After minute investigation of the De Soto Land & Lumber Company's resources; the arrangement of its plant near Mansfield; the character of the men who operate its various departments; and having a knowledge of the amount of its profits, the writer (without desiring to make invidious comparisons) must say that it is one among the very first of the model saw mill operations of the United States.
Every statement which will follow -- each one of which has been carefully and thoughtfully weighed -- will form a chain of indisputable facts which will prove the statement contained above, and prove it to any business man in or out of the business of yellow pine lumber, or any other lumber production.
Those in interest in this enterprise are very modest in their assertions, and have given the facts only after much questioning and investigation. And the items of fact have been given by those in interest without any knowledge "born of a hope" as to what they might finally add up to bring about a conclusion.
E. A. and E. W. Frost owned 115,000,000 feet of shortleaf yellow pine timber located in De Soto parish, Louisiana, and in 1904 cast about for a plan for its disposition. The first idea was the sale of it in October of that year to George E. Harris, George H. Byrnes and Thomas Byrnes; but the final result was that the Messrs. Frost concluded to go actively into the creation of a yellow pine manufacturing business at Mansfield, La., having associated with them the gentlemen mentioned; and on January 1, 1905, the De Soto Land & Lumber Company was incorporated by E. A. Frost, Thomas Byrnes, G. E. Harris and G. H. Byrnes. The authorized capital stock of the company at the beginning was $200,000, $100,000 paid in.
Mr. Harris remained with the company only four months, when his interest was sold to E. A. Frost.
A. J. Peavy, now vice president and general manager of the company, was made Mr. Harris, successor and took charge of the business May 1, 1905. All of the land holdings in the beginning were located within twelve miles of Mansfield and they were valued chiefly for the very superior shortleaf yellow pine timber contained thereon. The timber holdings at the present time contain some longleaf yellow pine and much valuable hardwood.
The officers of the company are E. A. Frost, president; A. J. Peavy, vice president and general manager; Thomas Byrnes, secretary; G. H. Byrnes, treasurer.
One of the strongest features of the De Soto Land & Lumber Company is the matter of its superb railway connections. By means of the Mansfield Railway & Transportation Company -- a regularly incorporated traffic line, short it is true but just as effective for transportation purposes as if it were a great trunk Tine -- the plant, which is about two miles south of Mansfield, has direct connection with the Texas & Pacific railway and the Kansas City Southern railway.
On the first Tuesday in January, 1906, the company increased its authorized capital stock to $500,000 and bought the timber holdings and plant of the Noble Lumber Company, Incorporated, at Noble, La., with all its belongings.
Loggings Operations at Mansfield.
Logging camp No. 1 is sixteen miles from the mill, but not even then at the end of the line of the logging railroad.
The people in the camps, the stock and the engines, are supplied with water from both dug and bored wells. The employees in the logging division are about equally divided between white and black and enough camp houses are situated in Camp No. 2 to accommodate all of the seventy-five employees who are interested in that end of the work. The personnel of these employees is made up of many families. Many of the camp houses are portable.
In the logging operations are used 3 horses, 65 mules and 40 oxen. This stock is taken care of in comfortable corrals in Camp No. 1.
The logging is done by contract by Kerr, Burgess & Wilson. The logging is done with an "American" log loader, which this company considers the best in the market and which easily handles daily the 100,000 feet of logs necessary to have handled to keep pace with the smooth running saw at the plant near Mansfield. The management considers that this loader will handle the logs better and more of them at less expense for repairs than any similar machine in the field. With this machine has been loaded as high a 90,000 feet of logs in five hours, with four men, and the machine is not usually in service more than eight hours a day.
It is the policy of the De Soto Land & Lumber Company to have its contractors keep a large supply of logs, running into millions of feet, at all times along the right of way of the logging road and its spurs, for immediate loading, and at no time in the history of the company has the mill at Mansfield been out of logs. The loggers deliver three trains daily to the pond, aggregating all told about forty-five cars each day.
Camp No. 1 is about twelve miles from Mansfield, where live the loading crew and the train men interested in the woods operations.
Logging Road at Mansfield.
