Loco Steve

Loco Steve

Posted on 05/31/2013

Photo taken on July 22, 2011

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California Zephyr
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Ice house ruins at Boca California

Ice house ruins at Boca  California
BOCA. Named Camp 17 by CPRR construction crews, It was first a mill site for Friend and Terry Lumber Co. of Sacramento, then the Boca Mill Company Natural ice harvests started in 1868 and lasted until 1927, the last plant on the river. Interstate 80 crosses the site of the Boca Brewery which operated from 1876 to 1893. Numerous broken foundations are still visible at Boca.
Boca was well known for its lumber and ice industries but its biggest claim to fame was its brewery. The brewery was established in 1876 and was destroyed by a fire in 1893. In its heyday, Boca’s brewery produced 30,000 barrels of lager beer each year.

The town of Boca was mostly men who worked for the ice or lumber industries. But by 1873, the town had enough children that a school was built. By 1876 the town had a post office, telegraph office, train depot, hotel, Chinese laundry, general store, butcher shop, brothel, blacksmith shop, saloons, along with its sawmill, ice house and brewery.

Ice was shipped throughout the west, the expanding produce industry and the development of insulated railroad cars greatly stimulated the ice industry. With ice from Boca, fresh California produce could be shipped anywhere in the country. Ice was also used in the Comstock silver mines to cool the deep underground tunnels where temperatures would reach 140F. Due to the furious competition between the various ice companies, it was decided to combine all operations and, in 1881, Union Ice Company was formed. Ice production was greatly reduced in the 1880’s when the Comstock mining era ended and by the turn of the century modern refrigeration and man made ice production took over natural ice harvesting. www.k9forensic.org/boca.html
The Town of Boca played a significant role in Truckee’s past:
By Guy H. Coates

Boca was only a construction camp for the Central Pacific Railroad when Judge Edwin Bryant Crocker named it in 1868. The name means “mouth” in Spanish and derives from the fact that the town was located at the mouth of the Little Truckee River where it empties into the main river.

Judge Cocker was the older brother of Charles Crocker, one of the Central Pacific’s Big Four, that included Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins and Collis Huntington.

With the completion of the transcontinental railroad, there was a demand for enormous quantities of timber for trestles, ties, buildings, as well as fuel for wood burning locomotives and woodstoves. Even greater was the demand for clear, cold mountain ice.

At Boca, winter temperatures frequently dropped to 15 and 20 below zero, making it natural for the commercial ice cutting trade.

Realizing the potential for huge profits, wealthy investors built numerous sawmills and ice companies throughout the area. Hence, the first settlers came to Boca in1868 when the Boca Mill and Ice Company commenced operations.

According to Union Ice Company annual reports provided by historian Tom Macaulay, Edward W. Hopkins, nephew of Mark Hopkins, bought into the Summit Ice Company at Prosser Creek which he combined with the Boca Mill Ice Company to create the Sierra Lakes Ice Company in 1878.

Due to the furious competition between the various ice companies, they decided to combine their operations and, in 1881, they formed Union Ice Company. Lloyd Tevis of Wells Fargo Bank was named president and Edward W. Hopkins was appointed vice president. In 1891 the company officially incorporated as The Union Ice Company, Inc.

Tevis and Hopkins made arrangements to supply Boca ice for the countless railroad boxcars headed for markets both east and west. With ice from Boca, fresh California produce could be shipped anywhere in the country.

Within a few years the growing town had added a sawmill, a telegraph office, a shingle house, a schoolhouse, a hotel, a general store and by 1876 completed construction of the huge Boca Brewing Company. As many as 300 workers were employed in Boca’s various industries. The town even had its own post office that remained in business until 1945.

A dam was built on the Little Truckee creating a millpond area of 180 acres. This was used for summer storage of logs and in winter as an ice harvest field.

There were six monstrous icehouses in Boca, each capable of storing thousands of tons of ice. The ice was cut from the millpond, floated 200 yards down the canal and skidded on a tramway to where it was packed in sawdust and stored year-round.

It took about 4,000 tons of ice to keep the storage cellars cool in late July. It was reported that the company had ample facilities for storing enough ice in a single winter to supply California for a dozen years.

By 1872, Boca was shipping more ice, wood, shingles to points east and west than any other point between San Francisco and Omaha. The town even had its own short line railroad to the lumber mill in Loyalton.

In its heyday, Boca’s brewery produced 30,000 barrels of beer each year. The brewery was located across the river from the mill and ice plant where today’s Interstate Highway 80 now crosses over the site.

Boca, being one of the coldest places in the country in winter, had five cold springs and unlimited ice that could be harvested and stored for use for over a year, ideal for a brewery site.

Boca Beer was sold worldwide and gained fame due to brewing with natural spring water and ice. It became a popular drink at the 1883 World’s Fair in Paris, France.

On a cold January evening in 1893, the Boca Brewery burned to the ground marking the end of one of the country’s most popular beers.

By the turn of the century, man-made ice began to replace natural ice and the Boca Ice Company ceased operations. At the same time, every tree near Boca had all been harvested without regard to conservation, forcing the timber industry to close down.

Boca’s last ice harvest took place in the mid 1920s when Union Ice Company constructed its refrigeration plant on west 4th Street in Reno. The old building is the current home of Glacier Ice Company.

In 1904, fire destroyed the hotel and what was left of the town was demolished when Boca Dam was built in 1939.

Today there isn’t much left of the remains of the old town of Boca except some concrete foundations from a few of the old icehouses near the railroad tracks. Other remains can be seen near the foot of the Boca dam and beneath Boca Reservoir whenever the water level is low. .

A trickling natural spring that once provided clear mountain water for Boca beer can still be found above the freeway opposite the old brewery site.

In 1996 the U.S. Forest service opened one-quarter mile interpretive trail through what was Boca. The trail leads up the hill to the east of the reservoir to a cemetery where some of Boca’s long forgotten citizens are buried in the old cemetery.
Photo from California zephyr This Image also appears in 'Amtrak train Routes'