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The Minneapolis journal. (Minneapolis, Minn.) 1888-1939, August 31, 1905, Commerical and Financial Publicity Section, Image 18

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045366/1905-08-31/ed-1/seq-18/

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By Charles
Minneapolis has
always will be a great lumber^enter.
Sawmills have clustered OToout St.
Anthony Falls ever since there was any
Minneapolis, and in fact, they were
humming years before. There was a
sawmill in. old. St. Anthony before there
was a house, and lumber from the first
mill built the original village on the
east bank of the river. Since that day
the city and the lumber industry have
grown together. As a lumber-produc
ing point the cit-y has reached its maxi
mum, but those who prophesy a future
decline of the industry here are not fa
miliar with" the situation. As a dis
tributing center for the northwest,
Minneapolis is in no danger of losing
B. Cheney,
been, is now, and
irestge. Both -wholesale and retail xn
have gravitated here as to their
natural meeting point, and here they
will remain.
In the Lead for Twenty Years.
For twenty years Minneapolis has
been the world's greatest luhiber cen
ter. The combination of mills and
wholesale interests has maintained it
in that position, and tho several man
ufacturing companies have wound up
their existence here, the Lumber Ex
change shelters a larger number of
lumbermen today than ever in its his
tory. New concerns are appearing
every week, and everything attests the
prosperity of the industry.
From the small beginnings of ante
bellum days to the vast proportions of
today It IS a far cry, but from the first
white ^settlement here the city has been
marked by nature as a natural lum
ber market. The great pine forests of
the upper Mississippi find this their
outlet. In the earliest times logs were
cut and floated in the streams to the
mill, and half a century of invention
has discovered no cheaper and more ef
fective method. Logs cut on the banks
of the Mississippi and its tributaries
were easily driven to Minneapolis, but
not so easily handled in their plunge
over the falls and down the rapid
course below. Minneapolis was in those
days the nearest practical sawing point
to the market, which then lay down the
river. The arrival of the railroads
gave the city distributing outlets in
every direction, and while it made mills
possible above and below, the superior
facilities here have always attracted
the largest producing factors.
Beginnings of Industry.
The first mill at the falls was a crude
affair built in 1821 by soldiers, to sup
ply lumber for Fort Snelling. It was
soon abandoned. The lumber indus
try in Minnesota actuallv began on the
St. Croix, with a mill at Marine in
1839, and one at Stillwater in 1843.
It was in 1847, the year of St. An
thony's founding, that Ard Godfrey
built a small mill at the east end of
the dam which spanned the east chan
nel over to Hennepin island. He built
it for Franklin Steele, taking an inter
est himself. The mill had two circu
lar saws, and was capable of sawing
15,000 feet of lumber in a day. From
its product were built the early houses
of St. Anthony, which grew so fast
that more mill were started alongj this
dam, running by waterpower.
The First Mill.
The first mill on the West Side was
built by Ard Godfrey at the mouth of
Minnehaha creek, -where the boat land
ing now is. in 1S53, but it did not
thrive. The first paying mill on the West
Side was built in 185G bv "Pomeroy,
Bates & Co., near the mouth of Bassett 's
creek, and ran at a lively rate until
1859, when it burned down and was
not rebuilt because waterpower was so
much cheaper. The pioneer sawmill men
actually spanned the river with a dam
in 1358, a short distance above tho falls,
and put in sawmills along the dam. The
largest, called the Pioneer mill, was at
the west bank. The mills and dam
all burned in 1570, but another dam -was
built 300 feet nearer the falls, and more
mills built. Those mills were primitive
in machinery and methods, of course,
compared with the monsters of today,
but they answered the purpose of the
The first big steam power mill was
built by J. Dean & Co., in 1866, at the
foot of First averue X, where the Wis
consin Central freighthouse now stands.
I was called the Pacific mill, and -was
run by the first owners till 1876, when
it was sold to Camp & Walker. Mean
while, other steam power mills had been
started along both banks, and the in
dustry began to take on the look it
has today. Most of the companies man
ufacturing here today are comparative
ly recent arrivals in tho field, but mills
have been running on most of the sites
for decades, passing into different hands
from time to time.
Oldest Organization.
Since the very early davs of lum
bering on the upper river, the work of
driving the logs in the Mississippi and
some of the tributary streams has been
handled economically bv a single organi
zation owned bj' the manufacturers.
This organization is far older than any
of the present manufacturing companies,
The Mississippi S: Rum River Boom
company was formed in 1850 by the con
solidation of two concerns, and has
been running ever since. It now makes
a common drive of logs from Brainerd
to Minneapolis, turns them in the local
booms to the different mills, and follows
the logs destined for mills down the
river to the boom at St. Paul, whero
they are made up into rafts.
Custom sawing has been a feature of
the trade here since oarlv vears, and.
this is the first year that all mills have
been operated bv their owners with
their own logs. Until this season large
wholesale concerns have bought logs
and hired the sawing done at custom
in ills, but the practice lias been falling
into disuse gradually on account of the
high price of logs, which made it im
practicable for companies not owning
their own stumpage to engage in man
ufacturing. Last spring the Diamond
mill, which had done custom sawing
foi twenty years, burned cloWh, and will
not be rebuilt, and the Plymouth mill
has been dismantled The number of
companies actually in the manufactur
ing business here is the smallest in
many years, but the total product has
not decreased greatly in volume, and
the advancing value of lumber has kept
the money value of the product equal
to the biggest vears of the business.
