October 17, 2019
By Bill Pumford, Image from Russ Keller Collection
This week’s image is a photo of one of the Guernsey sawmills. Henry Allen Guernsey was born in 1844 in Pennsylvania and served in the Union Army during the Civil War. While living in Oregon Guernsey gained experience in logging and came to California in the early 1880’s to start a mill. Henry Guernsey was a well-known lumberman in San Bernardino and the local mountains. At various times he owned or leased property from Cajon Pass to Little Bear Valley. During the next four decades Guernsey built or leased mills in Little Bear Valley, Seely Flats, Huston Flats, and Dark Canyon (now known as Dart Canyon). Guernsey gained a reputation for quality work and his wood was used as lumber for construction, fruit boxes and furniture. However, the business of operating sawmills and lumber and box companies was not without occasional challenges. Fires in 1896 and 1900 destroyed or damaged some of Guernsey’s mills. The larger forest fire in 1911 (which damaged the incline railway) destroyed Guernsey’s home in Crestline but his mill in Dark Canyon was saved. In 1903 one of Guernsey’s workers by the name of Hans Pearson was severely injured by a broken chain in one of the mills and was eventually awarded $2000 by the courts. Henry Guernsey himself was badly injured when a load of lumber he was driving down the mountain overturned. Guernsey also went through a couple of insolvency hearings that he managed to survive. Sawmills and tracts of land were sold or leased between fellow lumbermen quite frequently. In 1905 a group of Redlands businessmen, headed by Arthur Gregory, purchased the San Bernardino Lumber & Box Company and some land in the mountains from Henry Guernsey for about $12,000. Henry Guernsey passed away in March of 1924 after what many would consider to be a life fully lived.