"Timbered Texas" (Texas lumber industry overview, 1900)  
     
 

Source: "Timbered Texas", Galveston Daily News, January 1, 1900.
Note: Portions of the original page text are illegible to the transcriber. We have attempted to note all such gaps in the transcribed text.

 
 
 
 
 

The manufacture of lumber constitutes one of the leading industries of the state of Texas, an industry that has been very prominent in the public view during the past twelve months because of the unusually heavy demand for the product and the consequent stiffening of prices. It has not been so long since the lumber makers had their troubles, and people who were engaged in other lines of business passed the lumber camps and sawmill towns with pitying eyes. But, it is said, all things come to him who waits, and the lumberman who held on to his plant and backed it up with some thousands of acres of good timber land is having his inning. The men who are producing yellow pine today need not chase customers - it is the other way - and yellow pine, in a degree, is almost as precious as yellow gold. Indeed over in the prosperous lumber towns of the yellow pine belt, the people will tell you that “lumber is money”, and while it is rather too bulky to find favor as a circulating medium, it finds such ready sale that it approximates the quality of money in this, that people desire to possess it.

And Texas has lots of this lumber for sale - to be more exact Texas is producing a great deal of lumber which is being sold as rapidly as it is turned out, and many big saws are shirring away almost ceaselessly sawing millions of feet of boards and planks and sticks, and eating great holes in the extensive forests of the eastern part of the state.

Almost the entire eastern portion of Texas is timbered, and nearly every count in that section produces more or less lumber. The lower half, however, originally comprised the greatest forests, not only in extent, in timber per given area, and in the type and quality of that timber. Further than this, the upper half, being first generally penetrated by railroads, was first subjected to the woodman’s ax; the merchantable timber has been largely cut out, and the sawmill industry through that territory is comparatively limited. The southeastern portion of the state comprises the great long leaf pine forests, as well as much short leaf pine. In this district, during recent years, there has been great activity in lumber making and many modern plants of great capacity have been installed.

Statistics of the capacity and output of the lumber mills of Texas are not available for the reason that no effort has bee recently made to keep track of such informations. Every man who has come through the south representing the lumber journals of the north and northwest has found difficulty in obtaining anything like accurate information as to the amount of production and capacity of mills. At a meeting of the Southern lumber manufacturers’ association, held in St. Louis last November, a letter from Mr. J. E. Defebaugh, editor of the American Lumberman of Chicago, in which he asked that steps be taken to collect statistics in the south, similar to the plan which has been pursued for a great many years in the white pine country, was read, and it is probable an effort will be made in line with the suggestion. The Houston lumber exchange, recently organized, also purposes compiling the statistics relating to the production and sale of lumber in Texas and in western Louisiana. Manufacturers of the intelligent class regard the a since of statistics as against their interests, because they are not certainly apprised of what is being manufactured in the country and where it is being sold. Such statistics would inform the country of the status of the industry and be the means of increasing the standing and credit of the manufacturers.

* * * *

In the absence, therefore, of the statistics covering the entire lumber region of the state, estimates have been sought from the best informed and most trustworthy sources -- manufacturers, who arrive at their figures by adding to the known quantity the output of the leading mills engaged in the manufacture of lumber for commercial purposes, a fair allowance for a number of small mills recently installed, but not definitely reported, besides a fair allowance for a number of small mills engaged merely in catering to local trade.

Mr. Sam Park, secretary of the Industrial lumber company, said to a News commissioner that he would regard 450,000,000 to 500,000,00 feet as a conservative estimate of the yellow pine lumber produced by Texas mills in a year. It required 50,000 acres of timber to supply the logs for this lumber, and it is worth, as it stand in the woods, $750,000, and, when sawn into lumber is worth to the manufacturers $65,000,000.

