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The Mill

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What was this beautiful place like before it was Trinity Village?

Long-time resident Lezlee Heft remembers it as "wild and open" around an old mill when her family arrived here in the Sixties.

"Before the Village was built we kids used to play tag on horseback around here, hiding behind the big clumps of Manzanita. Then after the mill closed we played on the logs left floating in the mill pond. How we stayed alive - I don't know!"

Villager Butch Mathews and his friends also played on those mill pond logs, starting the summer of 1964 when his father, Francis "Moose" Mathews, and land partners Don Riewerts and Dr. Jack Walsh, bought the mill and began planning and building the Village.

"We stayed in the old mill houses back then," says Butch, "and I remember the sound and size of those big frogs in the pond. It was a kids' paradise."

Dr. Walsh recalls, "Moose and Don brought me up there, and I saw all the grapes and the flame trees and the fruit trees, and I feel in love with it."

"We had Winzler and Kelly engineer the subdivision, Art Tonkin roughed in the roads, and Whitson did the water system. Harold Hunt was the realtor and the lots sold for around $1200 to $2500 each. The new Highway 299 was coming in so I bought a lot for us too."

Jack still laughs about how Don Riewerts bought an old fire engine for the Village, and all three men went down around Sacramento to get it. "We took it to my backyard in Eureka at first and our kids were the hit of the neighborhood, shooting water all over the place."

"There were plans for a dam on the Trinity River back then," he points out, "and it would have formed a lake up river from the New River to maybe Cedar Flat." Like much of that era's proposed water, power and recreational development, the dam never materialized and the river remained wild below Lewiston.

"There was a landing strip cutting diagonally across the old lumber mill. Back then mill owners needed small planes to get around to their various operations," Jack adds.

They bought the mill from Eddie Enquist, who some local loggers still teasingly refer to as "The One-Armed Bandit." He is remembered as a likeable man with only one arm who still managed to log, mill, and then build a two-story ski lodge up on Horse Mountain. He was an original shareholder in the Village subdivision but soon sold out his share.

Eddie was a "can-do" man, so when a 1955 flood washed out the bridge, he put in a cable and shot lumber across the river on a cable car to get it to market. Then he built a low water summer bridge down where Butch Mathew's place is now, until the Forest Service bridge was built a few years later.

Before the mill was built around 1949, only two families lived on our side of the river, according to long time local Bruce McIntosh. What is now Trinity Village was crisscrossed with abandoned rock flumes built to bring water to the old gold diggings. (You can see the remains of these where Hawkins Bar Road turns near the firehouse.) One mining shack stood where the Dalton's home stands now. (China gardens is at the end of Hawkins Bar Road Road.) And what is the Hess Ranch house today, was the site of the Brizard trading post, serving gold miners coming in and out of Old Denny. All of this area was open cattle range for the Wallen pioneer family.

The Wallens still own their ranch right above the Village. Frank Wallen recalls that same winter of 1955 when high water took out the bridge and he had to walk "around" to get home - he hiked up the New River to the Denny Divide and then back down to their ranch! Three feet of snow was not unusual here back then.