The logging road at Mansfield deserves a special department in this article, because it is one of the best equipped and most successfully run lines of logging railways in the southwest.
There is laid at present six miles of 56-pound steel, five miles of 52-pound steel and eight miles of 35-pound steel. There are employed in the manipulation of the road 31 men.
As all the locomotives are rod affairs, and as they are expected to travel as rapidly practically as if they were run over a trunk line, the grading, the ties and the laying out of this road through the rolling land of De Soto parish have been done as carefully and with as much engineering skill as if it had been expected to make the road a traffic line permanently. These locomotives consist of a 40-ton main line Baldwin, a 35-ton Pittsburg and a 35-ton Grant. The logging cars are 52 in number.
In service is a Fairbanks-Morse motor car of No. 15 type, which R. J. Wilson, the railroad superintendent and member of the logging firm of Kerr, Burgess & Wilson, uses in connection with his work.
The fifty-two logging cars have 30-inch wheels with 4-1/2x8-inch journals, are fitted with 10-foot bunks, have 60,000 capacity and are capable of carrying from 3,000 to 5,000 feet of short logs each, in wide, high loads. There are exceptional telephone facilities, as located along this road is a branch line of the Southwestern Telephone Company. The trains are manipulated by telephone.
The logs are dumped into a made pond at the mill, which covers fifteen acres and will hold not less than 2,000,000 feet of logs. This pond was made by damming a ravine, an embankment having been thrown up twelve feet high, forty feet thick at the base, with a crown of twenty feet in width. This pond is furnished with water by a supply from natural springs and from rains.
Saw Mill at Mansfield.
The saw mill at Mansfield stands in general direction east and west, about 400 feet from the Kansas City Southern railway track, one and one-half miles south of the Kansas City Southern railway depot.
This mill was built in 1905. It was begun March 3 and turned over first at 6:30 p.m., June 29, 1905. It is contained in a building 40x160 feet in area. The haul-up is in the west end and is 250 feet long.
The foundations of the building are of solid brick. There is a separate foundation under each machine on the saw floor.
In the construction of the building proper the framing of the underwork is 12x12. The first story is 16 feet, this being the highest type now used in saw mill construction. The next floor is ten feet in the clear and the framing is 10x10. On this floor, of course, is the saw mill proper. The top story is used for a filing room and is 40x40 feet in area.
The boiler and engine room, built of frame and galvanized iron, is located on the south side of the saw mill, with a fire wall between it and the saw mill building seventeen inches thick, running up to a height of 21 feet. The boiler room division of this room is 40x36 feet and contains two 72-inch by 18 feet Casey & Hedges boilers in marine settings. There are also two Filer & Stowell water feed pumps in the room with the boilers.
The boiler house and engine room should really be considered together, and if so considered the room is 40x60 feet in area. The engine is a Filer & Stowell rocking valve type affair, 24x30 inches. Sawdust is used for fuel and the furnaces are fed automatically. There is a reserve store room for sawdust storage, 16x30 feet in size. The boilers and the engine mentioned furnish and transmit the power to the saw mill, the trimmer, the edger, the haul-up chain, the transfer chain and the fire pump. There is a small 6x8 supplementary engine in the filing room so that the machinery there can be operated independent of the main engine. The smokestack is 60 inches in diameter by 92 feet in height.
On the saw floor is a Filer & Stowell band saw with 12-inch face and 8-foot wheel. The carriage is a 3-block affair and will cut up to 26 feet. There is on the saw floor a Filer & Stowell 60-inch 6-saw edger. The trimmer is also a Filer & Stowell, an 11-saw machine. The shotgun feed is a Filer & Stowell 12-lnch. The file room is fitted with M. Covel Manufacturing Company automatic machinery. This mill is now run twenty hours daily, Sundays excepted. It is shut down at 12 o’clock Saturday night and begins again at 6 o’clock Monday morning. This mill has produced in eleven hours 72,175 feet of inch boards, that being its banner run.
The Planing Mill at Mansfield.
