Mill Creek Canyon

Image of Mill Creek Mill, 1895
Mill Creek Mill, 1895

The mill that gave the name to Mill Creek Canyon was the first sawmill in the San Bernardino Mountains.

It was known by a great number of names. Louis Vignes leased the site from the Mexican Government on which it was built. Daniel Sexton operated the mill, which was known, therefore, as the Vignes-Sexton mill. However, Louis Vignes lived in the Aliso vineyard in Los Angeles, and he was familiarly known as Old Don Aliso; therefore, the mill was referred to at times as the Aliso Mill. Likewise, when Isaac Williams bought the mill, he lived on the Chino ranch; therefore it was sometimes called, at a later date, the Chino Mill.

No one knows the exact location of the Vignes-Sexton mill, but according to Beattie, it must have been near the mouth of the canyon, for no road existed to higher timber when, in 1853, Lyman, Rich, and Thorpe began work on another mill upstream in the same canyon.

Mill Creek was an excellent source of timber for about a third of a century. The creek supplied a never-failing supply of water, because the stream never went dry during Summer, nor froze during Winter to an extent that interfered with mill work. According to Beattie, an article in a San Francisco paper in 1856 stated that four of six water-powered mills in the mountains north of San Bernardino stood idle from June to December due to lack of water:1

"The lumbering methods of these early years were extremely wasteful. Woodsmen made a practice of cutting only the finest trees, and working upon only the most desirable portions, leaving the remainder to decay or to be burned into charcoal. Shingle mills were especially wasteful, as they used none but the fine straight sections of a log."2

1 Beattie, op. cit., p. 194.
2 Ibid., p. 210

Map | Table of Contents