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Geils Band except for J. Killed by the Inquisition. Harold Pinter -- English actor and playwriter; founder of the 'absurd theatre'. The Sawyer controls the movement of the carriage with the wooden-handled lever on the left, while simulataneously controlling log-loading and log-turning with the control on the right.
This log now lies flat on a clean cut, ready for another pass through the band mill, which squares the timber in preparation for making a new mast for the C. The mast is so long that transporting the log required a truck-and-trailor with stearable rear wheels. The finished timber will be transported by barge to the ship restoration project in San Francisco. The headrig, carriage, edger, and log-table are powered by steam engines. The main engine, an Ames twin-cylinder, built in and still operating, powers the headrig and edger.
A second steam engine powers the carriage, which is drawn back and forth on its tracks by a cable-and-pulley system. The steam engines have fewer breakdowns than any other equipment at the mill.
The larger engine has two in. The engine is 13 ft. This article originally appeared on GaryMKatz. I was fortunate to receive a link to your article on the historic Hull-Oakes Sawmill in Corvalis Oregon from my friend Bud. What a wonderful piece. The photos and history are great. Our timber industry has fallen on hard times I and the trees grow like weeds. McCloud had a steam powered mill, then electric…now gone.
It would fill an empty space for a lot of us who grew up there. Just looked at this post and read it for the first time. I have heard of it many years ago, but have never had the time to go visit.
It warms my heart to see such a great business still around. I will share this with all my fb friends and family as well. They will love this too. A friend forwarded the internet address for this mill article. I was in grade school at the time and being small I earned my spending money crawling inside the boiler and knocking the mineral scale off of the tubes.
OSHA would have us all in jail today but I thought it was a good way to live. No electricity or radio but lots of fish in the beaver ponds and no lack of adventure. My new bride and I had a bunk house with an electric plate, small fridge and mice. She made me run the trap line before she would get up, just a city kid. Thank you for the terminology!! What a beautiful piece.
I can smell the steam, the wood dust and feel the noise of the machinery. Well done, now that was a band saw blade! Gary, I found the Hull-Oakes sawmill website very interesting and would like to show it to a group if it is available on vhs or dvd.
Could you let me know if it is? Or perhaps give me a contact at Hull-Oakes. Would really appreciate it. We are a hardwood mill in Pa.
I just toured the mill last week — September 19th. I am wondering if you have this available in a published book form as I really like to sit back and enjoy reading material like this in that form. They have had to go high tech to stay in business and our Grandson and their Son-in-Law are well trained to carry on a small town business that looks after the custom needs of high end home builders in their area.
Originally started out with a — 36 in. They mill all scrap to usable square dimension and glue up for special balusters etc. It takes one full time employee to make this a profitable part of their business, rather than high percent raw material loss.
I applaud your obvious fine effort to keep the woodworking trades professional and profitable. Hope you can answer my question and can order video if that is all that is available. Thanks, Joe, Ontario Canada. I hope to return to the mill this summer and add some video to the story. The teeth in the backside of the saw are usually called sliver teeth.
They are there in case a broken piece of wood or a sliver hits the saw as the carriage is being brought back to make another cut. Insted of the saw possibly being pushed off the wheel the sliver tooth will cut through it.
These teeth are effective and alot easier to maintain than the swagged tooth on the front side. The Weyerhaeuser mill I was at in Klamath Falls Oregon had a full set of teeth on both sides of the band and the rig cut both directions. Our rigs were steam shotguns, those were the longest cylinders and rods I have ever seen — we could take a 25 foot section if I remember correctly. Alec Milstein, Venice, Ca. If I ever get back to Oregon, I would love to tour this mill. Thanks again for telling a story of the great work we are capable of doing in this country.
Nice article, interesting story, but the claim to the last steam-powered mill in the US is off. Southern Maryland has several Amish run steam-powered sawmills. Those are large commercial sawmills. Please send me more information. What a cool place to visit. Thanks for sharing your trip. David, I first visited that mill in , I think, and wrote the story and published it on my website in Fine Homebuilding also published a version of that story: We decided to re-publish the article on TiC because of recent interest in the story.
