Image provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR
About The Sunday Oregonian. (Portland, Ore.) 1881-current | View This Issue
; - : t t -.MjAszsrk-
PAGES-25 TO 32
PORTLAND, OREGON, SUNDAY MOBNINfr, OCTOBER 7, 1900.
LitmherYard and Mill ' sA
A s$t the Hitter's E.de
command of the first sawyer, who man
ages the large band saw, and they are
watchful of his every movement,' for his
orders aro given by means of signs. Two
of them tend the head blocks and the
third turns the screw by means of which
the log Is adjusted to the saw. Every
thing Ja done, stopped or started by the
simple movement of a lever. It looks
easy enough, but avarlety of Interest
ing complications might arise If that lever
should not bo moved at the right time!
"Wlion a log has had the rough slab
ripped, from Its side, and perhaps a board
or two as well, It Is turned over "upon
the carriage by a ' nigger " The "nigger '
Is a contiivance, well calculated'to startle
the unsophisticated beholder It works
automatically, yet hasthe appcaranoe ot
being endowed with life and Intelligence.
After the log-has been squared and"re)
duced to the desired DroDortlons by the
band ca. itjls '.called a "canf?' U(gjtt7:;
is then transrerrea irom tne mam to
tho "pony" carriage, by the aid of '"flip-;
pers," which handle It with ease ana
Snvreil Into Xtunber.
The. second band saw, to v, hlch the log
Is now carried and which Is somewnat
smaller than the first, saws It up Into
boards, timbers or scantling. These, as
they come from the saw, are borne away
on live rollers to tho ards, to the
"edger " or the gang ana crosscut saws.
The latter, of the ordinary circular pat-
in yvr ""-J&ssaiff. .- isssm& v-- &,-. rw&sssp m
r EBiUl-irr- - .. . -sfflfi. 1
I ;-.;'. , J--.v -1; r73 lif4vT- "'
PictninMackines at Work s
Nc of the ir-ost important factors
In tho commercial upbuilding
of the state, and one that has
done much toward making Ore
gon's name known all over the
world is the lumber industry.
Hho manufacture of lumber Is a natural
Sequence to the felling of timber, an ar
ticle on which appeared in last Sunday's
Oregonlnn. and while It is a subject that
5may not commend Itself to the popular
taste, it is, nevertheless, thought well
worthy of treatment in the present issue.
The glory of the tree has, in a largo
Jxneasure. departed, when, its identity de
istroyed, it comes to the mill to bo sawed
5nto lumber- There is nothing, estheti
cally speaking, attractive about a col
lection of logs, although there is no de
i&yinir the fact that they are full of pos
sibilities that may, with time and manip
ulation, develop beauty of form and col
nr. But the commercial value of the tree
Sncreases -with the destruction of its life
end loveliness. And the sawlog, in tho
yes and estimation of the millowner and
wthe lumberman, is a possession more to
"be coveted than, the stateliest flr that
lever flung Its green banners to the winds
Sfrom the cloud-capped summits of tho
'Cascades, or swayed to the embrace of
ocean-born breezes, in canyons of the
Talces Time snd Money. '
It takes time, money, men and. ma
chinery to convert the standing tree into
lumber. It takes something more than
these to moke the process profitable to
tho operator. More than one modest for
tune has, in the earlier history of the
-Btate, been burled beyond all power of
resurrection beneath tho sawdust of the
lumber-yard. Indeed, the opinion once
revaUed. in outlying districts, that it
Tajas onJy the incompetent who engaged In
the manufacture of lumber, so invariably
did misfortune and losses follow sawmill
But tliat was some years back ta the
past, when both methods and machinery
were of the most primitive sort, and In
the days when the mill, remote from
market and perched upon Qie bank of a
ctream. in the far depths of the forest,
was operated by water power, instead of
steam. Brawn stood for brain, and mus
cle was the main requirement in the man
tigemenL The labor was of the severest
nature; all the lifting and carrying was
accomplished by mere physical force.
If. in the course of events, anything
pot out of order about the mill; if the
gearing broke or wore out, all hands
stoppod work until It was repaired or re
plxcsd. And fadHties for either replacing
or lepalring were of the most limited
kind. It was a matter of no infrequent
occurrence for the sa-w to stand idle -for
Mays and even weeks. Tfeea tatemrp-
tlons, of course, meant serious loss to the
owner or operator.
In time, the simple, upright sash saw
gave place to the more complicated and
rapidly revolving circular saw, and bteam
began to make possible the introduction
of many labor-saving devices. These in
novations which increased the capacity
of the mill, called for larger outlays of
capital, even In the remoter sections of
the country. Men with a knowledge of en
gineering and .some degree of mechanical
skill were required to superintend the
operation of the more intricate machinery,
and lumber-making began to assume a
dignity it had not known before. Grad
ually, too, in this, as in all other indus
tries, tho larger concerns absorbed, to a
certain extent, the smaller. The corpo
ration, as a natural sequence, superse
ded the individual owner. Mills are now
located with a view to convenience in
marketing the manufactured product.