The planing mill is situated 400 feet north of the saw mill, and stands north and south in general direction. It is 80x140 feet in area. The structure is built six feet off the ground in order to meet the requirements of the loading trams. The boilers are housed in a building south of the south end of the planing mill building in a frame affair covered with sheet iron. There is in this boiler house a brick shaving vault, 20x24x24 feet. One branch of the pipe which reaches from the top of the planer terminates at this vault, the other at the fire pit. The branch to the fire pit is 700 feet long and 27 inches in diameter. The branch of the short pipe to the vault is 20 inches in diameter. The cyclone blower in use was put in by the Shreveport Blow Pipe & Sheet Iron Works, Limited.
Between the boiler house and the planing mill proper is a brick fire wall which is 17 inches thick and 27 feet high. The boilers and engines are all in one room. The boilers are two in number, 18 inches by 72 feet, made by Casey & Hedges, in marine setting, with separate fires. The engine is a Filer & Stowell, 18x80 inches in size, and of the rocking valve typo. The house which contains this machinery is 38x60 foot.
The planing mill machinery consists of one 8x15 matcher, two 4x15 matchers, one 3x7 matcher, one 15-inch molder, one rip saw and one 7-inch molder, made by the Hall & Brown Woodworking Machine Company, of St. Louis; one 2-saw Hoyt edger; one W. B. Mershon resaw with a 5-foot wheel; one knife grinder and one double emery stand. There is a complete shop in connection with the planing mill, with all the complementary knife grinding machinery and the various tools for keeping the planing mill in order.
Handling Lumber at Mansfield.
The lumber from the saw mill is delivered to a chain sorter 140 feet long over all, which runs north from a point near the east end of the saw mill. A little further east is another chain sorter with two chains, of about the same length. All the common lumber is taken off the original 3-chain sorter on the left hand or west side of the sorter. This common lumber is put on "dollies" moved by hand and carried to yards and stacked. The dollies used on the yard for this purpose are thirty-eight in number.
The "B and better" up to 16 feet in length goes straight ahead on this first 3-chain affair; the 1-inch "B and better" up to 16 feet stays on original chains and is stacked direct by hand by two men. Then it goes into the dry kilns 75 feet farther north.
The "B and better," all thicknesses over 1 inch and all lengths of 16 feet, is thrown over on to the other set of transfer chains. This is done easily by a "hurry-up" chain. The long and thick "B and better" is transferred to the end of the chains, stacked on kiln ears and run to the dry kilns. Two men stack the lumber for the dry kilns.
The trams out to the yards start at an elevation of nine feet and run to a point, each one where that elevation permits them to strike the ground. The yard at Mansfield slopes rapidly from the back toward the front, where the planing mill, sheds etc. stand.
The dry kilns are of the Standard variety, consist of four rooms and are located 180 feet north of the saw mill.
Three of these rooms are 17x110 feet in area and the other is 21x110 feet. Crosswise piling is in vogue These rooms hold 300,000 feet of lumber and turn out 60,000 feet daily. The steam for the dry kilns is obtained at the planing mill.
About 200 feet northwest from the dry kilns are two sheds for rough lumber (or rather one shed with a small interval between), this structure being, all told, 63x250 feet in area, holding 1,500,000 feet. Sixty feet north of the rough shed is a shed for dressed lumber, 63x280 feet, which holds 1,500,000 feet of lumber.
There are about 5,000 feet of tram way in the yards and appropriate docks for the proper handling of cars, all of which are weighed in and out on a Buda (Ill.) Foundry & Scale Company scale of 150,000 capacity, 40 feet in length.
Mercantile End at Mansfield.
The store at Mansfield employs five people in its operation, which is in the interest of the employees of the company in the broadest and most particular sense.
The business of this store for 1906 amounted to over $135,000. The store carries largely a line of the most staple goods and is operated on as small a margin as is practicable for the carrying on of the business, this in the interest of the employees. There is a separate meat market next to the store where all kinds of Kansas City meats are sold.
Electric Light at Mansfield.
The electric light plant at Mansfield is located in the planing mill and the dynamo is a 30-kilowat machine. The engine is a 10x14 automatic, enclosed, self-oiling and of the Erie City Iron Works make, and has run a year and one-half without having to be adjusted in any particular.
