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GPS *** N39' 40.542  W120' 14.552 *** Elev. 4955'


The earliest settlers arrived in the Loyalton area in the late 1850s, where they stopped in

the lush valley on their way to the Sacramento Valley. Founded in the 1850s as Smithneck, the

community had raised a great amount of money for the Union cause during the Civil War so the

name was changed to reflect union sympathies to Loyal (town). With the construction of the

transcontinental railroad, mail came in greater amounts, so in 1867 a postoffice opened.

Farming and dairy were the primary business, producing renowned cheese products. In the 1880s

timber became more important with five lumber mills in Loyalton, and several more in the vicinity.

With the completion of the Boca & Loyalton Railroad in 1901, the town incorporated to

support the lumber industry. Along with incorporation came the ability to outlaw certain

activities seen as detrimental to the industry work force such as alcohol consumption. For that

reason, city limits were pushed deep into the surrounding forests, making Loyalton one of the

largest cities in area in California (some 50 square miles) until the lines were finally redrawn in the

1930s to the modest one or less square mile city limits of today, and the largely

ignored liquor restrictions were lifted.

With the decline of gold mines, in 1915 the lumber industry experienced a slump and all of

the mills closed except Robert’s which moved across the valley. In 1917 Clover Valley Lumber

opened at the former Robert’s site. The mill operated under different ownerships until eventually

becoming Sierra Pacific Industries. Lumbering has always been an important aspect of the local

economy and culture. From logging camps and logging trains to timber transport by trucks, the

lumber industry witnessed many dramatic changes in timber production. By the 1990s much of the

lumber operation was automated, and a Cogen power plant was added.

Following WW II, the dairy industry was replaced by beef cattle on the surrounding

ranches. The last two dairies ceased operations in the 1950s.

Founded as a farming community and its economy boosted by a century of lumbering, it

has survived as the largest and only incorporated City within Sierra County.

Credo Quai Absurdum

Dedicated August 25, 2007

Major William Downie Chapter 1849

E Clampus Vitus


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