Ana, Fresno, El Centro, Sacramento, San Francisco, Spokane and Salt Lake City. The company slogan was "Built in the West -- for Western Work". 
Above: Moreland Motor Truck factory after the operation was moved from Los Angeles to Burbank in 1924. Photos show that at that time it was still surrounded only by farms and ranches.

Due to wartime shortages the plant had to close in 1940. Virtually unknown today outside of the small fraternity of antique truck enthusiasts, the Moreland Motor Truck Company of Burbank, California was a technical innovator along with West Coast truck firms Fageol, Kenworth and Kleiber in the first half of the last century. The big Moreland TX6 featured a twin axle bogey rear suspension (nice name!). The system was originally developed in 1924 for a massive 60 passenger double-decker bus and, although one prototype was built, it proved too expensive for frugal bus company operators and never reached production. 
Above: Details of the 10-ton Moreland Truck rear suspension, from “Automotive Industries”, February 19, 1925.

The design was not abandoned, and it worked great in the trucks used to haul out salt through San Lucas Canyon. The double-decker bus design was adopted to the heavyweight 1925 TX6. Moreland claimed to be the first in the industry to design, build and sell 3 axles, 6 wheel, 4 wheel drive trucks. The details of their system were certainly unique, but fellow Golden State manufacturer Fageol began producing a similar three axle truck at about the same time.
Above: Moreland sales brochures explain one aspect of the operation of the rear axles - when running over a fixed object, such as a rock, the frame of the truck only rises half as high as if it only had a single rear wheel. This was a convenient feature for trucks that often moved goods over rocky dirt roads.

*****Hayes Family geneology: Charles Wesley Hayes (born May 7, 1885, died October 4, 1977) had a son named Charles Hulin Hayes, who was also a truck driver. Both father and son  have since passed, but Charles Hulin's 2 sons, Bob and Bill Hayes, are still walking the planet, as well as his daughter Cleo. More details: My research shows that Charles Hulin has 2 sons and a daughter: son Charles W. (William? Bill?) Hayes of Denver, Colorado, son and daughter-in-law, Robert H. (Bob?) and Dora Hayes of San Antonio, Texas;  and daughter and son-in-law, Cleo A. and Warren Brackett of Bakersfield.
Above: Memorial for Bakersfield trucking Pioneer Charles W. Hayes. Courtesy of Bob D. of Bakersfield.


  1. Hello, My name is Bob D., from Bakersfield Ca., i saw your website about the saline valley and thought you may be interested in a couple of pics i have of C.W. Hayes (Charles William Hayes), he is my wifes great grandfather, the same one in the pics on your website. These pics were handed down to me long ago. Of course he has passed on, so has his son Charles Hulin Hayes, who was a truck driver too, but his two grandsons are still living (Bill and Bob Hayes, as his granddaughter Cleo who is my mother in law.
    As you can see in the pics there is an article attesting to the fact that a Moreland truck he owned was better than he had anticipated and called it a "wonder truck". I have a bunch of original sales brochures too.
    See the attachment for the pic and story.

  2. Hello Tim and Brian,
    I think what they meant by 4 wheel drive is that all four rear wheels are driven see the pic from the brochure i have, also he's the one driving in the first pic, and he's standing next to the man in the suit in the next pic.


  3. Hello Tim, Thanks for the pics you sent, i made a little mistake though its Charles Wesley Hayes, Charles William Hayes is his grandson and he just turned 80. C.W. lived 5-7-1885 to 10-4-1977, i sent a couple more pics from the brochure i have showing the rear axle design, one of them is the same pic you have but in a different article. Im going to mother in laws asap to see if she has more pics i remember seeing all kinds of them a long time ago.
    Take care,

  4. Hi, Tim —

    You can find the first picture fairly readily online: the url brings you to a page that labels it as "the infamous
    Watterson Bank" and says it was located on the northwest corner of Main and Academy Streets in Bishop. The picture is labeled as having been taken in 1926. The Wattersons appear to have an interesting history as rabble-rousers in the Owens Valley in the wake of construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Hope this helps!

    Liz B.

    1. The web site also gets it wrong and says the C. W. Hayes truck was carrying sacks of COAL, but it was actually carrying bags of Salt from Saline Valley that was trucked out of Saline Valley via San Lucas Canyon on one of the craziest roads ever built!

  5. Tim, thanks for keeping me in the loop i'm going to mother in laws house today to find more pics, she told me the other day that her dad (charles hulin hayes) also drove that same truck from time to time and a couple of his brothers did too, they worked for C.W. once in a while im thinking they may be the other men in the pics you sent i'll find out.

  6. Tim, i found this booklet today, tells all about the saline valley project, do you have it? if not i can copy and send it, i enclosed a copy of the cover and a couple of pages, one pic just happens to be the same one you sent.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. I'm just wondering if the truck in the picture with the caption on the photo-San Lucas Canyon Road-just before the falls 1928-1930 is an International rather than a Moreland.

  8. On Jan 22, 2016, at 11:20 AM, John Hayes wrote:

    Hi Tim:

    My name is John HAYES. I'm Charles Hayes youngest grandson. Anyway sometime I would like to talk to you about the mine and tram. I live in Tehachapi and would like to get a little info from you. When i was a kid 5-7 years old my dad took me out there a couple of times. I plan on returning, but want to prepare a bit info wise. The building that housed Moreland trucks in Bakersfield is still there. I toured it a couple months ago. It is a auto paint store now. The tenant allowed me to take a few pictures. I would think it should be a "historical" bldg, but I don't think it is.

    Charles Hayes is my role model. He was a great man. He lost a lot of money on the mining/trucking deal (I don't know all the details) but he didn't go bankrupt and he paid all his debts.

    Call or email me sometime. I would love to talk to you. I recall a few things my dad told me.

    A part of California history.

    Best Regards,