The Hudson Bay Company Gov. Simpson gave orders for an expedition to proceed  up the Willamette River across a mountainous country which was little known about to the Umpqua River. To satisfy the curiosity of Simpson and McLaughlin chief trader Peter Skene Ogden formed a trapping expedition heading southeast from Fort Vancouver into the upper Klamath basin. After following the Klamath River downstream looking for a way out then headed north across the Siskiyou summit between Mount Ashland and Pilot Rock is sending into the Bear Creek drainage of the Rogue River Valley on February 8 night 1827

It was noted that Ogden and his men bivouacked in “a meadow known later as Cole’s Station on Cottonwood Creek” (as reported from Ogdon’s diaries.


What had began as an Indian trail had become the Hudson’s Bay Pack Trail bearing an increasing amounts of traffic by trappers, emigrants and livestock.


Ewing Young, a former mountain man, guided the first herd of cattle from California into Oregon to break the Hudson Bay Company monopoly on cattle. Indications that he crossed the Siskiyous on the old indian and settler trail coming up past Hilt.


First wagon train crossed the Siskiyou Summit - a party driving ten wagons led by Jesse Applegate. The increased use of the trail exacerbated the already poor relations with the “rascally” Indians in the area.


Miners entered the Cottonwood Valley looking for gold - followed the West Fork of Cottonwood Creek to its source

1854 - 1887

There was a plaque that stated that the lower Mountcrest was a stage station.


Rufus Cole established Cole Ranch north of what was to be Hilt (1975 Siskiyou Pioneer p78) Brian and brother Rufus left Putnam County in New York and came out to establish ranches in the Colestine Valley under the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850. Rufus built his first house adjacent to the Hudson’s Bay Pack Trail. From 1855 to 1859 his house served as a hotel for the summer wagon stages. There is firm evidence that the original Hudson’s Bay Pack Trail was further east than originally thought (Source Southern Oregon Heritage Today Nov. 1999 Vol. 1, No.11)  

about 1859

Toll road built over the Siskiyou Mountains by A.G. Rockefeller (cousin to John D. Rockefeller) terminating at Cole Station. Ivan Applegate was the toll collector. Some charges - one horseman 25 cents, one buggy $1.25, one pack train $2.25.


The first sawmill in the Hilt area was built on the West Fork of Cottonwood Creek by William H. Smith near where the CCC camp was built in 1930 near Ditch Creek Road - built to saw shakes and some lumber (1975 Siskiyou Pioneer p13)


On behalf of the California & Columbia River Railroad, Mr. Simon G. Elliott completed a survey of the rail route over the Siskiyous. There was also a survey by Barry which covered the same route over the Siskiyous. (Source: The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society Vol. XXV Sept 1924 #3)


John Hilt bought the mill from son-in-law Bill Smith - ran it for a few years before moving it up to the Circle P Ranch (1975 Siskiyou Pioneer p13)


Bryon Cole built the Colestein Mineral Springs Resort and his wife, Chloe Ann Knox, ran it until about 1919 when it was sold to George Avgeris.


California and Oregon stage line - Salisbury, Hailey & Co. Propr’s ran a line into Coles -Delta to Ashland.


The Bailey Hill school district was formed in 1887 (another account [Warren Bayliss] indicated that the first school district was formed about 1878 and classes were held in the old Fairking house which was on the north side of Bailey Hill by the old state road. The name was changed from Bailey Hill to Hilt in 1921

The first schoolhouse was located approximately 2 miles southwest of the present school at the junction of Soda Springs Road and Cottonwood Creek

The earliest records that can be found on the school show that in 1890 a Mr. Edward Nolon was the teacher. He received a salary of $65 per month. The school had 11 pupils.

April 23, 1887

Mr. Smith, Hovey, and Gettings, and Dan Crawley are now driving stage over Siskiyou mountains.  By May, three daily stages are running regularly through the Siskiyous. (Source: From the Yreka Journal.)

August, 1887

Col. Stone says there were 1900 passengers over the Siskiyou Mountain during August, 950 Each Way. The highest number in one day was 106, which required a full turn on of all stock and stages. (Source: Yreka Journal September 14, 1887)

October 19, 1887

Railroad completed to Ashland (1975 Siskiyou Pioneer p83) October 19, 1887 The first passenger train passed through the Siskiyou Mountain on the 10th. It was pulled up the mountain and through the tunnel by three locomotives, the grade from Hornbrook up the mountain being as high as 175 feet to the mile for most of the distance. Several extra passenger cars have been hauled to the Siskiyou lately, so as to have enough for two trains each day. The cars here to for hold up with passengers have also been used for the return trip on the same day. Immigrant coaches are now run on the OMC railroad between Portland and Ashland

Mrs. Hilt of Henley  Wright says that Mr. and Mrs. Chandler of Willow Creek, Mrs. Shattuck and herself pass through the Siskiyou mountain tunnel, October 10 on the first passenger train to the new terminus near Dollarhides and had a pleasant time. Mrs. Hilt and Mrs. Chandler came to Yreka 35 years ago. Mrs. Shattuck crosses Siskiyou mountains in 1850 and  Mrs. Hilt rode in the first stagecoach to Yreka in 1852. They intend taking a trip on the last stage over the Siskiyou Mountain with veteran Dan Cawley, if weather permits when the railroad is finished. (Source: Yreka Journal)

December 21, 1887

Railroad completed to Ashland (1975 Siskiyou Pioneer p83) The last spike was driven in the railroad in a section about a quarter-mile south of the depot in Ashland. Stagecoaches were still left at Dollarhide’s sawmill kept in reserve in case there were slides or blockages on the railroad over the Siskiyous.


