At Rest at Cypress Lawn: John Dolbeer (1827 – 1902)

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John Dolbeer left the New Hampshire family farm in 1850 at the age of 23 and trekked to the California gold rush to make his fortune. Like many others, he found his fortune in other endeavors. In 1863, Dolbeer and a partner would become one of the first huge Redwood timber operations, the Dolbeer and Carson Lumber Company. The mill operated with his name on it in the Eureka waterfront until the 1970s.

Dolbeer was a prolific inventor. His several patents showed ingenuity in problem-solving that had an impact on all facets of the industry, from actual lumbering operations to transporting and exporting. Among his most useful and successful patents, which brought a financial windfall, was the Dolbeer Logging Engine in 1881, also called the “steam donkey” or “donkey engine.”

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This machine consisted of a simple steam engine mounted on a wooden skid which enabled loggers to employ cables to move giant logs across long distances or steep ground to adjacent railways or waterways. It vastly improved log retrieval in difficult terrain and revolutionized the industry. So cost-effective and efficient, the technology continued to be used well into the 20th century.

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The family settled in on Lombard Street in San Francisco. Dolbeer’s life was filled with personal tragedy. In 1879, his wife committed suicide and was described by the San Francisco Call  as “a suffering invalid.” Seven years later his son Chase was thrown from a wagon and died at the age of 13. He was deceased when his daughter Bertha committed suicide at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.

The dramatic bronze mausoluem entrance, depicting The Angel of Death closing the mausoleum door, was done by noted San Francisco sculpture Haig Patigian. He and his daughter Bertha are buried there.

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Dolbeer is laid to rest within Section I of our East Campus. Click here to view an interactive map of our Memorial Park.