Mr. R. E. Kelly of Beaumont, conceded to the be one of the best posted men in Texas on the lumber industry estimates the capacity of the Texas sawmills. Including also those at Lake Charles and Westlake, La., the product of which is marketed through Texas, at 3,000,000 feet daily, and the annual output at about 800,000,000 feet.

Mr. Nate Crary, secretary of the Texas Tram and Lumber Company, estimating on the same mills, said he would place the output at nearer 900,000,000 feet than 800,000,000 feet.

* * * *

Texarkana leads any other town in Texas in the number of sawmills and the capacity of same, but it is not proper to treat Texarkana entirely as a Texas town, for it straddles the Arkansas-Texas state line, and some of the mills are located on the Arkansas side. The lumber is brought almost exclusively from Arkansas. At that point there are located five large mills, each with a capacity of 150,00 feet daily, besides eight smaller mills with a combined capacity of about 600,000 feet.

Exclusive of this half-Texas town, engaged in the manufacture of Arkansas timber, the principal seat of the manufacture of lumber is in the extreme southeastern portion of the state, along the line of the Southern Pacific, the Sabine and East Texas, the Gulf, Beaumont and Kansas City, the Trinity and Sabine (Missouri, Kansas and Texas) and the Houston East and West Texas railroads, while diverging from the latter and along the line of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe (Montgomery branch) and also along the St. Louis Southwestern (Tyler Southeastern division), as well as on the International and Great Northern, there are a number of important mills.

Of the lumber manufacturing points wholly within the state of Texas, Orange leads in point of production. There are at that point a double mill, having a daily capacity of 150,000 feet; three mills each having a daily capacity of 90,000 feet and one mill having a daily capacity of 75,000 feet. Each of the mills have planer plants attached, and there is also a shingle mill of large capacity. All the logs used at the Orange mills are brought down the Sabine river in rafts, trams being used to get the logs to the river. Some trouble was experienced last summer by reason of low water, and the log supply was curtailed, but a tram road is now being built down the river a sufficient distance to insure a supply of water sufficient to float the logs at all times. There is also a mill located at Grigsby’s bluff, on the Sabine river north of Orange, the daily capacity of which is 60,000 feet.

Beaumont, while not producing as much lumber as Orange, is a very important lumber center, because of the industries there established which are allied to the manufacture, and which send considerable quantities of the products of the forest out in a finished state, and because of the many mills located within a short distance of that city upon lines tributary to it, and which sell their product through Beaumont.

There are located at Beaumont three saw mills, each with a daily capacity of 90,000 feet. Each of them has a planing mill attached, and the three employ about 500 men. In the line of allied industries, one of the mills has a very extensive plant devoted to the manufacture of doors, sash, blinds, interior finish, bank and bar fixtures, desks, etc., and there is also an independent establishment which is engaged in the same line of manufacture on a large scale. In connection with one of the mills there is a lath factory. Allied with another mill there is a stave factory operated by the salt works of Hutchinson, Kan., which makes the staves and beadings for its salt barrels by resawing and utilizing the pieces from the slabs, which until recently were used for fuel or burned in piles to et them out of the way. In connection with the same mill there is also operated a factory for the manufacture of cross arms and poles for electric wires, and there is also an independent factory engaged in the same line. A shipyard has also been established, and several large barges have been constructed; one of the largest dredges in the country is now in course of construction. There is also a large creosoting works devoted to the treatment of ties, piling and lumber by the various preservative processes. It has a daily capacity of 50,000 feet, board measure, and during the present year the capacity will be doubled. The use of preserved goods in railroad and wharf construction has become so popular in recent years that it makes this industry a very important one. There is also a shingle mill at Beaumont with 50,000 capacity daily. The logs which supply the Beaumont mills are brought to that point by raft, chiefly from Jasper and Newton counties, under a milling in transit arrangement by which the lumber rate is applied from the point of log shipment to the destination of the lumber, and which is very satisfactory to the manufacturers. One mill is supplied at a distance of 26 miles, another at 40 miles and the third at 55 miles.

