Placer County








            George Washington Towle, of the firm of Towle Brothers, Towle, Placer County, California, is the only survivor of the three brothers who established the above named firm and who built up the largest and most successful lumber manufacturing business in northern California.    

            Mr. Towle was born in Corinth, Orange County, Vermont, February 2, 1836, of Welsh ancestry who settled in Londonderry, New Hampshire, at a very early day and were identified with the early history of that town and later with that of the colonies.  Grandfather Brocket Towle served through the Revolution, coming out with the rank of colonel, and after the war settled on land in Orange County, Vermont.  There Ira Towle, the father of George W., was born and spent his life, and the property is still in the possession of the family.  Ira Towle married Miss Annie Doe, and the following named children were born to them:  Edwin W.; Allen; George W.; Mrs. J. H. Robie, of Auburn, California; and Mrs. Henry Robie, of Lincoln, Placer County.  The father died in the fifty-ninth year of his age; the mother in her seventieth year.

            George W. Towle received a public school and academic education in his native state, and until he was past twenty-one his life was passed on this father’s farm.  Then in 1857 he came to California, making the journey by way of the Isthmus of Panama.  His brother Allen was already here, located at Dutch Flat, having come the year before, and the next two years the brothers worked together, mining for wages at the rate of three dollars and fifty cents per day.  In 1859 the third brother, Edwin W., joined them and shortly afterward the brothers became associated together in the sawmill business, an association which was formed under the name of Towle Brothers, and which firm style is still used, though two of the brothers are deceased.  Constant industry and honorable and upright business methods brought phenomenal success to the company.  July 14, 1889, it was incorporated and today the Towle Brothers, recognized as the largest concern of its kind in California, ships its products to all parts of this state, to various points in the east and to Europe.  The first mill, built in 1859 at Blue Canyon, had an upright saw and a capacity of about four thousand feet of lumber.  The product was sold at good prices to the miners, but as mining at that point proved a failure the lumber was never paid for.  Afterward they bought a mill at Dutch Flat, with a capacity of ten thousand feet of lumber per day, and equipped with a circular saw.  This mill was abandoned after the timber in its vicinity had been cut.  Here it was, however, that the success of the company began.  Their next mill they built on the creek about where Towle now stands, it being known as the Kersage mill and having a capacity of twenty thousand feet of lumber per day.  Subsequently they built a mill at Cisco and two at Donner Lake, the three having a capacity of about seventy-five thousand feet, the product from same being used in railroad construction.  The Canyon Creek mill, with a capacity of thirty thousand feet per day, was the next mill erected by the company.  They took a contract for and built thirty-five miles of railroad for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, from Towle to within three miles of Washington, Nevada County, having during the period of construction five sawmills along the line.  They now have two sawmills in the Texas district and they manufacture as high as fifteen million feet of lumber per season; also they manufacture doors, sash, blinds and mouldings of all kinds, and they have a box factory at Towle and one at Sacramento.  From time to time they have acquired large tracts of land.  Recently they sold eighteen thousand acres of land for grazing and mining purposes, and at this writing they have eight thousand acres of timber land.  They have nine lumber yards in Placer and Nevada counties.  The town of Towle was named in honor of them and to them owes much of the prosperity which it enjoys, they having erected good residences and a first-class hotel, and also having established a mercantile business, which they are conducting.

            Edwin W. Towle died in 1888, leaving a widow and two children, Arthur and Edwin, who reside in Oakland.  Arthur is a member of the firm of Towle Brothers.  Allen Towle died in 1896.  His children are:  G. G., a partner in the above named business; Ora, now Mrs. Stevenson; and Aline and Sadie.  George W. Towle was married in 1874 to Miss F. A. Staples, by whom two children were born, both now deceased.

            For the past thirty years Mr. Towle has been a member of the I. O. O. F., and politically he is a Republican.  Throughout his long and successful business career he has maintained a reputation for integrity and honor, a reputation in which his brothers shared.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 385-387. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.




Placer County Biographies

California Statewide

Golden Nugget Library