Company Town: Scotia, California
Throughout most of its one hundred year history, Scotia, one of the last and most successful company owned towns in America, has been a community where job security was assured and families stayed for generations. In many respects Scotia has been the ideal of the American small town. Surrounded by a landscape of exceptional beauty, an air of well-being and timelessness was evident to anyone who walked around the town or entered into conversation with a resident. It seemed to be a place that would never change.
In 1986 the debt-free Pacific Lumber Company, with assets that included the largest privately owned stands of old-growth redwood forest in the world, was bought in a Reagan era hostile takeover by the Maxaam Corporation. To pay for the junk bonds issued to purchase the company, Pacific Lumber changed its forestry practices--once praised by environmentalists--greatly accelerating cutting the ancient forests on its lands. In the years that followed, the company was the focus of considerable controversy and the future of the community was uncertain. Bankruptcy in 2007 was followed by the breakup and sale of the company in 2008. The fate of the town is still in question in 2010.
The Scotia portfolio includes numerous photographs, taken mostly between 1982 and 1990, of the town, the workplace, and Scotia residents. In 1988 I interviewed members of different generations of longtime Scotia families on their views about the town and their work.
Technical Note: All photographs are black and white, taken with a 4 x 5 view camera. Copyright © Ellen Land-Weber 1982-1990. Written permission is required for reproduction by any means worldwide.
Click on a picture to see an enlarged view.