Shipping facilities -are taken inta ac
count, in the selection of a site. It has
been demonstratett to the satisfaction of
all concerned that It is cheaper, in the
long run, to bring the timber to the mill.
Instead of, aa in earlier days, taking the
mill to the timber.
It is & far cry from that little mm to
the heart of the forest to the mammoth
plant on the bank of the "Willamette the
big, steam lumber factory that is dupli
cated on a smaller scale, a dozen times
over, in nearly every county in the state.
But the little mill, with Its sash saw: its
tiny pond, crowded with great, rough
barked logs; its silver-sheeted dam, and
the gloom and the fragrance of the. forest
wrapping it about, possessed certain pic
turesque features that are entirely want
ing in its ambitious successor.
TTo Clans Distinctions Then.
There were no class lines drawn in that
small community. The loggers and the
mill hands were on the same social plane
as the owner himself. They were all
strong, well-built sons of the forest, and
they lived In simple comfort, in their '
unpalnted cabins in the ifleep woods,
where the resinous odor of fresh-cut fir
mingled with the Incense that arose from
trampled beds of fern and musk. A per
vspetlve of 35 years, however, Is apt, it
must be admitted, to lend a romantic col
or to even the commonplace, and In this
money-getting age, It is too much to ex
pect of a preoccupied public that it
should be Interested In a memory.
It is the big mill that attracts atten
tion. And it is safe to say that the big
gest and best in all the Northwest is
situated in Portland. Indeed, it is claimed
that there are several "biggest and best"
In this favored city. Therefore, a descrip
tion of one is, in a sense, a description
of all, for all are nrst-class, up-to-deio
lumber factories. At Is&st tfcKt-te tkaia-
s Making Slabs,
Re&etyfer the Sau?
formation that will probably be given
you, If .you set out to investigate for
On million feet of lumber is the dally
output of tho Portland mills. One mill
alone saws 140,000 feet every 10 hours.
Its buildings and yards occupy a ground
space of IS acres, and its machinery Is of
the latest and best. Millions of feet of
lumber, in the log, are enclosed in its
capacious boom. The boom men are busy
all day long with their pike poles, select
ing the logs, as they are required to fill
orders, and landing them at the foot of
tho log slip, where they are caught by
the "dogs" on the endless "haul-up"
chain and carried up into the mill.
In 'the Mill.
Here it is that the first step towarJt
actually converting them into merchant
able lumber is begun. The logs lie
where they have been deposited until the
logtender hooks a chain into one of
their sides and starts them rolling down
a short inclined plant to the "carriage."
There are three men stationed at Inter
vals upon this carriage, which, by the
way, Is capable of accommodating a log
125 feet in length and of any circumfer
ence Icnown to "Western mlllmen.
Tb carriage-tenders ere subject-to-the
tern, cut the lumber up into shorter
The lumber Is also sorted as it comes
from the edger. That which. Is ready for
the yards goes out upon the rollers, and
that destined for the planers Is carried,
by means of endless chains, to the cars
which run upon slightly Inclined tracks.
It Is carefully piled, with air spaces be
tween, and pushed into the kiln, the large
doors of which slide upward at a touch.
The kiln Is underlaid and lined witn
steam pipes, and a temperature of 165 tp
175 degrees is maintained therein for a
period, varying from 48 to 72 hours, ac
cording to the size and thickness of the
stick, and which thoroughly dries tho
The laden trucks are now pushed out
of the drying-room, through upward
sliding doors, opposite the entrance, and
are rolled upon a wide, flat car, waiting
to receive them. The cars move over
slightly Inclined rails to the, vast, roofed
space occupied by the planers. Here the
lumber is again sorted and all Imperfect
planks, including those that have become
warped or split In the process of season
ing, are rejected, thrown to one Bide and
designated as "sizing."
Tho clear lumber is borne-to the -plan
ers, of which there are many, from the
machine that smooths tno big, square
timbers to those that make flooring and
rustic woods. They are all supplied with
large, galvanlzed-iron air plpe3 which, by
means of suction, convey to the boiler
room the shavings, thus adding "to the
already generous stock of "cut" fuel. The
furnaces are fed with this "cut" fuel,
which Is pushed from the main mill up
long chutes by means of an endless chain
of giant proportions, furnished, at regu
lar intervals, w 1th conveying "buckets
which, by the way, are simply Iron bars
or blocks attached to the chain.
Three men are required to operate each
of the planers the "feeder," the "offbear
er" and the "grader." As it emerges
from the planer, the lumber is sorted
for the last time, and the boards are
tied with Manila bale rope In lots of three
for convenience In handling. The yard
men load the graded product upon two
wheeled horse trucks and convey It to
the waiting freight cars or vessel, or
stack it conveniently for the local trade.
A Noisy, Busy Place.
