As previously noted, logging in the 1930s and 1940s in eastern Eagle County was done in rough terrain at a high altitude. Horses and skids were used to move trimmed logs to the point where tractors could take over. The logs then went to the mills for trimming. Moving trimmed timbers to the railroad for transport in steep areas was difficult. At Peterson Gulch, this was accomplished by a surface tram. Rails (about .25 the size of railroad rails) carried two cars using cables on which timbers could be guided from the top to the bottom of the gulch.
The remains of the Peterson Creek gulch tram are visible in the Beck Family photo above as a line cleared of timber running from the top of the photo to midfield. The shot was taken from the Champion Mine at Bell’s Camp, across the Eagle River. Some remnants of mine structures are present in the foreground and left side. Due to the camera angle, the terminus of the tram and the railroad pickup point are hidden from view. It does document the terrain in the Eagle River Canyon which can certainly be described as “rough.” To our knowledge, this was the only Peterson Creek tram photo in the Eagle County Historical Society’s collection. Peterson Creek flows into the Eagle River in the Eagle River Canyon about .5 mi. from Red Cliff and 1 mi. from Belden. Belden is the site below the Gilman Mine where trains stopped to load ore from the mines and where stamp mills were located at the turn of the century.
Belden as seen from Gilman. On the left are the loading tippel, steam room and dryer. Loading tippel is extended over the railroad cars to be filled with ore. A surface tram carrying ore ready for loading is visible behind the loading tippel.
Imagine my surprise when I was cataloging the photos for 1999 to find the photo below. It had been mislabeled as Belden which is close by (mile post 296), but is actually the Peterson Creek tram and the Eagle Lumber Co. railroad shed (mile post 295) and siding. The timbers were sent down the surface tram running down the gulch in this photo and then loaded on train cars. There is another set of main line tracks across the Eagle River which flows at the bottom of the photo. The small building at the right is the tram house. Above that, there is a small structure that appears to be the house for a bucket tram, carrying ore across the river from the Champion Mine. The large building at center may have been housing for workers.
The tenacity and ingenuity of lumber men to log this area was remarkable, contributing a great deal to both the lumber industry and mine stope construction in the Battle Mountain region. [My thanks to Ernie, Len, and Ed Dumph and to Bob Warren (Warren Brothers logging) for photo identification and great conversations.]