But back then, I think I was using a Fuji digital camera, one of the first good 35m versions. Then I returned to the mill a year or so later with a Canon 1D. So lighting is really difficult. I had a tough time and had to do a lot of work on the photos in Photoshop to make them presentable, but with the 5D I know I could take superb pictures even in that hostile environment—and video, too.
I grew up in Cottage Grove a major logging town south of Corvalis. My Dad worked in many sawmills and also set chokers. I remember him talking about it often. Please do a video follow up when you get back to the mill.
I would love to see that blade in action and the guys coaxing the logs to adjust for bows. Wow… Loved the article… My shop is full or wood working machinery dating back to but this just puts everything into perspective. Brought back memories of a fully operational steam powered mill museum my wife and I visited 15 years ago on a trip to Nova Scotia — the Southerland Steam Mill. At the time, everything was fully functional, and once a month a crew would show up, fire up the boiler and manufacture trim off of the original templates.
The ground floor was the working saw mill. Couple of links for you: The language of the mill was probably the most fascinating. I especially liked this particular caption: Great cast and I watch it whenever I can. More articles like this, Gary! My bus to work takes me right past this boat. Thanks so much for including the link to the restoration of the CA Thayer. That really ties in so well with this story.
Awesome to see that magnificent ship rebuilt! Thanks for exploring and sharing. A wonderful article on a sawmill our business, Dunn Lumber Co. One very minor correction: So it was an amazing feat of optimism for Mr.
Hull to decide to go into business in that year and a testament to his business skills that he prospered! Thanks for a great correction, Rob. It was a heck of a time to stick your neck out. There is something captivating about old machines and systems. I love taking tours some not so legal of old factories and mills. Most people who visit this old sawmill consider it to be little more than an interesting holdover from the past.
In fact, we may be looking at the future as many manufacturing facilities go back to steam power when oil becomes too expensive.
In effect, the product provides the energy needed to process it. Jim, From what I learned at Hull-Oakes, they power the main milling operation with steam generated from sawdust, bark, and waste. The other parts of the mill are not powered by steam. Gary you are correct about the Hull — Oaks mill, the generation of steam in the boiler is from burning the scrap wood that is not pulp chip material.
The mill does use electrical power for the machines down stream of the edger. The Hull-Oakes management and employees are great people, You mentioned the Bull Edger being upgraded to remote controls. One of your photos in the above section has a shot of the edgerman in a green sweatshirt getting a large cant lined up to go into the edger, if you look to the left of his knee there are a number of handles sticking out of the edger, that was the old manual set works where the edgerman had to step in between the cant and edger and set the edger saws to the cut they wanted.
Sometimes the price for progress is too dear. When I was much younger I worked a small hardwood mill in PA. It was hard work but I loved it. I can still smell the different scents of the logs we cut. The beauty of the grain of the boards was unique to each log. I was there about or before.
We did not try to go near the mill, not wanting to be in the way of their progress. Wonderful memories brought back. It too was a family operation and I remember in the winter time he would arrive early and have the boiler heated for us to stand by while waiting for the school bus.
As of a few years ago, there was still a steam powered mill in operation out the road about two miles. I worked for Weyerhauser for thirty years in Klamath Falls Or as a lumber grader and sorter operator. This site brings back lots of memories good and bad. At one time it was the largest pine mill in the world.
It closed in for lack of trees thanks to the spotted owl scam. Was wondering who Howard Wiles is and where he worked and when. Thanks for the story it was great. Thanks for a great documentation! This appears to be dangerous work! Dirgster, In Oregon unless the employees are exposed to an over head hazard a hard hat is not required by OR OSHA and the same with the other items, however if the company is experiencing recordable injuries in those areas then they could be required.
Their are companies such a Weyerhaeuser who require hard hats and many areas safety glasses as a criteria of employment. I really appreciate the skill and family connection linked to the old, old machinery.
And it works so very well. Great article Gary, I love this stuff. Would you notice if I was a stowaway during your next visit: And anyone else that might like to join a tour is also welcome. When I saw a similar, but smaller band saw many years ago; I was led to believe that the logs were sawed as they traveled both directions on the carriage.
