Several weeks ago the larger sawmill of The Sabine Lumber Company, located at New Willard, Texas, on the H. E. & W. T. Railroad, was destroyed by fire. Due to the heroic fire-fighting efforts of the mill crew, and assisted by a wind that was blowing in a favorable direction, the fire was confined to the sawmill proper, in which it started, and no other unit of the big plant was even damaged. The plant was not entirely put out of business by the fire, due to the fact that they operate a secondary sawmill at New Willard, a single band mill that once cut hardwood, but has been used in recent years for Pine.
It was immediately determined that the bigger sawmill should be rebuilt at once, so they put the smaller mill on a three shift basis. These extra crews together with the many men needed for the rebuilding of the big mill, enabled the company to keep their men continually employed.
While the debris of the fire was being cleared away, they got busy on their plans for the new mill, and with the cutting of timbers for its construction. They decided to replace the burned sawmill with a unit of smaller capacity. The old mill was a very large one, equipped with two bands and a big gang. The new null will be equipped with a heavy-duty circular, and supplemented with a bull-edger for cutting of small cants. President and General Manager Paul T. Sanderson gave orders that the new mill be built for permanence, since he figures that they have enough timber in sight to keep a mill of this capacity in operation for perhaps a permanent stretch of years. The construction timbers are all heart. They are using heart Cypress, heart Long Leaf Yellow Pine, and heart Short Leaf Yellow Pine, depending on the place of use. It will be a mill that will withstand the rigors of tune and weather far into the future.
A veteran sawmill builder was employed to design and build the new mill. Harry Badsteubner has been designing and constructing sawmills in the Southwest for some forty years, and has built far more big mills in this territory than any other professional mill builder. The new mill is being built exactly where the old one stood, using the same mill pond, power house, timber docks, etc. It will be finished and in operation about July first. The powerful circular equipment, furnished by the Lufkin Foundry & Machine Company, of Lufkin, Texas, is ideal for the rapid cutting of the fine Short Leaf Yellow Pine timber the plant will be cutting from now on.
Up to this time the New Willard mill has kiln dried about 75 per cent of its products. From now on the six big double kilns will easily be able to handle the entire output of the two sawmills.
There has recently been added to the New Willard plant and incorporated into all its activities, a very wonderful machine that is located just off the end of the planer, and on the loading dock. It is a specially built double-end trimmer. All the product of this plant goes through this machine except timbers. It automatically cuts every piece of lumber to exact length, double-end trims the ends so that they are absolutely square and perfectly smooth like the face of the dressed lumber, stamps each piece plainly with the name of the company and the grade of the stock, then covers the end with protective paraffin. The result is: lumber of exact length; ends that are absolutely square, smooth, shiny; the best looking stock Sabine ever sold. Loaded in cars it makes an unusually attractive appearance, and in the dealer's lumber bins the remarkable appearance of the lumber is a big sales talk. It is worthy of note that the other two Sabine mills, at Trinity, Texas, and Zwolle, Louisiana, also use double-end trimmers on all their lumber.
New Willard is a very efficient lumber plant. They make a practice of picking out and saving all their clear lumber down to the very smallest piece, and converting it into useful products and materials of various kinds. They have some ingenious machinery at one end of the big planer, including an end-matching unit. In this department they make large quantities of Yellow Pine end-matched flooring, end-matched sheathing, end-matched center-match stock, table stock, handle stock, mouldings, crate stock, etc. One of their very useful trick machines is one made right there by Superintendent Joe Richards and his assistants that they call a "Gainer." This ingenious machine takes small strips of clear lumber saved from the plant, and notches them in various places so that they interlock to make light-weight frames. They do a considerable business in the products of this machine. All this, of course, in addition to their making everything in Yellow Pine shed and yard stock that the lumber dealer of the Southwest can desire, and drying, dressing, and trimming it to make lumber that they are pardonably proud of.
Joe Richards has been right there since the first New Willard mill was built in 1910. The products of the plant are sold through the sales offices of The Sabine Lumber. Company, in Houston, which is in charge of a veteran officer of the company, Frank D. Wherritt. They also have a large sales office in St. Louis under the direction of Vice President W. L. Yardley. Paul T. Sanderson, president and executive head of all the Sabine interests, lives and has his office at Trinity, Texas, just a few miles from New Willard.
The timber history of these two mills, New Willard and Trinity, is almost a fairy story. Mr. Sanderson states that when he took charge of them 17 years ago, they thought they had about five years to run. At the end of 17 years they have an indefinite timber supply stretching out ahead of them, such a supply as induces them to build a very permanent type of new sawmill at New Willard. Fire protection, intelligent selective logging, and the tremendous growth of this timber is the answer.