Unforgettable Legacy

| January/February 1970

Box 432, Hughson California 95326

It was about 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon one day last fall when I drove into the ranch yard at Sonora, California. The ranch belonged to Charlie Hess, a long time resident of Tuolumne County. Charlie was down by the barn and gas pump getting his pick-up and chain saw fueled up so he could cut a load of wood before dark.

I drove down to the barn, parked; got out and introduced myself to Charlie. He finally got his dogs settled down and asked me again who I was. Charlie was in his mid-seventies and had lived around Sonora for most, if not all, his life. Sonora is located in the heart of the Mother Lode Country with countless mines operating in Tuolumne County in the Gold Rush days. There are still a good number of people mining for gold both on a part time and full time basis throughout the Mother Lode.

After a little small talk I told Charlie I came out to talk to an old timer to see if he knew of any 'one lungers' in the country. His remark was, 'I might, why' What do you want with one?' I told him I wanted to restore one and put it back to its original condition or as near to it as possible, complete with original color paint job. Charlie reckoned he had one and if I wanted to go with him to cut some wood he would show me an engine. He drove out west of the house three miles towards the back of the ranch, where the engine sat on a stamp mill, at an old gold mine. Turned out to be an 8 hp. Samson made in Stockton, California.

Charlie said the engine originally ran belted to a pump near a town called Chinese Camp not too far away. It was later moved to the stamp mill and crushed ore for the gold mine. As near as he could remember it had been around thirty-eight years since the engine last ran.

Since that time I have spent some time researching the Samson Iron Works and will write another article on that subject later. I have some pictures that were taken when the Samson Iron works was in production. I will send along copies for publication. I have talked to two employees, but they are so old now they don't remember too accurately about those days. John Kroyer, the founder of the works, had a son, an only child who married and later divorced. The son is no longer living, but the girl he divorced remarried and is living in Santa Cruz, California. I want to talk to her before I write my article.


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