PART M: SAWMILLS AND LOGGING ELSEWHERE IN ORANGE COUNTY

by W. T. Block

Vidor, Texas, became a principal logging camp of the Miller-Vidor Lumber Company about 1907 after that firm had purchased several thousand acres of prime timberland in western Orange County several years earlier. Officers of the Miller-Vidor firm included Charles H. Moore, chairman; A. W. Miller, president; C. S. Vidor, vice president; and B. I. Sparks, secretary-treasurer. All the men were from Galveston, and Moore was the veteran lumber dealer, who shared ownership with Eberle Swinford in two of the early shingle mills at Orange. The writer believes too that Moore had bought up the huge western Orange County timber reserve when he first came to Orange in 1876. The Miller-Vidor firm bought the United Lumber and Export sawmill at Beaumont in 1905, and quickly organized the Beaumont Sawmill Company to operate it. Miller-Vidor also organized the Orange Sawmill Company at Orange in 1907 and hired C. L. Hannah to manage their sawmill there.143

Miller-Vidor established its logging camp at Vidor, built logging tram railroads and spur lines all over western Orange County, and built its skidway for logs on the east bank of the Neches River. The Vidor logging camp employed 175 loggers and shipped 600,000 feet of logs to its mills daily. Logs were either dropped into the Neches River to be floated down to its mill plant near the Mobile Refinery in south Beaumont or logs were shipped on log trains over the Southern Pacific tracks to mills at either Orange or Beaumont. The Miller-Vidor sawmill at Orange (which will be dealt with separately) burned down in August, 1910, and after Miller-Vidor's Beaumont sawmill burned on January 5, 1918, the logging operations at Vidor gradually drew to a close.144

Texla, Texas, on the Orange and Northwestern Railroad, was first known as Bruce when the Harrell-Votaw Lumber Company built a sawmill there in 1905. According to the Southern Industrial and Lumber Review of 1906, the mill had a cutting capacity of 75,000 feet. In 1907, Harrell-Votaw sold out to the R. W. Weir Lumber Company of Houston, who changed the town's name to Texla. The mill employed 200 mill hands and loggers until Weir sold out to Miller-Link Lumber Company in 1917. In 1918 the sawmill burned, but Miller-Link soon replaced it with a double-circular mill of the same size in 1919. About 1920, Miller-Link sold out to the Peavy-Moore Lumber Company of Deweyville, who operated the mill until the timber was exhausted in 1929, the mill was dismantled, and the site was abandoned.145

Mauriceville, Texas, named for Maurice Miller of Miller-Link, was the junction point of the Orange and Northwestern Railroad and the Kansas City Southern Railroad. In 1949, the town had one sawmill, owned by--------------------, with a capacity of 50,000 feet daily, and the plant employed 125 mill hands and loggers. The mill was later dismantled.146

Terry, Texas, was a longtime flagstop and rail employee hotel and transfer point, where Southern Pacific train crews exchanged trains as far back as 1885. Named for John W. Terry, a railroad official, a sawmill of the Terry Lumber Company was operated there from 1915 until the timber was cut out in 1917.147

Established on the Kansas City Southern Railroad in 1897, one small sawmill town was first known as Baer, then Stanford, and then as Adrian before it became Doty, Texas, in 1905. The Pearsall Lumber Company operated a sawmill there from 1907 until 1907 when the timber there was exhausted and the mill was dismantled. A section house remained at Doty, Texas, until 1935, when the rail facility there was abandoned.148

Oilla, Texas, north of Orange, was laid out as a townsite on the Texas and New Orleans Railroad in 1913. The Russ Daniel Lumber Company operated a 35,000-foot sawmill there in 1915, which cut yellow pine, cypress, white oak, red oak, gum, and hickory logs. About fifty men worked for the mill, which cut both dimension and timbers, as well as laths, box shooks, crossties, and shingles. The Daniel sawmill is believed to have cut out and been dismantled around 1918, and after some years, the Oilla post office was discontinued as well.149

The writer has never located any logging or sawmill information for either Orangefield or Bridge City. In 1909, there was one sawmill in Orange County that the writer cannot connect with any named village. One editor noted that the:149a

. . . Alexander-Hardee Lumber Company are reported to have disposed of their mill and timber holdings in Orange County in January. They owned a sawmill and 3,000,000 feet of standing timber on the main line of the T. and N. O. (rail) road several miles west of Orange. The purchasers were C. G. Hooks of Kountze and a Mr. Crosswise of Dearborn, Texas....It is reported that the purchasers have arranged to secure a considerable amount of additional timber that can be hauled to the mill.....

Only one other Orange County sawmilling site is known by the writer to have existed outside the city of Orange. Lemonville, Texas, was established as a townsite in western Orange County on the Kansas City Southern Railroad in 1897. In 1900 the Lemonville Lumber Company built a 30,000-foot sawmill there, which changed hands two or three times during the next four years.150 In 1904, the Lemon Lumber Company operated a 60,000-foot sawmill and two planers there.151 In October, 1905, the Lemon Lumber Company "made a shipment of kiln-dried saps to Port Arthur" to be trans-shipped by water to Europe.152 It is not known exactly when Alexander Gilmer purchased the Lemonville sawmill, but when Gilmer died in July, 1906, his estate "owned a large stock in the Gilmer Lumber Company at Lemonville, of which he was president." Another source reported that the sawmill capacity there was increased to 125,000 feet daily and employed 200 mill hands.153 Later, the estate sold the sawmill to the Talbert-Dewey Lumber Company, who operated the mill until 1928, when the timber was exhausted, the mill was dismantled, and the site was abandoned.154


From W. T. Block, "East Texas Mill Towns and Ghost Towns, Vol I, pp. 245-297, copyrighted 1994, Piney Woods Foundation, Lufkin, TX.

Used with permission.

Back to Orange County History Page
Back to Orange County
TXGenWeb
USGenWeb