El Dorado County's logging railroad history includes the Diamond and Caldor Railway which carried logs and lumber from Caldor, in the region of Grizzly Flat, to the mill in Diamond Springs. The California Door Company built the mill in 1901 and constructed the railway line. The railroad was abandoned in 1952 and the tracks dismantled. Historical remains from the Caldor logging days still exist in the Eldorado National Forest with the railroad logging system still visible.
The Diamond and Caldor Railroad ran the eastern end of the narrow gauge tracks near the town of Caldor (built by the California Door Company) with a mill located on Dogtown Creek, a tributary of the Cosumnes River. The California Door Company brought in the Shay Locomotive No. 4, built in 1907 by the Lima Locomotive Works in Ohio. The Shay hauled lumber between Diamond Springs and the Caldor Mill for 46 years.
Caldor was a small, but important town near Grizzly Flats. Along the route, a total of 63 trestles were needed, including one 97 feet in length made of steel. In October of 1904, nearly $400,000 and 18 months later, the rails were completed. In 1953, since most of the logs were being brought from Caldor by truck, the company decided to remove the tracks and sell the railroad equipment.
The old sawmill at Caldor is a ghost town today, located 30 miles southeast of Diamond Springs.
Length of Byway or Route
Varies - The road from Grizzly Flat to Caldor is 7.6 miles. There is a network of railroad grades and trails, many of which dead end.
To get to the Caldor area, take Pleasant Valley Rd east to Bucks Bar Rd, to Grizzly Flat Rd. Take it to Grizzly Flat and take Leoni Rd to where it intersects with North South Rd. This is the where the Caldor Mill was located. The network of railroad grades is located throughout this area. Refer to the map. To return to Grizzly Flat Rd, take the Caldor Rd west near the intersection of North South Rd and Leoni Rd. This dirt road follows the main line of the Diamond and Caldor Railway and will take you back to Coles Station, about 2 miles west of the town of Grizzly Flat. See directions to specific trails or features with the Key Points Along the Route.
Many of the roads are dirt and at least 20 miles from any services. Please use caution and common sense as they are subject to variable forest conditions.
Highlights and Key Points Along the Route
1. Caldor Mill: The sawmill located at the intersection of North South Rd and Leoni Rd burned in 1923 and was not replaced. Instead, logs were hauled by railroad to the mill in Diamond Springs. After the fire there was a logging camp, a CCC camp and a small ranger station at the site.
2. Main Line of the Diamond and Caldor Railway: It ran between the sawmill at Caldor to Diamond Springs along approximately 32 miles. The dirt road follows the original railroad line.
3. Trestle Trail: A foot trail that follows the railroad grade 1 1/4 miles south to the site of the main bridge over Steely Fork Creek. Take the paved Capps Crossing Rd from Grizzly Flat or from the North South Rd, and turn south onto dirt road #9N36. Go about 1/2 mile staying to the right to the parking area.
4. Myers Tank Railroad Grade: A 1/2 mile long trail on original railroad grade with ties which ends at Simpson Logging Camp, one of the earliest logging camps in the Caldor operation. Take the North South Rd and turn east on dirt road #9N38 and go 1/2 mile to the parking area on the left side of the road.
5. Twin Gulch Railroad Grade: A two mile trail on original grade with ties in place that descends to the Cosumnes River. Take the dirt Twin Gulch Rd #9N40.2 east from North South Rd, turn right onto 9N39, then bear left on 9N39B. Park at the clearing at the end of 9N39B and continue east onto the old railroad grade.
6. Big Mountain Grades: These railroad spur lines have changed very little since being converted to dirt roads. Early logging ramins can be spotteed along the rugged narrow grades. Take North South Rd south from Caldor and turn right onto dirt road #8N38. Follow this two miles west to where it meets the railroad spurs on the ridge top.
These historical sites and grades have not been restored. The Eldorado National Forest is concerned with preserving what is left so that it can be enjoyed as a recreational and educational area.
ADA Accessibility Notes
Most railroad grades are accessible by car. The trails are minimally developed and are not designed for the disabled.
Pet Friendly Notes
Pets are welcome on leash.