There is a mil located a short distance south of Beaumont and one a short distance north of town, on the Neches River, both of which utilize the river as the agency for transportation. These mills each have a daily capacity of about 50,000 feet.

The influence of the manufacturing and trading in lumber at Beaumont and of the allied industries before mentioned is reflected in the bustling activity and general prosperous aspect of the young city, and added to the other manufacturing establishments of that place, make it quite an important industrial and trade center.

Radiating from Beaumont and tributary to it are the Sabine and East Texas and the Gulf, Beaumont and Kansas City railroads, along which lines are a good may large sawmills.

The extension of the two lines, now under way, will open up a vast area of the best timber lands of Texas. The last mentioned line is extensively engaged in logging the sawmills at Beaumont. Along this railroad there are sawmills located at the following points: Aldredge, daily capacity 25,000 feet; the mill at Call was recently burned, but is being rebuilt and will have a capacity of 100,000 feet; Silsbee, 80,000 feet.

Along the line of the Sabine and East Teas, there are mills as follows: Hooks switch, 60,000 feet; Olive, 80,000 feet; Village Mills, 90,000 feet; Hyatt, 90,000 feet, with planer; Warren, two mills, 175,000 feet; Rockland, 100,000 feet. There are smaller mills at Doucette and Carroll.

* * * *

Connecting with the Sabine and East Texas at Colmesneil, and with the Houston East and West Texas at Corrigan, and the International and Great Northern at Trinity, is the Trinity and Sabine railroad, along with route mills are located as follows: Saron, 75,000 feet; Groveton, 150,000 feet; Josserand’s, 50,000 feet; Asia, 50,000 feet; Willard, 50,000 feet; Hampton, 35,000 feet; Mobile, 50,000 feet; Carmona, 50,000 feet.

On the line of the Houston East and West Texas railway, there are mills located as follows: Humble, 50,000 feet; Spencer, 30,000 feet; Lima, 25,000 feet; Napier, 50,000 feet; Keno, 40,000 feet; Valda, 60,000 feet; Holtshausen, 60,000 feet; Corrigan, 60,000 feet; Fant, 30,000 feet; Emporia, 75,000 feet; Deboe, 75,000 feet; Angelina, 85,000 feet; Royal, 35,000 feet; Blair, 20,000 feet; Timpson, three mills, each having a daily capacity of 40,000 feet; Tenaha, 35,000 feet; Joaquin, 25,000 feet; Hanson’s Switch, 15,000 feet.

On the Tyler Southeastern division of the St. Louis Southwestern railway, mills are located as follows: Keltys, 75,000 feet; Clawson’s 50,000 feet; Wells, 25,000 feet; Baker, 20,000 feet; Forrest, two mills, combined capacity, 40,000 feet, and a small mill at Pollok. A modern mill is also being erected at Lufkin, and will have a daily capacity of about 75,000 feet.

Along the line of the Montgomery branch of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe, mill are located as follows: Tharp, 40,000 feet; Arnold Switch, 50,000 feet; Beach, 60,000 feet; San Jacinto, 40,000 feet; Waukegan, 35,000 feet; Pocahontas, 25,000 feet; Magnolia, 35,000 feet; Clinesburg, 35,000 feet; Reddick, 35,000 feet. There is also a planing mill at Clinesburg, and one at Montgomery, each with a daily capacity of 50,000 feet.

Along the line of the International and Great Northern railroad there are the following sawmills: Dodge, two mills, combined capacity, 90,000 feet; Waverly, 60,000 feet; Tamina, two mills, 75,000 feet; Trinity, 50,000 feet; Longview, 60,000 feet; Kilgore, 40,00 feet.

Exclusive of Texarkana, the principal point of lumber manufacture in northeastern Texas is Jefferson, at the junction of the Texas and Pacific and Sherman, Shreveport & Southern (M., K. & T) railways, and also at the head of Red river navigation, where three sawmills and two shingle mills are located.