The dynamo was made by the Triumph Electrical Company, of Cincinnati, Ohio, and runs altogether 350 to 400 16-candlepower lights and 9 arc lights.
Machine Shop at Mansfield.
The De Soto Land & Lumber Company is especially fortunate in that, located on the line of the Mansfield Railway & Transportation Company, not more than three-quarters of a mile from the plant of the De Soto Foundry & Machine Company, Limited, are a modern iron and brass foundry and a complete custom machine shop, where can be handled the manufacture or repair of the heaviest piece of locomotive or saw mill machinery.
Fire Protection at Mansfield.
The water supply at Mansfield is entirely adequate for all purposes needed. Besides the water in the pond there is a well 960 feet deep. South of the saw mill 600 to 700 feet in the possession of the company are four living springs which run the year round and have a capacity of 60,000 to 70,000 gallons a day. A 3-inch pipe is attached to the spring reservoir, connected with the saw mill boiler feed pumps, so that is also had in reserve. This water ordinarily is used only for drinking water for the employees, being admirably suited to that purpose.
Northwest of the mill, at a convenient distance, is an elevated tank which holds 49,850 gallons and is 72 feet high. North of the saw mill about 100 feet is a pump house made of galvanized iron, 16 feet square, which contains a 12x7x14 Gardner pump of 500 gallons a minute discharge. This pump is coupled with the pond, the tank and the deep well at the saw mill.
There are two feed water pumps made by the Filer & Stowell Company, each 6x4x6 inches in size, which are arranged to pump from the spring reservoir, deep well or log pond, and which can be used as auxiliary to the big fire pump just mentioned. In practice all the water is pumped from the big fire pump. The same mill pumps have steam connections from the planing mill boilers so that they could be utilized if the saw mill were cold and down. The steam from the big pump is furnished either from the saw or planing mill. In use at Mansfield are about 800 feet of 6-inch pipe, about 800 feet of 4-inch pipe, 200 feet of 2-inch pipe and probably 2,000 feet of 2-1/2 inch pipe.
In commission are about 800 feet of hose and 17 hydrants. There are thirty water barrels with sixty buckets. The company has the Newman system of electric clock alarm, furnished with fifteen stations, and employs one watchman to complement their work.
Miscellaneous Matters at Mansfield.
The little saw mill town of the De Soto Land & Lumber Company is more advantageously located than many metropolitan suburbs in regard to the comfort of the company’s employees. It is built upon high and rolling ground, perfect natural drainage is thus assured and the chances of fevers and the like are vastly minimized. Another attraction is the nearby town of Mansfield, a little city of 3,000 inhabitants, which, inasmuch as it was founded in 1859, is the abode of a cultured class of good citizens, with whom association is beneficial, and who have surrounded themselves with most of the comforts of civilization and good, clean living.
Mansfield, La., is the seat of the Mansfield Female College, the oldest and best known institution of learning for women in the southwest. For many years it was under the direct management of the Methodist Episcopal Church South but is now under the management of Dr. T. S. Sligh, an educator of great reputation. Young boys are also taught there. It is not often that the sons and daughters of saw mill operators have such exceptional advantages of higher education, right at home, as this institution affords the families drawn to Mansfield by the De Soto Land & Lumber Company. There are, besides this college, public schools of importance in Mansfield.
Besides all this a school has been established by the enterprise of the De Soto Land & Lumber Company and is in flourishing condition in the little saw mill town. This school is housed temporarily in a dwelling house, but a fine school building will soon be erected there by the lumber company.
Inasmuch as the saw mill community is situated so close to this well established Louisiana metropolis of Mansfield no mill physician is employed and the saw mill community has the choice of employing its own medical assistance from among the several well known practitioners who live in Mansfield proper.
The saw mill community is connected with the entire southwest by means of an office of the Southwestern Telephone Company located in the company office.
Several well known church denominations have places of worship and regular services in the town of Mansfield. It is doubtful if many saw mill communities in the southwest have greater advantages in a social way than have the employees of the De Soto Land & Lumber Company.