The saw cuts in only one direction. The bands have teeth on both sides giving the ability to cut as the log carriage travels each way. This band is a single cut with sliver teeth. The sharpening operation does not use the sliver teeth, the saw grinder feeds the tooth being sharpened through the grinder as it grinds up the back of the tooth and then pulls away to let the stone sharpen the face and gullet. In the case of the double cut band, the shark tooth design is almost exactly the same on both edges of the blade.
Sometimes less sophisticated sinlge cut bands have a smooth non-wavey edge. Jeff, Thanks for the clarification. My son and I and our wives toured this mill last December and thanks to our guide, Don Oakes, came away with a profound appreciation for an industry that was once nearly ubiquitous in the Northwest. What a great experience!
It has many pictures of the interiors of mills using double bands that sawed on both directions of the carriage…. I used to work there from until I started on the green chain end then moved to the planer side, and after that I was the pond monkey for a while. Gary, I sent along a comment earlier but saw a comment and answer that may need some clarification.
The teeth on the off-side back of the band actually have two functions. On ones this large they do register for sharpening, which is not always the case on a small band. Early on they used the flat back band blades and found when even a small splinter stuck out it could catch the back of the blade and pull it off of the wheels.
I grew up in Albany. We would often spend hours down by the river watching the logging trucks come in and dump their loads down The slide into the Willamette. They didn;t use any little unloader. The truck would park at the very edge where the nearly vertical logs of the chute reached the edge of the bank. The truck driver would remove the chains that held the log s on the rig and then release the blocks on the river side.
There was a cable anchored near the edge of the slide and it lay across the path of the truck. When ready, the cable was pulled up by a huge hoist on the other side of the truck and the logs would be slid off and onto the drop. Often the load would consist of ONE log — often 6 or 8 feet in diameter. A man or men walking on the logs in the river would form and secure them into a raft.
When it was completed, a tug would take it down river. I understand some of these rafts were towed all the way to Japan. Every logger wore boots with LONG sharp spikes.
When he left, the blocks were dumped back to await the next logger. There is a steam powered saw mill in Port Alberni,B. I, too think that used to be a double cut saw.
A bit of information from someone that grew up in the logging capital of the world, Coos Bay, Oregon. During summer vacations, while in college, I worked in mills and log dumps in Coos Bay, Springfield and Eugene. This allowed the logs to roll off easily into the water where the pond man would use his pike pole to put them in place.
Often this was in a raft that was then pulled by a tug boat to the mill slip where the logs would be raised to the head rig to be sawn. At that time there was no log bronc as shown in the pictures. The log bronc was invented by Fred Nelson of Coos Bay in about as he was a pond man working for what had been the largest lumber company in the world at that time, the Coos Bay Lumber Company, Coos Bay Lumber had their own railroad, and several ocean going ships to deliver their lumber.
At that time Coos Bay was the 4th largest tonnage shipping port in the world because of the lumber the shipper and its weight. Back to Fred Nelson, he has several different versions of his log bronc and was expermenting with various motors and positions for the motor. The motor was near the center of the boat and had to be able to run while being turned degrees. This allowed the bronc to push in any direction.
Coos Bay lumber got his patent for him. The device was hooked to the head rig and measured the cuts, time to cut, return of the carriage and load time as well as blade changing time. I still have the invention at my house. The workers refused to work with it claiming that the stock holders, being mostly Easterners, would not understand why there was so much time not actually cutting.
So his invention was never used and I was told that it was donated to a forestry school. Because the pond men had all been in that line of work for tens of years in the salt spray, sun, rain and Coos Bay wind I was near the end of the summer when the wind quit blowing one day when shirts were removed and I discovered which of the pond men weilding the pike poles was black.
All great guys and super workers. They have a small steam powered mill there that uses a big steam powered circular saw that people get to watch in operation. The whole park is facinating with restored heavy machinery and musiums. Thank you for a wonderful pictorial record it makes the racksaw driven by a single cylinder tractor I worked at Avoncroft Museum, Bromsgrove, England look like a toy.
My largest timbers were 40ft Pitch Pine spars for the windmill I worked for 15 years. What a fantastic article. I grew up in Aberdeen, Wash. I remember as a young lad, standing along the roadside, watching the log trucks heading for town with a three log load or just a single log. Thanks Steve Hatfield W.
