It was very apparent very quickly to the owners of mills up amd down the Mendocino Coast that chutes and wire loading were both extremely dangerous and slow. Far better was a pier that the schooners could tie up to and be loaded by crane.
The importance of the piers to the towns cannot be over-emphasized. The schooners that docked at the piers were the ONLY means of getting the lumber products out and supplies for the towns/settlements in from 1850 odd to the early 1920’s. Roads, either along the coast or inland simply did not exist and/or were very, very poor. Only Fort Bragg had a railroad that enabled supplies to come in and product to go out.
How busy were these piers? Read the piece below which appeared in the Fort Bragg Advocate of March 11th, 1911.
“The National City sailed from here [Fort Bragg] Thursday afternoon at 4 o’clock, she arrived at Cleone Friday morning and sailed Saturday afternoon with a cargo of ties. The Brunswick sailed Friday afternoon …… The steamer Fort Bragg arrived in port Sunday morning and sailed Tuesday afternoon for San Pedro with a cargo of 600,000 feet of lumber. ……. The Arctic arrived in port Sunday morning and sailed on Tuesday afternoon.”
Four schooners came and left Fort Bragg in four days! With that sort of turn around there is no question about they NEEDED those piers.
In Fort Bragg the pier was initially a relatively small structure – see picture right.
It was expanded until three sets of tracks and two cranes operated from it – see pictures left.
In the photo on the right, you can see an entire car load of lumber
being loaded fore and aft at the same time.
Because of the prevailing winds sailing schooners tied up on the north side of the Fort Bragg pier – see photo left.
Steam schooners tied up on the south side of the nearly 700 foot long pier – see the two pictures right.
This picture on left of the Fort Bragg pier, shows the ever present danger of the rocks and how shallow the water was even when the tide was high.
The next four photographs (click photo on right to see them all), show that at Fort Bragg ships could only tie up at the very end of the pier – the land rose too steeply out of the sea to allow two ships alongside at one time.
The piers elsewhere along the Mendocini Coast were built in exactly the same way as was Fort Braggs’ – see pictures left (click photo on left to see them all)..