It was a tiny mill, judged by present-day standards, for in a fourteen-hour working day John Cardigan and his men could not cut more than twenty thousand feet of lumber. Nevertheless, when Cardigan looked at his mill, his great heart would swell with pride. Built on tidewater and at the mouth of a large slough in the waters of which he stored the logs his woods-crew cut and peeled for the bull-whackers to haul with ox-teams down a mile-long skid-road, vessels could come to Cardigan’s mill dock to load and lie safely in twenty feet of water at low tide. Also this dock was sufficiently far up the bay to be sheltered from the heavy seas that rolled in from Humboldt Bar, while the level land that stretched inland to the timber-line constituted the only logical townsite on the bay.
“Here,” said John Cardigan to himself exultingly when a long-drawn wail told him his circular saw was biting into the first redwood log to be milled since the world began, “I shall build a city and call it Sequoia. By to-morrow I shall have cut sufficient timber to make a start. First I shall build for my employees better homes than the rude shacks and tent-houses they now occupy; then I shall build myself a fine residence with six rooms, and the room that faces on the bay shall be the parlour. When I can afford it, I shall build a larger mill, employ more men, and build more houses. I shall encourage tradesmen to set up in business in Sequoia, and to my city I shall present a church and a schoolhouse. We shall have a volunteer fire department, and if God is good, I shall, at a later date, get out some long-length fir-timber and build a schooner to freight my lumber to market. And she shall have three masts instead of two, and carry half a million feet of lumber instead of two hundred thousand. First, however, I must build a steam tugboat to tow my schooner in and out over Humboldt Bar. And after that—ah, well! That is sufficient for the present.”
Thus did John Cardigan dream, and as he dreamed he worked. The city of Sequoia was born with the Argonaut’s six-room mansion of rough redwood boards and a dozen three-room cabins with lean-to kitchens; and the tradespeople came when John Cardigan, with something of the largeness of his own redwood trees, gave them ground and lumber in order to encourage the building of their enterprises. Also the dream of the schoolhouse and the church came true, as did the steam tugboat and the schooner with three masts. The mill was enlarged until it could cut forty thousand feet on a twelve-hour shift, and a planer and machines for making rustic siding and tongued-and-grooved flooring and ceiling were installed. More ox-teams appeared upon the skid-road, which was longer now; the cry of “Timber-r-r!” and the thunderous roar of a falling redwood grew fainter and fainter as the forest receded from the bay shore, and at last the whine of the saws silenced these sounds forever in Sequoia.