"Crazy To Drive A Truck"
Top: Gravel wash plant, built out of timbers in a small hollow next to the railroad track. The highest hills in the area were all around. Now they have all been hauled away -- in one place below lake level -- and cattle walk down to drink.
Middle: Donald was "crazy" to drive a truck -- and did.
Bottom: Gust Melby's gravel pit, used for paving highway.
Excerpt from Donald B. Johnson manuscript:
"When the steam shovel I hauled water for wasn't working, I got other odd jobs around the gravel plant with the horses. The railroad officials were giving the boss a bad time because the water [from the washing plant] was soaking up the railroad grade. They sent me across the track with a team and fresno scraper to keep the sand from piling up at the end of the flume.
"The flume was an open trough and carried the water and sand from a 10-inch pipe. This was more sand than water and no team and scraper could possibly move that much sand. I had to go back and forth across the sand so the water could get away faster.
"One day a dressed-up Great Northern Railroad official came down and started to bawl me out because I wasn't getting it moved fast enough. My faithful team was soaking wet and I was wearing hip boots. When the horses went across the stream, I would step up on the edge of the flume and across.
"Just as he was giving me a good, old-fashioned, Great Northern bawling out, my foot slipped off the board and into the running water. That sprayed the crabby character from head to foot with water and clay and rusty sand. All I could think of to say was, 'Oh, did I splash you?'. He left as fast as he could, swearing a blue streak. I never saw any more railroad men."
"The trucks, all hired by the hour, were of various makes, some in fleets and some singles driven by their owners. I was 'crazy' to drive a truck and some of the private owners would sometimes let me drive their trucks for an hour or so when I wasn't busy. [23.149-7]
"In one of the fleets from Duluth there was a big old chain-drive, single-wheel truck that took better than average skill, and I was just sick to try it. I begged and begged the driver to let me take a trip (about a city block) with it.
"He took out his 'snoose' box and said, 'If you will take a good, big mouthful of snoose, I will let you try it.'
"I weighed that over and over many times, but never got the nerve to take the snoose." [23.150-2]
"The gravel plant ran for seven years -- five months the first summer and about that long for the next two or three years. The last three or four years it ran for only a month or two each season. Then the soft wood timbers it was built on rotted out and the whole big washing and screening plant slowly tipped over. There were two or three men (including Donovan Grover) up in it. Nobody got hurt, but it was the end of an era." [23.146-1]