Small-Town Parade with Big-Time Charm

50th Anniversary 2 no dates

2024 Grand Marshal

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Graeagle's Independence Day Celebration, Grand Marshal to be Harvey E. West, Jr. in Memoriam:

The Historic Legacy of Graeagle 

Graeagle, CA – Graeagle, a small town with a rich history continues its focus on community under the stewardship of the West family. Founded in 1916 and named after Gray Eagle Creek, Graeagle began as a mill town when Arthur Davies acquired a timber tract. The town developed around a sawmill operation that produced 50,000 board feet of pine lumber daily.

The new mill needed housing for its employees at this new endeavor, so Davies had his company houses in the Sardine Valley transported via the Boca-Loyalton Railroad to Graeagle. The homes were sawn in half so that they would fit on the B&L flatcars, then moved by rail horses, wagons, and vehicles to Graeagle. To this day, one can still see visible signs of the joining on the red houses that adorn the main street. More infrastructure was added complete with a dairy, company store, post office, millpond, and employee housing. In 1918, the California Fruit Exchange purchased the Davies' holdings, transforming the lumber facilities to produce fruit boxes for the ‘Blue Anchor’ label, and the self-sufficient community thrived.

Throughout the early 20th century, Graeagle grew, with family homes, a hardware store, butcher shop, and social venues like the community hall and sports facilities. The town's population, consisting of about 600 workers, enjoyed various social events, including prizefights boxing matches held at the Graeagle baseball field twice monthly, and baseball games organized by the Sportsmen’s Association.

Economic shifts in the 1950s, including the rise of cardboard boxes for fruit transport, led to the Graeagle Lumber Mill's closure in 1956. The mill’s equipment was auctioned off as two hundred buyers from all over the western states came in late May of 1957 to buy the sawmill, box factory, and planning mill equipment. It only took one day for it to be sold. Amazingly, within two weeks of the auction, only two or three families remained in town. In essence, the town was deserted, all the other houses became vacant and abandoned. However, in 1958, Harvey West Sr., a large timber operator based in Placerville, CA, purchased the nearly deserted town, timberland and properties. The West family saw potential in Graeagle and developed a master plan to rejuvenate the area.

Harvey West Jr. and his wife Shirley, along with their children, moved to Graeagle in the early 1960s. In January 1973 the Graeagle Land and Water Company was established, focusing on slow growth and community building. The family sold homesite parcels, developed amenities, and constructed the Graeagle Meadows Golf Course between 1962 and 1970, fostering a renewed sense of community.

Today, Dan West, along with his son Harvey West III, continues to manage the Graeagle Land and Water Company, upholding the family legacy. The company comprises more than 80 dedicated employees who build and maintain the town infrastructure, including a private water company, power plant, gas station, two golf courses, commercial buildings, and various lands the company allows locals and visitors to enjoy. True to its roots, the town remains proudly self-sufficient, without state or federal tax support.  The West family is committed to preserving Graeagle's historic charm, supporting local businesses, and nurturing a slow growth philosophy.

In honor of Harvey West, Jr.’s vision and dedication, he is named the Grand Marshal in Memoriam for Graeagle’s 50th Anniversary Celebration of Independence Day. He will be represented by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the parade.  We hope to see you there!

“The Town of Graeagle is Celebrating 66 years of building Friends, Families…. and Community”!

Be a part of this historic event. Register to be in the parade below.

You can also download, print, and mail your parade entry form and payment check.