There are a number of small mills on the main line of the St. Louis Southwestern in Texas, on the Texas & Pacific and the Sherman, Shreveport and Southern.

In addition to the creosoting works at Beaumont, there is a tie and timber treating plant of large capacity located at Somerville, Tex., on the line of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe, which is supplied from the mills and tie camps along the Montgomery branch of that line. The Southern Pacific company maintains a similar plant at Houston, which is used exclusively for the treatment of timbers for the railroad system.

* * * *

Where does the vast quantity of lumber produced by the Texas mills go? Everywhere the sun shines, although the trade is largely with the United States and Mexico. Perhaps not more than 5 per cent of the total output is exported through Sabine Pass, Galveston and New Orleans. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and Pennsylvania take large quantities, which are shipped to the ports of those states on coastwise vessels. Milwaukee is a large consumer of Texas yellow pine lumber, ad shipments are made as far north as St. Paul, Minn., while on the west, San Francisco is an important market for the product of the Texas mills. The various railroads of the United States and Mexico are large users of yellow pine for cars and bridges, and have almost entirely abandoned the use of oak, as yellow pine has almost equal breaking strength, with less weight.

The export trade presents an almost limitless field and a certain outlet for the product of the Texas mills, and although it has been cultivated sufficiently to bring Texas pine into prominence the world over, exporting has not been indulged in except at such times when the demand at home slackened. Nevertheless the world is the field of the Texas mills, especially of those located close to the coast, and they can deliver lumber in any port of Europe or South America as cheaply as to Nebraska points. The lumber manufacturers have made a study of the different markets and have sought to accommodate them with what they want. A special lumber is mule for Germany, known as “German pines”, while England is supplied with large quantities of deals. South American countries are easy of access to the Texas mills, and large quantities of lumber are sold in those markets, especially in the Argentine Republic. The South American dealers prefer their lumber in the rough and they do the finishing themselves. They regrade the lumber, raising it somewhat in grade above the classification of the manufacturers. Same buy only square timber and saw it up to suit their trade. Extensive shipments are also made to Cuba and Puerto Rico and some shipments are made to South Africa.

During the ware between the United States and Spain rates for ocean tonnage ran so high that it made the exportation of lumber difficult, and after the war tonnage still continued high and the domestic demand became so active that manufacturers have of late somewhat neglected the export trade and given almost their undivided attention to the supplying of the unprecedented home demand. The export trade is very satisfactory, and is very gladly availed of when the domestic markets are less persistent in their demands. The buyers of lumber for export inspect it on the spot and pay for the lumber as soon as it is thrown in the water, and that is the end of it so far as the manufacturer is concerned. Notwithstanding the export trade is not being particularly sought at this time, the foreign demand is still active and manufacturers are daily receiving letters from European houses asking them to agree to sell lumber for delivery next year and offering to pay for it as soon as it is piled up in the yards.

Mexico is a large customer for Texas lumber, and there is a practically no limit to the trade with that country. Shipments are made to every part of the republic, even to the southernmost border. The lumber for Mexico is shipped very largely by water when tonnage is in good supply; otherwise the shipments are made by rail, going through Laredo, Eagle Pass and El Paso. Large shipments are also made to Yucatan, these entirely by water.

* * * *

During the three years previous to the last there was an unusual depression in the lumber market, injurious principally because of an uneven demand, causing an accumulation of certain grades of lumber in the yards in producing other grades for which orders were in hand, and while some profit was made in the “bill stuff”, the accumulated stocks of slower going stuff were in some instances disposed of at less than the proportionate cost of production which they should ultimately bear. The past year has witnessed a remarkable succession of advances in lumber prices, the result of the very active and unusual domestic demand, backed up by a healthy demand from the foreign trade. With people running around after the [illegible] with orders for lumber and all kinds of timber product, and the mills unable to keep up with orders, the advance in prices was but the [illegible] and result of the [illegible] of the immutable law of supply and demand. A new feature in the situation was that the northwestern lumber dealers came to Texas for their supplies of flooring and similar stuff not previously procured in this part of the world. This was due to the falling off in the white pine supply, and the conditions in the northwestern territory warranting an advance, the mills of the southern pine belt naturally followed suit.

