This is a story of the sawmill plant operated at Jasper, Texas, by Frost Lumber Industries, of Shreveport, La. Jasper is a splendid illustration of the fact that nobody can tell any more, how long a Southwestern Pine sawmill will have a timber supply. Alexander Gilmer Lumber Company built the Jasper mill. Even at that time many sawmills had cut out and quit at Jasper, believing that the end of the timber supply for that vicinity had arrived. In 1923 the Gilmer interests cut the last of their timber holdings, and blew the whistle for the last time.
For a number of years, however, the Frost interests had been accumulating timber holdings in that vicinity, so they bought the Gilmer mill and started cutting up their trees. The sawmill at that time was a strictly Pine mill, and was equipped with a band and a gang. But the gang is not suited to cutting Hardwoods, and about half of their timber was of that type, so they took out the gang and replaced it. with a resaw. Likewise they revised and modernized the plant in various fashions to make it fit a divided Pine and Hardwood cut. Today, after fourteen years operation, they still have large holdings of their own at Jasper, and in addition they are buying splendid logs from scores of private owners in that neck of the woods who are cutting up their small timber holdings. So the Jasper mill will run for many more years, no one knows how many, depending on how great the supply of other people's timber proves to be, in addition to their own.
The Jasper plant operates alternately on Pine and Hardwood. The plant is well equipped and arranged for cutting, seasoning, and preparing both for market. They have four Moore kilns in which they season both Pine and Hardwood. All of their Pine product except timbers, goes through the dry kilns.
When the plant is operating on Hardwoods, they dip much of the product including all their gum, in a Lignasan tank located right outside the trimmers at the rear of the mill. The lumber is then pulled off the chains by hand and transported on dollies to the yard where it is piled for preliminary air seasoning. It stays there from two to four months, and then goes to the kilns to be scientifically dried for market. The Hardwoods at Jasper are unusually fine. They cut a lot of Cypress, and specialize in wide Cypress boards, which they put through the kilns with splendid success. An unusual percentage of their Hardwood stumpage is Magnolia, and they are particularly proud of their ability to supply Magnolia users with any size or character of items needed. When THE GULF COAST LUMBERMAN visitors were at Jasper they saw large quantities of beautiful Cypress and Magnolia lumber coming from kilns, and grand looking lumber it was.
The planing mill has been equipped for Hardwoods as well as for Pine, and they dress a large part of their Hardwood shipments. Since all the Pine produced goes through the dry kilns, they have no Pine yard at Jasper, but in-stead have an abundance of shed room for storing both their rough and dressed stock under cover. They do very little of what you might call "fancy" manufacturing at Jasper, cutting only standard lumber items, and sending all their waste to the fuel burner. A mill that operates only part time on Pine always needs all the refuse it can cut for fuel, since the Hardwood waste does not burn well enough to make satisfactory fuel.
They have a crating plant in one corner of the planing mill, where they cut and fit crating stock to be shipped in knock-down form. They make a variety of crates for many purposes and various districts.
The Pine lumber you see coming from the planer to the loading docks and dressed shed, has every appearance of careful manufacture. From the smallest piece of trim to the widest dimension, it is straight, smooth, good-looking lumber, and Frost puts its name on the end of every piece to show that they are proud of it, and want the trade to know who made it.
Hubert Deal, resident manager for Frost at Jasper, just recently returned to that point after nine and one-half years at Nacogdoches as resident manager. Previous to that time he was manager at Jasper from the time Frost bought the plant. He beleives he has one of the most compact and efficient sawmills in the Southwest, and is proud of its operation and of its product.
He has been in the sawmill game ever since he left school, and is one of the most popular mill managers in the Southwest. He tells a good story on himself.
He got his first lumber job with Jasper Peavy, who is closely related to him. Lumber terms were all new to young Deal. So when Mr. Peavy said something to him about "B & Better Flooring" he wrote it down "Being Better Flooring." He has learned a lot about lumber since then.
The products of the Jasper mill, like that of the other eight Frost saw-mills as well as the oak flooring and lumber treating plants in Shreveport, are sold exclusively through the sales offices of Frost Lumber Industries, Shreveport, Louisiana, of which John L. Avery is general sales manager. Mr. E. A. Frost, of Shreveport, is the executive head of the Frost interests, and Mr. H. W. Whited, of Nacogdoches is general manager of the Texas group of Frost mills.