It is 'S busy place, this mill, which you
are to understand is but one of the sev
eral "biggest and best." There is noise,
- nofsQt noise! ton cannot hear the sound
of your own voice, though you scream
yourself hoarse, but tnere is no con
fusion. Each man stands In his appoint
ed place and performs his part of tne
labor, by merely touching the ever-present
lover. Nobody attempts to talk. Or
ders are given and Instructions Issued In
sign language, evidently. The working
force is, so far as outward observation is
enabled to determine, supplied with an
effective code of signals.
The man at the big band saw, In the
main mill building, and who seems to
be the commander-in-chief, lifts his
hand, and the man on the carriage knows
what he means. Everything moves with
the regularity and precision of clock
work. Nobody seems to bo really work
ing. The men scattered through the mill
have, at the first glance, an appearance
of leisure. They stand about In easy atti
tudes, and It is only when-you regard
them with close attention, that you notice
the Intent, alert look. In the eyes, ant
understand that they occupy positions
that entail responsibility. A mistake, as
instant's forgetfulness or neglect of duty
might mean unlimited disaster, both to
life and property.
The men with the short picks, beveled
like axes, keep the rollers and the endless-chain
conveyors clear of obstructions,
and see that the discarded slabs And theft
way to the cut-off saws, of which there
are many. As a slab brings up against
this set of saws, it Is Instantly cut into
two and four-foot lengths and dumped
down a wide chute Into waiting wagons.
The Blacksmith Shop.
Every modern saw mill has its own,
blacksmith shop, where breakages aro re
paired and where chains and bolts and
bars and tools are made continually.
There is a department for filing and gum
ming the various kinds of saws. An au
tomatic flier Is. among the wonderful in
ventions of the age.
There is also a big creosote vat or
tank, floored with steam pipes, wherein
are dipped the railroad ties and timbers
that are used by certain transportation
lines. Close to the creosote tank is a side
track, upon which the flat cars are run,
to be loaded with the heavy timbers. A
dynamo furnishes the light for the entire
plant. Steam Is, of course, the motive
The men who handle the machinery are
a capable and intelligent-looking lot, and
fairly represent the dignity of lab'or. The
working force at some Portland mills is
large, In one case numbering 200 men.
The day at this particular mill is 10 hours
long, and the average dally wage Is 51 75,
although the head sawyer receives 55 per
day, and the man at the second saw 54;
the engineer's salary Is ?100 per month.
Above 700 men are employed in the Port
land saw mills, and "the monthly pay-roll
ot each one of the four large concerns
that cut lumber for the export trade
mounts up Into thousands of dollars.
There are mammoth mills on the Oregon
side of the Columbia River, that excite
the wonder and admiration of all be
holders, on account of the unique devices
emploj ed in handling both logs and lum
ber. Oregon's Lumber Output.
Coos County last year estimated Its cut
at 27,000,000 feet, representing a value of
5300.000. Clatsop cut 25,000,000 feet, .valued
at 5250,000, and Clackamas 16,000,000 feet.
Klamath County, whose mills show the
smallest results of any section In Oregon
where lumber Is manufactured at all, cut
but 10,000 feet. The total output for tho
year, ending last December was 669.650.000
feet for the whole state, representing a
cash value of 56,228,250. The output of the
Portland mills alone was valued at some
thing over a million and a halt in dol
lars and cents.
The market for Oregon lumber, after the
local demand, which Is considerable, is
supplied. Is largely In the East, although
California takes a fair percentage of Ore
gon's product. Utah uses a certain
amount of our dressed lumber, such as
flooring, "rustic" and cedar for Interior
finishing. Colorado wants only timbers,
in the rough, for railroad ties and bridge
beams. Indeed, excepting a limited de
mand for cedar and for spruce, which is
used for boxes and shelving, the Eastern
trade calls for the most ot the unplaned
Oregon-flr product. At present the trade
with the Orient is. In a measure, cut
off, curtailed by the disturbed state of
'affairs In China. A3 a natural conse
quence, prices range lower than at this
tima last year.
Fluctuations In Price.
Perhaps there is no article of com
merce which Is subject to a greater fluc
tuation in market values than lumber.
There Is certainly none other that Is so
absolutely governed by those two honest
factors supply and demand.
The lumber ships that are wont to carry
the product of the Portland mills across
the high seas to the shores of the ifar
East are diverted to other uses, and the
bulk of the lumber manufactured here
now goes toward "the place where the
sun rises," over the transcontinental rail
way lines. About 40,000 feet per day of tha
local output, according to the estimate
furnished by a prominent lumberman, goes
to supply the local demand.
Portland lumber dealers handle only the
local product. The Valley mills and those
In the southern part of the state send
their surplus southward by rail. Those
along the coast load the small vessels
that ply between the minor seaports and
San iFrancisco. And, of course,, the mills
to eastward ship by rail across tho
Rockies. IiISCHEN H. MTItT.TSR.