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Research: Sawmill Database

Alpha-Numeric Key: HD-59
Corporate Name: Olive, Sternenberg and Company
Local Name: Sunset Sawmill
Owner Name: S. C. Olive, president with J. A. Sternenberg, manager
Location: Olive (Sunset), three miles north of Kountze
County: Hardin
Years in Operation: 32 years
Start Year: 1881
End Year: 1912
Decades: 1880-1889,1890-1899,1900-1909,1910-1919
Period of Operation: Began operations in October 1881 with timber exhausted in 1912.
Town: Olive (Sunset)
Company Town: 1
Peak Town Size: 1200 in 1905
Mill Pond:
Type of Mill: Rough and dressed lumber
Sawmill Pine Sawmill Hardwood Sawmill Cypress Sawmill
Planer Planer Only Shingle Paper
Plywood Cotton Grist Unknown
Power Source: Steam
Horse Mule Oxen Water
Water Overshot Water Turbine Diesel Unknown
Pit Steam Steam Circular Steam Band
Gas Electricity Other
Maximum Capacity: 50000: 1890100000: 1904
Capacity Comments: 50,000 feet in 1890 to 100,000 in 1904
Rough Lumber Planed Lumber Crossties Timbers
Lathe Ceiling Unknown Beading
Flooring Paper Plywood Particle Board
Treated Other
Equipment: Circular saws initially; bands by 1904. A complete sawmill plant with planers, dry kilns, company town.
Company Tram:
Associated Railroads: Texas & New Orleans.
Historicial Development: Sidney C. Olive and John Abraham Sternenberg, excited by the railroad moving through Hardin County, began relocating their milling interests from Beaumont and Houston to Hardin County in July, 1881. They erected a circular mill with a 40,000 board feet daily capacity and were cutting their first bill of lumber in October that same year. Business prospered, and by 1889 the mill's capacity increased to 65,000 board feet per day, although the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe locating engineer, R. L. Van Sant, reported to his chief engineer that the cut was only 50,000 feet in 1890. The town became known as Olive but was listed as Sunset in an 1884 railroad directory. The town had a brass band, saloon, company store, and segregated churches and schools. The saloon and store kept regular hours, closing at 6:00 P.M. The town's population numbered 500 in 1889; 976 in 1900; and 1200 in 1905. The 1900 census revealed that the predominant race was white, with 804 Caucasians and 172 African-American. Olive & Sternenberg regularly sponsored and fielded company baseball teams. A set of photographs of Sidney C. Olive (1833-1906) and the Olive Sternenberg mill at Olive (ca. 1892) are located at the Texas Forestry Museum, Lufkin. The company tram road snaked eight miles into the woods by 1904. Two initial officers in the management, V. A. Petty, secretary-treasurer, and G. A. Sternenberg, mill foreman, became owners in 1900. The sawmill burned in 1904 and was rebuilt as a band mill having a 100,000 feet per day capacity. Several changes in management were made in the early 1900s, but the mill continued to prosper until the timber supply was exhausted in 1912.
Research Date: JKG 10-13-93, MCJ 03-13-96
Prepared By: J Gerland, M Johnson