It would be impossible to make statement of the general advance in prices, either in dollars and cents or by percentages, because of the varying conditions at the different mills both before the progressive movement set in and at the present time, the mills running upon different classes of lumber, upon contracts of varying dates and consequently varying prices. The statement, however, that prices have advanced from $2.50 to $5 a thousand feet will cover the case and afford some idea of the state of the lumber industry in Texas from the standpoint of profitableness. The mills, taken as a whole have not made the enormous profits accredited to them by the public, for the reason that many of them had, before the upward movement began, booked large orders at the low scale of prices, and a considerable period of the past year has been used up in working out these orders; and then the higher scale of prices has served to bring some of the slower moving grades of the non-profit paying column to a point where there is some margin on the right side of the ledger. But the old contracts have been taken care of, the mills have of late been running on new orders, placed at higher rates, and the year’s operations will yield a generally satisfactory result.

A further idea of the increased value of lumber may be obtained from the comparative statement of one of the leading companies operating mills in Texas and Louisiana. The average price of the lumber handled by that company in July, 1898, was $6.66 per thousand; in July 1899, the average price was $8.72; in August, 1899 $8.83, and for November the average price was about $10.50. Further advances are expected.

* * * *

The extent of the timber supply of Texas, and the probable time which it will last, are subjects over which there has been no little controversy, and upon which rather widely divergent views are entertained. The timber supply is, of course, an unmeasured quantity, and the ideas concerning it are, of course, based upon estimates, and the estimates of different men pieced together at that. Obviously the rate of exhaustion and the period of final and complete extinction are very largely dependent upon the extent of the demand which the Texas forests will be called upon to supply. Recently there has been an increased draft upon the yellow pine belt, because, as a Texas manufacturer expressed it, “The timber in the white pine belt is playing out like a snow bank in Hades”, and some of the manufacturers of that region are coming south with tremendous mills and abundant capital to operate on yellow pine on a large scale. One of these northern companies recently entered Louisiana with an extensive plant and a capital of considerably over a million dollars.

The latest available estimates of the timber supply of Texas are constituted in an estimate made by the division of forestry, United States department of agriculture, in 1898, and in an estimate made in July of that year by Mr. Mark Wiess of Beaumont, and transmitted to the division or forestry as a commentary on the government estimates. Mr. Wiess’ estimate appears in the first two columns of the subjoined table, and the government estimate in the third column (the figures expressing millions of feet):

[Table, transcribed here unformatted]

County, Long leaf, Short leaf, Government Estimate

Newton, 1500, 50, 1500
Jasper, 1500, 50, 1200
Tyler, 700, 50, 1500
Angelina, 700, 150, 1000
Sabine, 600, 50, 1100
San Augustine, 500, 50, 800
Polk, 400, 200, 2000
Trinity, 200, 300, 1400
Hardin, 150, 100, 1800
Nacogdoches, 100, 300, 1900
Orange, 50, 15, 500
Gregg, -- , 60, 500
Wood, -- , 180, 1000
Harrison, -- , 100, 1600
Smith, -- , 60, 1250
Morris, -- , 25, 500
Anderson, -- , 60, 1200
Houston, -- , 100, 2500
Panola, -- , 200, 1600
Rusk, -- , 150, 1800
Cass, -- , 100, 1900
Upshur, -- , 200, 600
Shelby, -- , 40, 1600
Liberty, -- , 300, 2000
Harris, -- ,50, 1500
Montgomery, -- ,100, 2000
Walker, -- ,100, 1500
San Jacinto, -- ,400, 1200
Bowie, -- , -- , 1500
Franklin, -- , -- , 300
Camp, -- , -- , 250
Red River, -- , -- , 600
Cherokee, -- , -- , 2000
Marion, -- , -- , 800
Madison, -- , -- , 200
Titus, -- , -- , 650
Hopkins, -- , -- , 650
Henderson, -- , -- , 600