W.W.Coleman and wife, Margurette Ellen moved into the area from Fresno, CA. Lived west of what was later, town of Hilt - was directly across Cottonwood Creek from the old box factory


The first telegraph line was put through the area and the first operator was Jum Coyle who had an office in the Cole house.

March 30, 1888

Rufus Cole commissioned as the first postmaster and the office was named Coles (1975 Siskiyou Pioneer p83)


George Sears had a saloon 30 feet north of the S.P. Depot. (1975 Siskiyou Pioneer p17)


The earliest records that can be found on the Baily Hill school show that in 1890 a Mr. Edward Nolon was the teacher. He received a salary of $65 per month. The school had 11 pupils.

Prior to 1900

Several people were living on the West Fork of Cottonwood Creek - S.S. Shadduck owned a place west of Hilt and sold it to Bryan Cole

Prior to 1900

Frisbey blacksmith shop was at the confluence of Cole and Cottonwood Creeks near the old Bailey Hill School.

Early 1900’s

Approximately 1000 head of cattle were ranging from Hilt to Horse Creek. In 1918 there was close to 10,000 sheep in the Mt. Sterling area.(Source: Memories from the Land of Siskiyou.- Jess and Else m. DeAvilla story about ranching.

1901 /2

John Hilt sold his sawmill to 4 Oregonians - called it Hilt Sugar Pine Company - lumber was hauled to the railroad tracks where they started the town of Hilt building a store, office, cookhouse and a two story house for the yard foreman (Victor Peterson) and a bunk house. (1975 Siskiyou Pioneer p17) The mill was cutting 35,000 board feet a day.

March 5, 1903

Ellen J. Cole named postmaster presumably after her husband died (1975 Siskiyou Pioneer p83

July 6, 1903

Hilt Post Office was established and Victor Peterson became postmaster. We guess that the office was moved to his home or an office and was to be called Hilt’s Place. The government dropped the apostrophe and “Place” so it turned out to be Hilts.  (FGSC book Tim Purdy) (1975 Siskiyou Pioneer p83)


Railroad built that links the mill at Circle P to the town site.

about 1906

Victor E. (Slim) Warrens bought $10,000 worth of stock in the Northern California Lumber Company for the priviledge of building a saloon on the Company’s land.

1906 -7

The box factory was built along with the shook shed along with 3 dry kilns. The waterline was built along with the sewer. The first hotel and a row of houses were constructed.

February 1907

Northern California Lumber Company formed by Shasta County Investors (FGSC book Tim Purdy)

March 1907

Northern California Lumber Company bought Hilt Sugar Pine Company which included a sawmill, 7,000 acres virgin pine timber (FGSC book Tim Purdy) or 1906 (1975 Siskiyou Pioneer p17)

October 5, 1907

Fruit Growers Supply Company founded a cooperative with 80 growers (FGSC book Tim Purdy)

July 29, 1910

Fruit Growers Supply Company took over assets of Northern California Lumber Company which was extremely in debt. (FGSC book Tim Purdy)


A large steam engine supplies electricity to the plant and some houses in town.


Sawmill and lumber yard were built in 1911 and 1912 on the Hilt town site.  The lumber yard (lumber yard #1) east of the sawmill and north of the box factory was built. From photographs, lumber was moved from the green chain to lumber yards by a series of trams with carts first pulled by horses.


Hugh Cole acquired the land from Brian Cole and sold it to Reginald Parsons. We are assuming this is the Cole property at the upper Mountcrest Ranch.


From photograph by Domenic Favero shows dormitory, small building where carpenter shop is, corner of school house (our old house) 5 houses on Dobie street plus which looks like another dorm. (p.21 FGSC book Tim Purdy)


FGS manufactured 2 million boxes, and mill produced 15,370,000 board feet of lumber - Lumber sold under trade name Regal Pine (FGSC book Tim Purdy)


By 1912, Hilt consisted of 70 cottages, a hotel, a dormitory, a hospital, a company store and company office - on the west side of the tracks was the Italian section (FGSC book Tim Purdy)


FGS manufactured 8,935,178 boxes  (FGSC book Tim Purdy)


FGS bought 40-ton Climax designated #3 (FGSC book Tim Purdy)


In 1913, there was a "better roads" movement in the West. The decision was made to build a Pacific highway over the Siskiyous, a highway that would follow nearly the same route as the Siskiyou Mountain Wagon Road, which had been operating as a toll road.


