“Tunnel 13” redwood pin lines
I was telling the story of the redwood pin lines material in the boards I build and my brother-in-law said, “Bro, you need to tell that story!” So, here goes. It’s really a story about the part of Oregon I live in and the railroad tunnels that connect Southern Oregon to Northern California. The original railroad line north in California and the railroad south in Oregon meet at the top of the Siskiyou Mountains near where Interstate 5 crosses over the mountains. The line was completed in the mid 1880’s and “Tunnel 13” is the one at the top of the pass. As the story goes, the shoring timbers for the tunnels were enormous 80′ long clear, vertical grain redwood timbers that were cut in Humboldt County in Northern California in the the early 1880’s. From that point the timbers were put on a steamship and shipped to Portland, Oregon and were then loaded on flatcars and sent south to the top of the Siskiyou grade where they were used to shore up the various tunnels, including “Tunnel 13”. So now the story gets really interesting. For approximately 40 years following the completion of the rail line, everything went fine at “Tunnel 13”. Then, in 1923, the three DeAutremont brother attempted to rob the train by stopping it at the mouth of “Tunnel 13” where they proceeded to blow up the mail car killing the mail clerk. The brothers also shot and killed both the conductor and engineer. The subsequent manhunt lasted four years and eventually all were caught and imprisoned. The attempted robbery was the last train “robbery” in North America.
In the late 1990’s the railroad abandoned the rail line over the Siskiyou Mountains since the tunnels were designed for older and narrower trains. When the trains stopped going through the tunnel the tunnel became a nice dry place for homeless people to live in and the homeless, with their campfires, caught the shoring timbers on fire. A few years later the railroad decided to rebuild the tunnel to wider specs for modern trains and all of the partially burned timbers were salvaged. At the time I was building cabinets for a new house project and the owner of the project knew the salvage contractor for the tunnel shoring timbers and we ended up building an outdoor kitchen out of “Tunnel 13” redwood. When the house with the outdoor kitchen made from “Tunnel 13” redwood was sold I was asked if I wanted all of the leftovers and well, that’s how my prototype hollow paddle and surfboards ended up having “Tunnel 13” redwood pin lines in them.