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Research: Sawmill Database

Alpha-Numeric Key: JE-35
Corporate Name: Kirby Lumber Company Mill A
Local Name: Beaumont
Owner Name: Kirby Lumber Company Mill A. Reliance Lumber Company. W. Mark, V. Wiess, and Potter.
Location: On the right bank of the Neches River, one and a half miles below Brake's Bayou.
County: Jefferson
Years in Operation: 43 years
Start Year: 1878
End Year: 1920
Decades: 1870-1879,1880-1889,1890-1899,1900-1909,1910-1919,1920-1929
Period of Operation: 1878, Reliance Lumber; Kirby, 1902 to 1920s.
Town: Beaumont
Company Town: 1
Peak Town Size: 25,000 in 1905; 65,000 in 1928; 57,732 in 1934
Mill Pond:
Type of Mill: General lumber products, but primarily ties, timbers, and other large rough cut lumber for Mexican export and the oil fields
Sawmill Pine Sawmill Hardwood Sawmill Cypress Sawmill
Planer Planer Only Shingle Paper
Plywood Cotton Grist Unknown
Other
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: 188290000: 189390000: 1901
Capacity Comments: 90,000 feet of lumber in 1893 and 1901
Produced:
Rough Lumber Planed Lumber Crossties Timbers
Lathe Ceiling Unknown Beading
Flooring Paper Plywood Particle Board
Treated Other
Equipment: 1878: sawmill with a double-circular saw & a 5-gang saw. 1885: automatic slab carrier, line rollers, a shotgun-feed log carriage, overhead sprinkler system, steam dry kilns, separate boiler houses, steam-powered log turner, Corliss steam engines, and a 2
Company Tram:
Associated Railroads: Gulf Beaumont & Kansas City; Texas & New Orleans
Historicial Development: Reliance Lumber Company, during its operation of nine months in the census of 1880, employed up to sixty employees, normally an average of fifty men and three boys working eleven hours daily during summer and winter. Skilled workers were paid a daily wage $3.50, unskilled $1.50; a total yearly wage of $20,000 was paid by the company. It cut 9,000,000 board feet for a value of $90,000. In 1880, Reliance constructed a canal one thousand yard long from its mill pond to the Neches River. The mill grew to employ 125 men. Reliance Lumber electrified its plant, offices, mills and the sash, door and blind factory. On Pine Street, between Reliance Lumber Company and the Magnolia Cemetery, Mark Wiess built tenant housing for his African-American workers, “several rows of identical ‘shotgun' houses. . . . painted a bright red with red lead paint, and the area soon became known as ‘Red Town.'” Reliance Lumber Company built a new mill on the old Goldsmith and Regan mill site with all new equipment. In 1881, Valentine Wiess and William Wiess bought out McFaddin and Ward. Mark Wiess invented a primitive steam cylinder that moved the saw carriage forward and backwards, the forerunner of the shotgun feed, speeding the carriage and eventually raising output to 50,000 feet daily. By 1885, the mill had an automatic slab carrier, line rollers, a shotgun-feed log carriage, overhead sprinkler system, steam dry kilns, separate boiler houses, steam-powered log turner, Corliss steam engines, and a boom for 20,000 logs. Continually improving and upgrading the operations, the mill and its business expanded, culminating in the 1891 contract with the Omaha, Kansas Central, & Galveston Railroad for a hundred million feet in crossties, bridge and timber trestles, and depot materials. It was the largest contract awarded in the country to that time. Kirby bought the operation in 1901, concentrating on supplying the oil field needs. The mill closed for a year, was completely refurbished, operated until 1920, and closed and dismantled.
Research Date: MCJ 03-12-96
Prepared By: M Johnson