Totals: 6400, 3900, 46,600

In Transmitting his estimate to the division of forestry, Mr. Wiess made the following statement:

“The figures on the right are copied from the forestry bulletins issued by the government and represent the government estimate. They make a total of 46,600,000,000 feet, while my estimates are 6,400,000,000 feet of long leaf and 3,900,000,000 feet of short leaf - a total of 10,300,000,000 feet. While this difference may strike you as being large, I am quite sure my estimate upon the whole is full. You will observe that I have left out of the estimate the counties of Bowie, Franklin, Camp, Red River, Cherokee, Marion, Madison, Titus, Hopkins and Henderson. This was not done without due investigation. While there are some small scattered patches here and there in the counties named, it is only available for neighborhood use, and much of it is being deadened and destroyed by the farmers who are clearing it away for the purpose of making fields. There are only four mills of any considerable capacity in that section of the state, or that are sawing for shipment away from their immediate neighborhood. The following is a list of them: One at Jefferson that procured its log supply from the western part of Cass county; another at Longview that is being logged from Upshur and Harrison; a third at Gilmer that is also being logged from Upshur; the fourth at Winnsboro that procures its log supply from Wood county.”

* * * *

Lumber manufacturers are now looking forward with a great deal of interest to the result of an investigation which the forestry division has ordered made of the timber resources of Texas. Prof. Wm. L. Bray of the school of botany, university of Texas, has been appointed to prepare a report, the intention being that he, as a botanist, shall discuss the conditions which influence the growth in this state, and that he shall make a list of the actual species of their range, frequency and size, as well as their rate of growth in different sections of the state. He had also been commissioned to map the areas over the entire state, and discuss for economic and practical purposes the forest resources of Texas. Some of the items concerning the information desired are as follows:

1. The total annual cut of pine and hardwoods as late as 1898, or during the twelve months from October 1, 1898 to October 1, 1899.

2. To what markets shipped, in what form, in what quantity.

3. The acreage of long leaf pine now standing, and classification of same - i.e. feet of timber per acre. Ownership of same.

4. The same of short leaf pine.

5. Extent to which Texas hardwoods are cut and sawed.

6. Acreage of long and short leaf pine already cut. Condition of cut-over areas, etc.

One of the most prominent lumbermen of Texas, who has given particular attention to the study of lumber, when asked about the estimates above quoted, said he regarded Mr. Wiess as a splendid authority upon the subject; still, in his individual opinion, Mr. Wiess was about as much too low as the government was too high, and he believed an average between the two extremes would come pretty near expressing the true available supply of timber in Texas.

* * * *

Mr. W. A. Fletcher, one of Texas’ pioneer lumbermen, has this to say concerning the timber supply:

“There is a good deal of timber standing in the country today which seems to have been lost sight of and which people do not seem to take into account. The lumber industry in this part of the country will be grinding long years after some people claim it will have ceased. The yellow pine district is a pine farm on which the timber grows and comes again as a second crop. In going over the lands for sawmill timber, the lumbermen cut off the trees that will make merchantable lumber. The smaller trees then left keep on growing and in a few years they have become large enough for lumber. The ‘cut-over’ land produces lots of mill timber. The average pine grows one-fourth to three-eighths of an inch in diameter yearly. There is plenty of timber for the present generation, and no one need fear for it. The value of pine lands has recently been advanced to the basis for which the stumpage has been soiling. Formerly one could buy the lands by the acre a great deal cheaper than he could buy the stumpage. Stumpage ranges from $1.25 to $1.50 per thousand feet; pine lands fairly timbered sell for $5 to $12 an acre.