Wow, what an article — beautiful photos and each step in production so well explained. It has been rebuilt, supposedly as it was in the late 19th century. I remember the noise and the smell. Having looked at your presentation, the first thing I would think about is danger. There must have been terrible accidents from time to time.
My dad was among his many trades, a mill wright. This wonderful picture story gives me a vision of what being a mill wright entails. I always considered the task of positioning and aligning large equipment, but had no concept of the tasks of operation and maintainance. Hope to visit the site in the future.
Many thanks for a great piece of journalism. Gary; Have enjoyed your roadshows here in the Seattle, WA area. I really enjoyed the article about the Hull-Oakes mill as it re-kindled thoughts about my growing up. Aa a kid, I grew up in a Washington logging town not far from Aberdeen, WA where we had seven sawmills and shingle mills operating. My father, uncles and cousins all worked in the mills or the woods. The mill used the bark and sawdust for hog fuel to power the boilers and produce steam to drive generators and for the dry kilns.
The mill had converted from steam to electricity after WWII. Later, I worked at the mill on the green chain and pulled the dry chain while continuing my education. The mill is still there and when I go back to visit family the smells of the mill carry me back to those times over forty years ago. As an engineer and American History hobbyist, I find this fantastic and heart warming.
This is what the American culture is all about; hard work and endurance. I just want to know one thing….. Where do they get spare parts? What a wonderfully interesting article. The photos and dialogue were also very interesting. It takes a special person to do that job and do it well. Thanks for sharing, it was great. As an engineer and long-time member of the Society of Industrial Archaelogy, I found the story and pix of the saw mill just great.
Gary, Thanks for the memories brought back from 55 years ago when I worked my way up from the green chain to pond monkey in a Dayville, Oregon mill long gone! The first few weeks until I got my balance, I was always working soaking wet but worse were the jeers and laughter from my fellow millhands.
The pictures, descriptions, and comments were all first class. Gary, thanks for a wonderful article! As a mechanical engineer and a woodworker I was fascinated by all the equipment. Your article really made me think about what we value in life. A great story and an excellent reflection of the past. Having grown up around small circle saw mills in Colorado I am facinated at the size and capabilities of the large mills.
Makes me sad that a great industry has nearly died- the loss to our economy and the loss of a sustained forest progam is very troubling. Gary, Thank you for the enlightenment. It just goes to show what diligent maintenance and proper blade sharpening will do. I will save your wonderful article and show it to others. Thanks so much for this presentation.
What a treat to be able to make it real rather than theoretical. This was wonderful and just what we needed to really understand the workings of the mill. I have a new respect for all of the work that goes into preparing this natural resource for our use.
Gary, Thanks for a wonderful presentation. This harkens me back to the years of through the fall of when I worked for Harold Hollenbeck who had a mill at Trout Lake, Washington. I did not work inside of the mill, but I knew what the whole operation was all about. This operation was not too different than where I worked except this mill could not handle the long timbers. Thanks again for a job well done. This is something that all the older folks would like to see and read again and many would have some great stories to add to this very interesting e-mail from their past.
I have never seen or read anything like this before, pass this on to all your e-mail buddies,family and friends. I found this presentation very uplifting. As a retired educator having taught both art and history i feel that these types of presentations are essential to preserving the history of this great country of ours.
After retiring I took up wood carving as a hobby and way to make a few extra bucks. I am going to pass this on to all of the woodcarvers and history buffs on my e-mail list. He worked in the spokane area. I do have some pictures of some of the crews and mill.
My father Frank was a farmer, small business man and an owner of a three bench corley mill in Michigan. It was hard work and two of us were called to serve in the military,so dad sold the mill and the farm in the fifties.
Two of the five of us brothers are deceased or long since retired. I enjoyed the program and have never forgotten the operation of a mill. I retired in and nosed around a wood mizer portable mill to buy some slabwood and started to pile lumber and slabs for this owner because he was handicapped and got a part time summer job.
