Biography of H. R. Lowell
Merced County, CA Biographies





H. R. LOWELL
A man of broad years of experience who is unusually fitted for his present position in the business world is H. R. Lowell, the capable and efficient general manager of the Yosemite Lumber Company, of Merced Falls. A native son, he was born at Sacramento, on September 8, 1876, the youngest of two children, and the only son of R. C. Lowell, a native of Portland, Maine. R. C. Lowell came with his parents across the plains in 1852 with a large train of covered wagons, and his father located in Sacramento, where he founded a tannery on Front Street and engaged in the hide and leather business for many years. He was succeeded by his son, R. C., the father of our subject, who married Miss Nettie Simpson. She was born in Marysville, the daughter of the late John Simpson, a Forty niner, who built the first toll bridge over the Yuba River on the Grass Valley road, where formerly he owned and operated a ferry boat. R. C. Lowell was a prominent Mason, and died in Arizona in 1903, survived by his widow and children. His home was later located at N, 0 and Eighteenth Streets, the old home being pulled down for business buildings, since it was in the heart of Sacramento. The tannery business founded by his father in the fifties is still in existence, a son in law, W. B. Sumner, having become the worthy successor. He is the present head of W. B. Sumner & Company, located at Third and Townsend Streets, San Francisco.

After taking advantage of the educational opportunities offered in the public schools of Sacramento, H. R. Lowell entered the employ of his uncle, W. B. Sumner, at Benicia, where for four years he was an apprentice to the tannery trade. The following two years he was foreman in the tanning department, and was then sent to the forests of Mendocino County in search of a supply of tan bark. He never returned to the tannery, for after his experience in the woods he became enthused over the prospects of becoming a logger, and, in adddition to his newly awakened ambitions, impaired health, due to the confining work in the tannery, made it imperative to give up his trade. Consequently he entered the employ of the C. N. W. Lumber Company, Ed. Middleton being the superintendent, and went into the woods and logging camp for one season. In 1900 he went to Scotia in the dense redwood forests, working as a logger; and then he was employed for three years by the California Timber Company as foreman at Boulder Creek, Santa Cruz County. He was given the position of logger superintendent for the McCloud Lumber Company at Siskiyou, and for the following six years had charge of the camps, employing as many as 600 men. The next six years he officiated as general superintendent of the Standard Lumber Company mills in Tuolumne County, and after three years as woods superintendent for the Yosemite Lumber Company he was made general manager of the company, taking up the responsibility of office in June, 1922, and has since resided at Merced Falls. Mr. Lowell is a pioneer in modern methods of lumbering, having gone forward steadily since his twenty fifth year, when he decided to make lumbering his business. He installed the initial incline railway for the handling of logs in the mountains from timber to mill, a new departure in the logging business which is destined to become the future method of the lumber trade in many of the present inaccessible places where virgin timber stands.

The company which Mr. Lowell serves is worthy of mention. The Yosemite Lumber Company, Inc., was founded in 1910, and opened the same year with a two band mill and resaw at Merced with two ten hour shifts and a capacity of 300,000 feet of lumber per day. Since that time the business has prospered, and more especially since Mr. Lowell was put in complete charge. Many improvements have followed, with the reinstallation of manufacturing machinery, the enlargement of all departments, and the employment of 1000 men. The general manager has a corps of assistants made up of able and experienced men, including a superintendent of mill and shipping, who also acts as assistant manager, one woods superintendent, three woods foremen, and so on, down to the track walker on their seventy five mile railway with two inclines. Thus, cooperation among the heads of all departments has been one of the most valuable assets with which the subject has built up this organization. The company, besides their own lands, buy timber from the federal government to the extent of eighty per cent of the standing timber, leaving twenty per cent of seed bearing trees for reforestation. The ground cut over is cleaned up and left in as good condition as possible. Sugar pine, white pine, white and red fir and cedar are the varieties cut, and these timbers are found in the mountains at an elevation of from 4500 to 7000 feet, in Mariposa and Tuolumne Counties. This mill owns standing timber conservatively estimated to be in excess of the amount of two billion feet, or, in other words, a supply of logs to run the mill over four decades. This is more timber than the required amount they cut, but the development of the modern sawmill and lumber yard is steadily advancing. Among the improvements in the sawmill will be the working of the carriages by electricity, making a saving of $1000 per month in hauling the saws. It is also planned to install new furnaces that will develop 1500 horsepower, using slabs for fuel. The present dry yards and kilns cover forty acres on the north side of the town of Merced Falls, which the company own, the 120 acres embracing the townsite. Six new kilns or dry houses will be built and a shed eighty feet wide and 800 feet long will be used for the storing of dry lumber. The storage capacity of the present plant is 40,000,000 feet, and it is frequently filled. The stored lumber supplies the retail yards in California from Sacramento City to Los Angeles, and forty such yards are operated. This business is subsidiary to the Charles Nelson Company, of San Francisco. A great deal of lumber leaves the Yosemite mills for export at tidewater and is reloaded from the railway cars to the Nelson boats at San Francisco, and from there sent to Australia, China, Japan and South Africa. The social side of life at Merced Falls is augmented by a company clubhouse, and the company expends $180,000 annually for provisions to feed the workmen, the best quality of foods being used.

The military record of Mr. Lowell bespeaks his loyal support to his country in times of war. He was a volunteer of the W. S. A., during the World War, and was qualified on examination by Colonel Du Bois, of the 20th United States Engineers, and received his commission as first lieutenant. He held himself in readiness to go with the A. E. F., on first call, but due to the Armistice was not called. He is now a reserve officer on the list of the Engineer Corps, Logging and Timber. In civil life Mr. Lowell has served as a deputy United States marshal in 1906, and was active during the emergency of the fire and earthquake at Redwood City, during the administration of Judge Buck. His political views are Democratic in principle. His affiliation with the Blue Lodge of Masons, No. 5, at Benicia, shows his status and character as a man worthy of recognition in the community. He makes his home with his mother, and together they are enjoying the opportunities which their native State, the Golden State, has in store.

From:
History of Merced County, California
With a Biographical Review
History by John Outcalt
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1925


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