In those days logging was carried on in the Truckee River Canyon and the visitor would often have the pleasure of seeing logs “shoot the chutes” into the river, by which they were floated to the mills at Truckee. Here is a picture:
Tree, bush, and flower grow and blossom upon either side; and a little bird, with a throat like a thrush, warbles a canticle of exquisite musical modulations, so to speak. But the most stirring sight of all is the system of logging carried on by the mill companies. “Look! Quick!” ejaculates the driver; and your gaze is directed to a monster log that comes furiously dashing from the summit down a chute a thousand feet in length with twice the ordinary speed of a locomotive. So rapid is its descent that it leaves a trail of smoke behind it, and sometimes kindles a fire among the slivers along its way. Ah! it strikes the water! In an instant there is an inverted Niagara in the air, resplendent with prismatic and transparent veils of spray.
[Footnote 1: John Vance Cheney in Lippincott’s.]
The main portion of the canyon is walled in by abrupt acclivities, upon which majestic trees used to grow, but where now only the growth of the past twenty-five to fifty years is found, doing its best to hide the scars and wounds of the logging days.
The river, issuing from the Lake above, dashes down its wild way in resistless freedom. It is a rapid, all but savage stream, widening occasionally into sheltered pools exceedingly dark and deep. The bowlders in its channel, and those crowding down into it from its farther bank, cause it to eddy and foam with fierce but becoming pride.
A few miles from the Tavern we pass the scene of the Squaw Valley mining excitement where the two towns of Knoxville and Claraville arose as if by magic, tent cities of thousands of inhabitants, lured hither by a dream of gold, too soon to fade away, leaving nothing but distress behind.
Deer Park station suggests the leaving point for that charmingly picturesque resort, snuggling in the heart of Bear Canyon. Now we pass the masses of tuffaceous breccia that “Pap” Church, the old stage-driver used to call the Devil’s Pulpit, and the devil’s this and that or the other, until many a traveler would wish they were all with the devil.
This is a remnant of the vast mass of volcanic rock that in long ago prehistoric times was poured out in molten sheets over the region, and that formed the range we shall shortly see at the north end of the Lake—the Mount Pluto range. At some later period either earthquake convulsion started the break which ultimately eroded and disintegrated into the great gorge through which the railway has brought us, or grinding glacier cut the pathway for us.