He gave me wood and lumber to build a small tool storage building and asked me to run the mill for him after we sawed about 40, bd. My old Navy buddy who I served with in the SeaBees sent this to me and I will treasure it and share it with others. I loved reading and looking through this article. The mill and its staff have my hearty admiration. Awesome, do they do tours? I need to take my kids to see this awesome mill next time I am home. It looks like a green operation to me using their wood waste to heat the boiler.
I toured this mill and took a number of photos. This mill is a throwback to the past and I love the history. After college, I worked in the Weyerhaeuser sawmill in Springfield, Oregon.
They had a 10 foot bandmill for the large logs but everything was pretty much computerized at the time. The smells, the flow through the mill, and skill sets required by the various machine operators will also be remembered. Thanks for sharing the Hull-Oakes story. Dad was a logger and pony-sawyer skilled labor. Nineteen sixty-seven, , Dad remarked how many people lost their jobs, how many families were no longer there. How he greived that year. Our town housed one of the largest sawmills in the British Commonwealth, owned at the time by B.
These pictures bring back a lot of memories for me as my father was the chargehand electrician for many years and I worked part time in the mill while in high school and post secondary school. This series of photos and descriptions of the mill workings is a treasure and should be in a museum for posterity. May I suggest sending it to the forestry museum in Duncan, B. It is very closely reminiscent of all that I remember in Youbou. Well done to those who developed it.
My dad worked in the woods and then in sawmills and planer mills all his working life. By the time I can remember he was working in a planer mill in Junction City, Oregon for his brother-in-law, Don Shelton. These pictures provoke wonderful memories of my childhood and visiting daddy at the mill! Thank you for the trip down memory lane and a more gentle time. Thanks to Grant Cunningham for the link.
One of the last steam powered mills in the east was torn down to make way for the Georgia Dome in Atlanta about 20 years ago. I used to go there to pick up bundles of survey stakes. I loved to stop by and watch the mill run. Thanks for a wonderful presentation. It brought back memories of my first job out of High School.
With corked shoes I snagged the logs, pulled them into the mill, cut to length and split them to shingle bolt size. It was good exercise for an 18 year old and has stood me well and I feel I could still do it at I purchased the the old Car-Win cedar mill in Forks Wa. It cut old growth cedar and exported it all over the world.
Before I dismantled the mill I took hundreds of photos and of course recognize many of the same equipment as was in your presentation.
I restored the straddle buggy and take it for a short ride now and then. This mill was not steam operated but it took so much power that when it started all the light in Forks dimmed. This mill also had planers and they sold a finished cedar product. Thanks again Respectfully Bill Sperry. I toured the mill last fall and still have short videos of the headrig cutting huge timbers on my cell phone. This was an absolute treat.
Nice to have keepsakes around. It is great to see a wonderful mill like this still in operation. I have a large circle saw 64inch in front of my house powered by a steam engine.. It has an atlas engine with a 10 inch bore and 14 inch stroke..
The headblocks are adjustable, so something a little larger could be set up for. The boiler is horizontal and has 92 3 inch flues 14 ft one inch long in it. The great area is five by nine feet. We fire it on slabs and railroad ties. The engine is an Atlas manufactured in Indianapolis Indiana.
The flywheel is about five feet in diameter and 14 inches wide. It drives a 10 inch flat belt which goes to the husk and an edger. Sawdust is carried out by a drag chain. I have a machine shop next door in which all the lumber except the poles was sawed on this mill. Schwenk passed away a few years after setting up this mill.
He had always wanted one. He also owned a horsepower Nichols Sheppard engine, a A. Baker engine and a Minneapolis engine,and his fathers engine a M.
Rumley engine built here in La Porte Indian. The baker engine was his favorite. Baker had invented a very modern valve gear for the engine, and was sought after by many railroads to put his steam efficient valve gear on their engines.
I new have a two cylinder upright westinghouse single acting engine to be used for the swing cut off saw, and a two cylinder water pump engine.
We also have a twin cylinder pumping engine one injector,and a manual pump for water in the boiler. You just cant beat the smells and sounds of a saw mill running cutting oak and steaming steam cylinder oil in the air. My hat goes off to you guys there for keeping your mill operating.
