Towle from across the ravine


Towle, a mile east of Alta, was the site of extensive lumber-mill operations and connection to the Towle Brothers logging railroad. The first Towle Brothers mill in the immediate area was located in Dutch Flat. The company initially sold lumber for area mines. In the 1860’s they began selling timbers to the Central Pacific Railroad for trestles, ties and snowsheds.

In 1875, Towle Brothers began building their narrow-gauge logging railroad to deliver lumber from their expanding network of remote sites to the Central Pacific tracks near their Canyon Creek mill. Eventually over 30 miles of logging railroad were built, following Canyon Creek east (now Interstate 80 near Baxter), then dropping down to and crossing the Bear River, reaching nearly to present-day Hwy 20 near Skillman campground. In 1882, the company moved their headquarters to Towle’s Station.

The Towle site included an extensive planing mill, lumber storage yard, the first pulp mill in the western region, and a factory for making wooden box parts for fruit packing. The fruit boxes or shooks were shipped unassembled to facilities in Sacramento. The pulp mill was located on the hillside below the CPRR tracks, and utilized an ingenious system powered by water from Canyon Creek to grind the wood into pulp and carry the product back up the hill to be loaded on railroad cars. A water-powered dynamo generated electricity for the town. The company also processed waste sawdust into a fine powder that was used in the making of dynamite.

Towle in the 1890’s included a three-story hotel, company store, station, school, more than 30 dwellings, and numerous other buildings. Towle Brothers sold their operations to Read Lumber in 1902, and the town of Towle began its slow decline. Freeway construction in the 1950’s cut into part of the site. Today nothing remains of the town other than old photos and memories.

Towle Station