“The south undoubtedly as a great wealth in lumber, something which was looked upon a few years ago as nothing. Texas is especially well located for a profitable lumber trade on account of being so near the great prairie districts of the west and southwest and Mexico, consequently our timber lands are higher priced than those of Louisiana. Deep water at Galveston, Sabine Pass and New Orleans also gives this region a very decided advantage.”

Concerning the timber supply and other features of the lumber manufacturing industry, Mr. W. E. Kelly said: “The timber resources have been immensely decreased; that is a matter about which the public is greatly misinformed. It is supposed that the report of the commissioner of agriculture, insurance, statistics and history of the state of Texas is correct -- that when he says the timber supply of Texas is practically inexhaustible, it s so. Any man who rides along the railroads which penetrate the pineries and sees the great area cut away, and views the wrecks of sawmills fallen into disuse because of the exhaustion of timber supply, will very readily understand that timber is exhausted as easily as anything else that grows. That is shown, too, by the recent increase in the price of timber lands. It was only during the last session of the legislature, or immediately thereafter, that the state land commissioner withdrew all state school lands from the market and advanced the prices, so that lands which could be bought four years ago at $4 to $5 an acre are today sold at $10 to $12 an acre. There has been a scramble or timber lands by mill men who operate in Texas and by the white pine men who have cut away their timber supplies in Michigan and Wisconsin and elsewhere in that region. It is a very difficult thing now to find a body of 20,000 acres of good pine lands on the market except at fancy prices. I know of a sale quite recently of 18,000 acres at $18 an acre. This increase in the price of timber lands, to a greater extent than has been supposed, is responsible or the heavy advance in the price of lumber, so it is pretty well assured that lumber will never again go as low as it was last year even (1898).

“The northwestern portion of the state, which was formerly nearly a well timbered as the southeastern portion, has been practically cut away and the lumber production in that part of the state amounts to very little. In the northeastern counties, Bowie, Cass, Harrison, Morris, Titus, Smith, Rusk, Panola and Cherokee counties, there is little or no first-class timber left. Angelina, Polk, Trinity, Shelby and Nacogdoches counties have been cut on a great deal, but there is still a good lot of timber left and they have some large mills in operation. San Jacinto still has some good tracts of short leaf pine, and there are scattered tracts in Liberty, Houston, Montgomery and Walker counties. Tyler and Hardin counties have a good lot of timber. The forests of Sabine and San Augustine counties have not yet been worked upon to any considerable extent. Jasper and Newton counties now constitute the principal source of supply for the mills in the Beaumont district.

“The building of the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf railroad very materially increased the demand upon this district for lumber. Following the completion of that line, the railways of the northwest came here with immense orders for car sills and ties and timbers, and the great agricultural implement manufacturing houses up there, the Deerings, C___ and McCormicks, have been buying their stocks here, greatly swelling the demand upon our forests.

“The great demand for ties and induced a number of people to engage in the manufacture of hewn ties. They go through the ‘cut-over’ lands and fell everything that will make a hewn tie. If this timber were allowed to stand it would in a few years grow large enough for sawmill timber, but anything which is large enough to make a tie 6x8 inches, 8 feet long, is hacked down.

“The processes for the treatment of woods have been the cause of men getting in the ___ with little portable mills which they locate along the bayous and branches, where nothing grows but branch pine, full of sap, loblolly. This, when creosoted is as good as any other timber for the purposes which it is split. Thus everything which can be made into lumber is being utilized.

“In this state there is very little timber owned by speculators, like the Gould estate for instance, which owns immense tracts of yellow pine lands in Louisiana, as __ne as any in that state, or like the ____ in the northwest, the riches of the retired lumbermen. They knew the history of the timber supply in that country and expected it to be repeated down here. They will get as much as $15 or $20 an acre for lands that cost them but $3 or $4 an acre.