I guess I am showing my age. I was lucky enough to run all the steam locomotives at Cedar Point in Sandusky Ohio for two summers. I pulled five cars four trips an hour and hauled three hundred and fifty passengers on every trip.
The second year I not only ran the engines, but fired, took on water, and shovelled the coal into the tenders every morning by hand by myself. We had the old waste stuffed journals and I oiled them all every morning. I also started the fires, blew out the flews with a steam hose to knock out the excess soot. My friend Don was one of the last to shock wheat and oats and corn here so he could thresh it with his old advance rumley separator.
Come to Indiana in the fall to our threshing show. I was one of the founders about 25 to 30 years ago. By the way the boiler on our mill formerly heated the New York Central track pan in Chesterton Indiana, and was hauled over to this area on a wagon drawn by horses. Best Regards, Rich Lidke I have a video of our mill on here made by a friend. Thankyou for a wonderful journey through the operations of an old Steam driven sawmill. Thank you, and I hope the mill still keeps going for generations to come.
If at all possible, young children age should see this process to become aware of the hard ardous work necessary to obtain wood down to paper. We are honing in on becoming more green and appreciative of nature but a hands on visible look would be worth a thousand words.
I am very impressed and enjoyed reading about the process of a tree. Later, my father and his brother took over the operation around In my cousin and myself both started working on the mill and in the woods of central PA cutting timber and running the backend of the mill. We would take the lumber off the edger and stack it and cut all the slabs and edgings to either fire wood size or slabs for firing the brick yard kilms. We sold the sawdust also.
This story really brought back the memories from that time. We supplied a lot of ties to the railroad and prime oak for hardwood flooring. We also subblied ash blanks to be turned into handles and baseball bats. We also custom cut lumber for many special projects including homes and other buildings which required special timbers. It was quite an experience. One of the stories my father told me about my grandfather was that when he was young, he lived in a logging camp.
On Saturdays, the logging camps would get together and each camp would have a camp champion to box bare knuckle. My grandfather was champion for a number of years and according to Dad, wan never defeated. A very enjoyable and informative presentation. I learned quite a bit with each picture. I love history information like this and hopefully it will stay around for many years for others to see and learn from.
I sure am glad that I have taken the tour and being from California, plan on coming up north to take the physical tour so I can see, hear and smell the complete process. I hope that will be o.
I was sent this by a friend who knows my interest in steam power. But I found the whole mill operation absolutely fascinating. An operation like this is a one of a kind thing and deserves to be kept in use as long as possible. I noticed that they say the steam engines have less trouble than anything else they could use. Unfortunately boilers are maintenance intensive by comparison.
Thanks for all the work to put this together. I grew up with this mill. My dad worked there until he died in I spent my summers during high school with Hull family across the road from the mill.
Field trip to San Francisco when in sixth grade spent the night on The C. Thayer and did all the stuff that was done on the ship back when it was in operation. Great photos of mill. It should not be closed down. I graded lumber after it was dried in the kilns for a few years and then changed to the river crew, where I fed logs into the mill in a steel cable hoist, up to the head rig.
I sometimes worked as an off bearer behind the head rig, but finally transferred to the log dump. I ran the cantilever dump, lifting the entire loads off of the trucks and dumping them into the river where they were sorted and graded to be formed into rafts and stored until needed by the mill. Then the truck trailers were loaded back onto the trucks, so they could return to the woods for another load. IP built a paper mill next to the saw mill and plywood plant, and used the slabs from squaring up the logs to chip into pieces to digest into paper pulp.
The logs had to be barked before they could use them, so they were cold decked and not dumped into the river anymore. The old cantilever dump was sold to a shipyard across the river in Reedsport to lift boats onto the drydock.
IP cut all of their timber and shipped it to China. Leaving Gardiner like so many other lumber towns in the Pacific Northwest. I walked and sorted the logs before sending them into the mill. But, it sort of made me mad as I sat and thought about it. We live in a country where the ones who are rewarded most handsomely are those who produce absolutely nothing of value.
Here, we have workers who actually work, yet more and more of their country is owned by the bankers, lawyers and speculators, those who have produced little of value for our country. Long live sawmill workers. I just called them up and asked if I could visit and they said yes.
While I was there, one of the employees took me on a tour.