William Bray bought the Cole Station from the Coles


Highway 99 (Pacific Highway) completed over the Siskiyous.


The first power substation was built.


Reginald Parsons bought the Cole ranch from William Bray. This was the upper Mountcrest Ranch.


Sunkist hotel built - front street (across from Hilt store) - Grand opening in June

1920 - 1931

Deter Ranch four miles up from Bray’s had a post office and store in their home as well as school in a little white Deter school house.


The sawmill was converted from steam to electric.

July 5, 1921

The school district name was changed from Bailey Hill to Hilt. The first school term was held in the Farking residence on the north side of Bailey Hill. From there the school was moved to the basement of the old hotel or boarding house. The next school was built on water tank hill. Another schoolhouse was erected at the junction of soda Springs Road and Cottonwood Creek it would it was at this place that the old hilt sawmill was built. When they moved the sawmill to its present site, they also moved the schoolhouse to its present location.


Fred Bayliss accepted role of Superintendent of Mountcrest -moved to upper ranch (Cole Station) in February  (Warren was 2 and Jim was 5)

June 9, 1924

Fire destroyed Sunkist Hotel and nine cottages (FGSC book Tim Purdy)


Another fire destroyed many of the older homes near the hotel (FGSC book Tim Purdy)


Fire destroyed the 40 room dormitory, nearby homes and 20 million board feet of lumber drying in mill yards (FGSC book Tim Purdy)


William Bray again bought the upper Mountcrest (Cole Station). In the 1930’s he also bought the herd of cattle that Fruit Growers had on their land.

Prior to 1929/1930

Parson’s sold the Upper Mountcrest to William J. Bray and consolidated the operation to lower Mountcrest Ranch - additional buildings were built and improvements made - as time went on, Circle P was added (1975 Siskiyou Pioneer p81)


Lumber Shed Number 1 and Slicer Plant built. Upgrade to slicer plant building in 1950.


End of railroad logging (That season saw 35,161,309 board feet of lumber delivered to the mill (FGSC book Tim Purdy) This was also the time Hilt was supposed to end, however, having access to the timber by road allowed the plant to continue operating.


Logging camps dismantled (all the rail tracks were dismantled - nearly 50 miles of mainline railroad (FGSC book Tim Purdy)

June 5, 1935

Civilian Conservation Corp Camp #994 Hilt Project F23 of the 9th Corp. formed for road building in the Siskiyou’s and to help dismantle logging railroads. Many of the roads followed the railroad grades. (Source: Roosevelt’s Forest Army, History of the CCC - by Perry H. Merrill - self-published 1981.)


Dr. Roy Schlappi took over as town doctor replacing Dr Langer (FGSC book Tim Purdy)- Schlappi moved to Yreka in March 1942 to open a practice.

  1. c.1937

Wilmer Hilt’s property near Soda Bar was added to Mountcrest (1975 Siskiyou Pioneer p81)


Old Highway 99 built over Siskiyous. 


S.S. Smith bought the ranch from William Bray.


Go to the 1943 page for the chronology of 1943....


Established second logging camp in the West Beaver Creek area at Morgan Medows (FGSC book Tim Purdy)


Trams were removed.


Company built 500,000 gallon reservoir on hill south of mill - volunteer fire department formed. (FGSC book Tim Purdy)


Mountcrest sold to Homer Watson (1975 Siskiyou Pioneer p82)


Major upgrade to plant area. Sawmill extended with resaw building. New green chain added. New dry kilns, new resorter building, Planing mill and Crane Shed added. Log pond was extended making for more storage of logs.

September 5, 1955

Haystack Burn started - loss of 96.2 million board feet (FGSC book Tim Purdy)

Spring 1956

Large mudslide wiped out Indian Creek logging camp - decision made soon after to abandon logging camps and improve road to Beaver Creek area (FGSC book Tim Purdy)


Town started sprucing up - previously most houses unpainted. (FGSC book Tim Purdy)

May 29, 1961

Box factory closed (FGSC book Tim Purdy)


Mill produced 37.8 million board feet of lumber (FGSC book Tim Purdy)

July 1, 1967

Hilts changed to Hilt officially. Previously the U.S. Government referred to Hilt as Hilts, a shortened version of Hilt’s Place, the original postal designation.


Mill produced 45, 991,000 board feet of lumber (FGSC book Tim Purdy)

October 5, 1972

At 2:00 Jim Mickell President FGSC announced that Hilt was finally going to close. (FGSC book Tim Purdy)

June 27, 1973

Last log sawed in Hilt mill. (FGSC book Tim Purdy)

January 4, 1974

Hilt Post Office closed

June 14, 1974

Sawmill burns down (no one was left in town to fight it) (FGSC book Tim Purdy)

The first Sunday of August every year, a reunion of former Hilt residents, workers, and families gather for a reunion.

A Chronology Of Hilt Events