The detailed operations at the different camps are much on the same basis. The company has at present thirteen logging camps, which cut on an average monthly about as follows:
Camp & Feet Cut
Buna (ships to Beaumont) -- 4,000,000
Trotti (logs Orange mill) -- 3,500,000
Bancroft, La. (logs Orange mill) -- 2,500,000
Kirbyville, Texas Tram (ships Beaumont) -- 2,000,000
Call (at present logging to Call mill) -- 2,000,000
Village (supplies home mill) -- 2,000,000
Silsbee -- 2,000,000
Ariola -- 1,500,000
Mobile -- 1,250,000
Woodville -- 500,000
Roganville -- 1,000,000
Fuqua -- 1,150,0000
Lillard -- 1,000,000
Total, log scale -- 24,400,000
This gives a total of about 24,400,000 feet of logs cut each month, which are furnished the various mills and by them reduced to lumber.
MILL “L,” VILLAGE.
The superintendent at Village, B. H. Rice, has many claims for recognition, both in regard to his business qualifications and as a gentleman, but perhaps his most striking characteristic is the good-humored manner in which he bows to the decision of fate. Mr. Rice was born at Portville, N. Y. Early in life he became identified with the lumber industry, and in 1878 was general overseer of the plant of Wheeler & Dusenburg at Newton Mills, Pa. After serving that firm for nine years in this capacity he resigned to accept a position with the United Rolling Stock Company. His new labors carried him to Alabama, and it was while in the employ of that company that he became acquainted with the southern pine industry. When the rolling stock company failed Mr. Rice returned to the eastern lumber regions, where he was tendered a position as superintendent of the mill and general property of E. P. Dalrymple at Port Allegheny.
During his employment by this firm he was stricken with a severe attack of Klondike fever. His sufferings from this malady were excruciating, and with hopes of securing relief and at the same time acquiring gold that would glitter, Mr. Rice embarked for the “diggin's.” This treatment was very effective in one respect at least, as not the slightest sign of a return of the fever has been noted since he landed at Seattle on his return several months ago. After his return Mr. Rice came south to accept the position of superintendent for the Kirby Lumber Company at Village, in which capacity he still remains.
Village station is located on the Texas & New Orleans railroad, thirty-six miles north of Beaumont. The plant was built and operated by the Texas Tram & Lumber Company, but was always regarded as a separate organization, having a distinct individuality, with its own officers, etc.
The stranger within the gates of the village upon making inquiries regarding the mill is soon in possession of one fact paramount: That the mill holds the world's record for the largest cut made by a single circular mill for ten hours. This record was established several years ago, and is still challenging the world of single circular mills to produce more than 253,896 feet in an equal number of hours. The operatives, however, do not make a practice of producing this amount of lumber in a day's work, and are usually content with a total ranging from 85,000 to 90,000 feet for a 10-hour run.
CAPACITY AND EQUIPMENT.
The Kirby company contemplates making a number of improvements which will increase the output to about 100,000 feet a day. The equipment of cutting machinery will not be changed or increased, but larger steam feed will be provided and extra power installed. The mill is one of the best equipped of its kind in the south, and is one of the most conveniently arranged. A large log pond has been constructed, into which the logs from the trucks are dumped. This enables the “pikers” to secure certain grades of logs without the trouble of moving others out of the way. An endless chain logger carries the timber from the pond to the log deck. After leaving the saw the arrangements made for handling the lumber are the most convenient of any mill owned by the company. The timbers and yard stocks are carried on live rolls to a considerable distance from the mill, where they are loaded on trucks and—if for immediate shipment—pushed directly to the side of the car on iron tramways. The trucks are on a level with the car, and transfer is made with the least expenditure of labor. The tracks on which the trucks run are four to six feet above the ground, and extend throughout the yard, enabling the lumber pilers to move the stock to the spot desired with very little trouble.
At the tail of the mill the stock destined for the dry kiln is placed on the sorter, which carries it to the platform, where the dry kiln trucks are situated. The sorter is built bridge-like over the space intervening between the two platforms and does not, as is so often the case, interfere with the handling of other stocks. After leaving the dry kiln lumber is moved farther east, or toward the railroad tracks, where it is stored under sheds until needed.
There is no planer operated in connection with the mill, and since the plant was absorbed by the Kirby Lumber Company the kiln dried stock is shipped to the planer at Beaumont. The present dry kilns are about worn out, and new ones are contemplated which will doubtless be constructed at an early date.
The mill proper is equipped with a single circular saw; one 4-saw edger and trimmer up to 32 feet; cut-offs and jack saw. In addition the mill has a complete lath machine capable of producing 20,000 lath a day. Owing to the lack of power this machine has not been operated for some time and the slabs and other stock usually cut into lath are turned into fire wood. The saw for cutting it into proper lengths is built directly on the slab conveyor, which leaves at the side of the mill. As soon as the power shall be reinforced in the manner contemplated, the lath mill will be operated daily.
The storage sheds are capable of containing 1,000,000 feet of lumber, though owing to the low state of stocks considerably less than this amount is on hand at present. The mill sites, yards, sheds, etc., cover thirty-five to forty acres just west of the Texas & New Orleans tracks in the very center of the town.
The mill is supplied with logs by a tram road which pierces the pine forests to the east for a distance of twenty miles or more. Two locomotives are employed, as is usual under such circumstances, one to place the cars for the loggers and the other to make the long haul from stump to saw mill. The road bed for fifteen miles east is excellent and it is proposed to continue this road farther to the east, making connections with Silsbee on the Gulf, Beaumont & Kansas City railway. This would give a total of about twenty-five miles of road and would enable the company to send lumber from the mills on one road to points on another without the necessity of paying the freight charges demanded for hauling the cars to Beaumont and then back to the station desired. A glance at the map will show the advantages to be derived from this proposed system, as the two lines of railroad are nearly parallel but touch at no point except Beaumont, via which place all freight from one road to points on the other is consigned.
There are about 250 men employed, including the mill, logging camp, commissary and yard forces. The loggers are working at present in moderate-sized timber, which was selected for the purpose of cutting a part of the lumber for the Swift packing house now under process of construction at Fort Worth. They are kept busy supplying the Village mill, though when the connection shall be made with Silsbee they will doubtless supply logs to both ends of the line.
Water is supplied by wells. An adequate supply is found at a depth of 150 to 200 feet. The company has one well which is about 1,300 feet deep, from which a small stream of water flows of its own accord. Another well is a pumper and a direct connected engine is used in forcing the water to the storage tank.
The company operates a thoroughly equipped machine shop at Village, and all repairing of locomotives, engines or machinery is done at this point, as well as a great deal of outside work of other companies and other mills belonging to the company. The machine shops are located south of the saw mill in a separate building. Power is furnished by a separate engine, but steam is provided by the boilers which supply the engine which runs the mill.