“Mr. Kirby, who built the Gulf, Beaumont and Kansas City railroad, made it a point with his associates in the east to buy as much timber as possible along their line of railroad and through the territory into which they projected their lines. Mr. Kirby said his idea in so doing was to keep the timber from falling into the hands of speculators, who would deprive the road for many years of the tonnage to which it was justly entitled by holding it indefinitely for fancy prices. So as an officer of the road and the Pineland association, he guarded the interests of the property by buying this timber, and they are now inviting men to come in and buy it on a stumpage basis or to buy the lands for the purpose of sawing the timber.

“The mills at Beaumont are splendidly supplied with timber and have sufficient to un them for twenty-five years. The Lutcher & Moore lumber company at Orange owns extensive tracts in Calcasieu Parish, La., and they have recently made some large purchases in Newton and Sabine counties, Texas. The Bancroft lumber company at Orange has also made a purchase of some 20,000 acres in this section and are building a tram road to the river. Mr. Gilmer, whose mill at Orange was burned some time ago, has been buying timber for the purpose of again engaging in the manufacture of lumber. He owns some timber in Louisiana which is not now accessible.

“The good prices that have been obtained for lumber during the last half of the year have caused a good many men who already owned or could buy timber to project new mills, and I suppose there will be something of a spurt in sawmill building during the coming year wherever there is a good supply of timber. Manufacturers are constantly improving their plants and availing themselves of the latest improvements in machinery, and opportunity to save even 2 cents a thousand in the cost of manufacture being sufficient inducement for the setting aside of old machinery.

“The hardwood timber of Texas has not yet been worked to any considerable extent. Walnut, wherever found, has been cut out and exported in the rough to Hamburg. A good deal of oak was exported last year, and one hardwood mill was built at the present terminus of the Gulf, Beaumont and Kansas City railroad in Jasper county. The builder of that mill intends also to put in a larger plant. He came here from Indiana, where he was previously engaged in the manufacture of hardwood lumber, and he classes the hardwood timber of Texas, oak an ash, as being equal to that of Indiana. Hyatt & Bro. Are about to build another mill on the line of the Gulf, Beaumont and Kansas City for the manufacture of hardwood lumber and have been buying all the good hardwood timber they could find. There is an extensive plant at Wallisville, with a capacity of 60,000 feet daily, which will manufacture ash, oak, walnut and cottonwood, shipping the product on barges to Galveston and Houston. There are small hardwood mills at Dayton and Liberty on the line of the Southern Pacific railroad.

“The manufacturers are experimenting with hardwoods heretofore regarded merely as nuisances. For instance, tupelo gum is a beautiful tree, but the wood is soft and spongy; it has not been considered as useful until the last year or two. I saw a statement in The News recently to the effect that Fall & Schureman of Houston had gotten the L. Miller lumber company to saw 125,000 feet of this tupelo gum as an experiment. There is a world of this timber along the river bottoms in this country, and I have no doubt it will come into use for boxes, curtain poles, furniture backs, fruit crates, egg cases, etc.

“The manufacturers are gradually coming to a place a value on timber which five years ago they regarded as worthless, and manufacturing plants are springing up to take advantage of the cheap material which formerly went to waste. Thee are opportunities in Texas for the manufacture of furniture and other articles of wood quite as advantageous as in the lumber districts of the north. Slabs, which until recently were gladly given away to et them off the mill years, are now being resawn and made into staves and heading for salt barrels. The pieces of lumber obtained from the slabs would e light enough for soap boxes and the like if dried. The manufacture of telegraph cross arms has just been begun at Beaumont and the little industries you would naturally expect to find in the neighborhood of sawmills are being established. They are a source of great wealth and importantly in the _______ and they increase the demand for labor.”

 
     
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Text and images were digitized and proofread from the original source documents by Murry Hammond. Contact Murry for all corrections, additions, and contributions of new material.