After 141 years, company town faces the end of its history (California)





SCOTIA, California -- Along with the scent of freshly cut redwood, an air of uncertainty hangs over this idyllic Northern California logging town.

Mel Berti feels it from behind the butcher counter at Hoby's Market, where he has greeted lumber mill workers and their families by name for three decades.

Nodding toward the tidy streets and rows of whitewashed bungalows outside, he wonders what the Scotia he knows will look like in another 10 years — now that its days as a company town, one of the last in America, are numbered.

"It's not getting any better than it is now, I'll tell you that," said Berti, 67. "There's not a town around that looks this nice while being maintained as a regular town."

After 141 years as Scotia's only employer, landlord and property manager, Pacific Lumber Co. is getting out of the real estate business. Citing declining timber prices and a need to raise cash, its Houston-based parent company, Maxxam Inc., plans to sell Scotia's 270 homes, stores, pair of churches, hotel, museum, movie theater and recreation center in 2007.

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