By Michael Olwyler — Special to Sierra News Online
NORTH FORK — Three interpretive signs will be installed at the site where the North Fork Associated Box and Lumber Company mill was once located. The signs, part of a project spearheaded by the North Fork History Group, will address the 50-year history of the sawmill.
Today, the old mill site on the South Fork of Willow Creek is owned and managed by the North Fork Community Development Council (CDC). The COVID-19 epidemic has delayed progress on the installation of the signs, however, fundraising for the signs is continuing since grant opportunities from Visit Yosemite/Madera County were cancelled this year due to the coronavirus.
The North Fork History Group, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, has worked in the community since 1991 to gather, preserve and share the history of the local area. The interpretive signs are a preliminary stage of a project that is being considered in coordination with the CDC.
The interests of the History Group and the CDC are to create a history park at the site of the old mill to memorialize the lumber industry and forest environments, educate visitors to the site — and share the history of the local community.
The History Park will be accessible to the community and visitors as well as owners of parcels at the Mill Site.
The three interpretive signs will be similar in design and construction to the standards used by the National Park Service, with text and graphics that tell the story of the operations of the lumber mill — and the Native Americans and lumbermen that worked in the woods and at the mill site.
The signs will be located at the edge of Koso Nobe Road at an overlook to the old mill site where two huge saws that operated in the old mill building act as sentinels to a bygone era of forestry that brought prosperity to North Fork.
The signs are expected to be installed later this year.