Thunderbird Lake Tahoe
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Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company

The discovery of the fabulous Comstock Lode in 1859 was the greatest precious mineral discovery in modern times. Its development required massive amounts of timber to fuel the machinery, to stabilize the thousands of miles of square-set timbered stopes, and to build the mills, railroads and townsites.

In the summer of 1873, Walter Hobart, one of the Comstock’s first and youngest millionaires set about organizing a new lumber company to explore the “green” gold. He, along with partner Seneca “Sam” Marlette, established Sierra Nevada Wood Company a lumbering operation on the eastern side of the Carson Range in Little Valley. Their Excelsior Mill consisted of two steam saws. Marlette knew the lay of the land having served as Nevada’s first Surveyor General.

Logs from Bijou and vicinity were brought to Sand Harbor and loaded on the train to becarried to the Incline lumber mill, 1894Eventually Hobart’s timber empire would stretch to 65,000 acres along the eastern shore of the Tahoe Basin in the Carson Range which forms the eastern boundary of the Lake. Hobart’s acres embraced the entire mythical Ponderosa Ranch shown on the burning map which opened the 1960s television series, Bonanza.

In 1878 Hobart expanded the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company operations to Mill Creek (Incline Village) where he employed 150 French Canadian lumberjacks and 225 Chinese woodcutters. A profitable operation, the SNW&LCo. milled 75,000 board feet of lumber a day at the base of Incline Mountain. The settlement historically was known as Incline. It was declared a fourth-class post office and an election precinct in 1884.

Hobart made Captain John Bear Overton the company’s general manager. Overton was responsible for constructing the Great Incline Tramline in September 1880 at Mill Creek. The 4,000-foot long tramline, which gave the settlement its name, shuttled lumber to the top of Incline Mountain. The lumber was transported by a water channel along the granite crest ridgeline and then dumped into another V-shaped flume. It was then shot down to Lakeview Station, a poetic little whistle-stop in Washoe Valley. The lumber would then be transferred to the Virginia and Truckee Railroad on to Carson City and up to the Comstock — 22 miles of hairpin turns. The Great Incline Tramway was located on the site of the “Ponderosa Ranch”. Tunnel Creek Road still leads to the remains of the flumes.