Way back in the year 1907 (we won't refer to it as "the good year" 1907, because there was a first class panic going on most of the year) the writer of this story went to Diboll, Texas, to assist the late Bolling Arthur Johnson do a sixty-page illustrated write-up of the mighty sawmill plant of The Southern Pine Lumber Company at that point, and it WAS a terrific plant, with three big sawmills standing in a row along the edge of that large mill pond.
There we met four good lumbermen, the late T. L. L. Temple, founder and owner of The Southern Pine Lumber Company; the late Watson Walker, General Manager at Diboll; and Henry Temple and John O'Hara. When we went back there the other day two of those old friends were still on the job, Henry Temple, now Vice President and General Manager of The Company, and John O'Hara, General Superintendent of the big Diboll mill. There are just two sawmills on the Diboll plant now, the third having burned and not rebuilt many years ago.
But we recall that on that visit 33 years ago, Mr. T. L. L. Temple told us that he thought the available timber supply would enable them to continue the operation of the Diboll plant for twelve to fifteen years. That was 33 years ago, as stated. Today they are steadily improving and modernizing the big plant, and are confident that it will be operating right there for another generation, and nobody knows how much longer, cutting both Yellow Pine and Southern hardwoods. Just another example of how the phenomenal growth of Short Leaf Pine has changed the whole Yellow Pine picture.
THE GULF COAST LUMBERMAN Visitors, with notebook and camera, went to Diboll to witness the operation of one of the most important changes that has taken place since the plant was first built in 1894; and several less important changes, but all of them testifying to the expectation of the owners to keep Diboll going for a long, long time.
The minor improvements that have just been made at Diboll include a handsome and commodious new office building to replace the old and obsolete one; a big handle factory that consumes waste stock that for many years went to the lath mill; long, new sheds covering the shipping platforms along the planer and dry sheds; a splendid and modern hotel that alone is worth a trip to Diboll to inspect; an attractive new theatre building; and a general program of rebuilding and improving the living quarters of the employes that is continually making the town brighter, more attractive, and more homelike.
The important improvement that has just been made at Diboll is the installation in a newly constructed shed at one corner of the planer of a specially constructed and ingenious machine which trims and smooths both ends of the dry lumber, prints the name of the Company thereon, covers the ends with a smooth coating of paraffin, and thus wonderfully improves the appearance and feel of the lumber. All the products of the planer go through this machine except the bundled stock. Not only can they print the name of the Company on the smooth, square, shiny ends of the lumber, but also the grade, mill, etc. The machine is a product of the Mereen-Johnson Machine Company, Minneapolis, Minn.
This machine is particularly efficient, and trims, paraffins, and prints both inch and two-inch stock with equal facility. The lumber fairly flies through the machine, and when it comes out it is something to conjure with. In the car where it is loaded for shipment and in the storage sheds of the retailer who buys and stocks it, it presents a wonderful appearance. The ends, protected by the paraffin, will not grow dim or dingy in any reasonable space of time, and the tremendously improved appearance of the stock is a great talking point to use with the building trade. The printing on the ends of the lumber is bright red.
Another machine of exactly the same kind has been installed in the planer of the other big Southern Pine Lumber Company plant located at Pineland, Texas. The operation is the same at both plants, all the inch and two-inch stock except bundled stock going through the new deluxe trimmer, so that the same sort of lumber will be shipped from both plants. E. G. Prud'homme is General Superintendent at Pineland.
All the pine products of both mills are thoroughly kiln dried, Moore kilns of both cross-circulation and the slower type being used both at Pineland and Diboll. At both mills they operate remanufacturing equipment of various sorts such as straight-line edgers, to enable them to turn out nothing but straight, well manufactured stock, and the new trimmers are the finishing touch. There is an end-matching machine in the planer both at Pineland and Diboll.
Just two years ago they completed many improvements and modernizations at the Diboll plant, including the entire rebuilding of the double-band Pine mill, and the installation of entirely new machinery for this unit. They also installed an electrification system, with a new turbine and new buildings, and at that time they entirely electrified the planer and other portions of the plant.
For many years they have operated at one corner of the Diboll plant a big box and crate factory, manufacturing both Pine and hardwood in large quantities. During the past year another tremendous side-line has been added to the Diboll set-up, in the shape of a handle factory of great size and importance located at one corner of the sawmill. The name of the handle business is the Temple-White Handle Company, which has been in operation for just about a year. They save out straight grain Pine edgings from the sawmills, and, instead of making it into lath as they did for many years, the lath mill of the Pine sawmill is used to cut this small stock, four feet and over in length and an inch to two inches square. This stock goes down the railroad track several hundred yards to the handle factory, where 40,000 broom, mop, and other handles of that sort, are made daily. All the equipment and machinery is ingeniously contrived for the turning of this raw stock into smooth, graceful, well-turned, and well-painted handles. Most of the painting is done by women, and ingenious paint dipping devices are used. The handle colors range from plain wood oil to brilliant automobile colors. Thus the sawmill waste is transformed into attractive and practical products with the whole world for a market.
On the highway that passes the Diboll plant there is a new hotel, the most unique of its sort in the State of Texas. It is built of logs, within and without. It is tremendously attractive. Logs, split logs, heavy beams, twisted tree limbs of various sorts, and many of the Pine and hardwood products of the mill were used in the artistic and original construction and decoration of the building. Every room and each room is ingeniously built and has a private bath is architecturally different, and definitely attractive. There is a modern coffee shop, a private banquet hall, a lobby whose walls are adorned with deer heads of many sorts and sizes, and everything attractive and original. Diboll is very proud of its new hotel.
Arthur Temple, of Texarkana, is President of The Southern Pine Lumber Company, and very, very proud of the New Diboll. Temple Webber, of Texarkana, is General Sales Manager, and sells the products of both the Diboll and Pineland plants.