Present-Day Manufacturers.
Seven companies are now manufactur
ing pine lumber in Minneapolis. They
are the C. A. Smith Lumber company,
the Bovey-DeLaittre Lumber company,
the Itasca Lumber company, the North
land Pine company, the Carpenter-Lamb
Lumber company, the Shevlin-Carpenter
Lumber company, and B. F. Nelson &
Son's company. All of them are com
paratively recent in their organization,
tho some of the mills have a longer
The C. A. Smith Lumber company,
which now has the largest producing
null, dates from 1878, but at that time
was a retail concern. It later went
General Office,
44th Ave. N. and Lyndale.
"'VA t* T,J
4 Thursday Evening1, ITHE MINNEAPOLIS JOURNAL. I^WI^WP^ August 31, i905.^pXv^C^/^,T.. iftr-
Sawmills in operation in Minneapolis '.,....7
Lumber wholesalers and jobbers 9 1
Line yard (retail) companies with offices nere......-......,. 57
Local retail yards 10
Sash and door companies 17
Other factories using lumber as chief raw material 30
into manufacturing on the east bank
of the river, but it was not until 1893
that the present fine modern mill was
erected at Camden Place. It has a full
complement of machinery for reducing
the waste products, including a box
factory and the factor of the North
westeru Oompo Boaid company.
The Bovey-DeLaittre Lumber com
pany, which has the mill at Washington
and Thirty-ninth avenue N, is the suc
cessor of Eastman, Bovey & Co., which
built a mill at the falls, on the West
Side, in 1870. Later they bought the
Butler mill, on the east bank, and when
this mill burned, they erected the pres
ent plant and began manufacturing
there 1886.
The Carpenter-Lamb Lumber com
pany, whose plant looks across the river
from the East Side at the mills just
mentioned, had its inception in 'the
Aclams-Horr company, sash and door
jobbers, which later'became Carpenter
Brothers & Co., and turned the iobbing
business over to the Curtis & Yale com
pany in 1892, building the mill and be
ginning the manufacture of lumber in
1893. In 1898 the copartnership was
changed, to the incorporation, as the
Carpenter-Lamb Lumber company.
The Itasca Lumber company is an old
corporation, existing for a number of
years as a timber holding and logging
company, but has only had the mill
since 1902. The mill was originally
built in 1887 by the Soto Lumber
company at Twenty-eighth avenue N
and Washington, to saw logs for the
Itasca Lumber company, but after two
years the H. C. Akeley Lumber com
pany was organized and took the mill.
The Itasca Lumber company furnished
the logs as before, and the plant ran
in this way until 1902, when Mr. Ake
ley retired from business, and the H. C.
Akeley Lumber company was bought
out by the Itasca Lu^nber company,
now in complete charge of the business.
The Nelson mills, now operated by
B. F. Nelson Sons & Co. with the Nel
son Tuthill "Lumber company s the sell
ing corporation, are near tee old dis*
trict and of older origin. One was built
in 1869 by Captain John llins, and
in 1880 the firm of Nelson & Tenney
was organized. It bought the Rollins
mill and rebuilt it, and in 1885, as the
Nelson-Tenney Lumber company, built
the companion mill near by. The "Nel
son Tuthill Lumber company was organ
ized in 1898 to take charge of the lum
ber stocks and sales, and in 1902 B. F.
Nelson Sons & Co. took over the mill
The mill of the Noi thland Pine com
pany at Thirty second avenue N and
Washington, was first built by the
Northern Mill company, and sold by
them in 1893 to the Backus-Brooks
Lumber company. The mill was
burned to the ground in the disastrous
3'ear of 1S94, but immediately rebuilt,
and operated bv the Backus-Brooks
Lumber company antil the close of last
season. It was sold last winter tc the
Northland Pine compan'v, which is now
y, vf ^i^
Something of the History of the Lumber Industry in This City, Its Present Condition and Its Prospects for the Future
Minneapolis a Great Center of
Manufacturers and Dealers in Lumber
Total concerns in lumber trade 212
operating the mill. This corporation
has been engaged in logging for a num
ber of years, but has never before man
ufactured. It is backed by the Wey
erhaeuser & Denkmann, Mus'ser & Laird
interests, an-d has timber resources that
are likely to keep it going after all the
other local mills have ceased opera
tions. 1
The Shevlin-Carpenter Lumber com
pany dates from 1892 but the mill it
operate*! was built by the same inter
ests in the winter of 1886-87. In May,
1886, the Hall & Ducey Lumber com
pany was formed by Stephen A. Hall,
P. A. Ducey of Detroit, Mich. Thomas
H. Shevlin and Hovey C. Clarke. Tho
Hall & Shevlin Lumber company was
formed in the fall of the same year for
the purpose of building a mill on the
site formerly occupied by the Goodnow
mill at Fourth avenue N* and the river,
which burned down 1886. This com
pany was composed of S. A. Hall,
Thomas H. Shevlin and Hovey C.
Clarke. During the first year the logs
of the Hall & Ducey Lumber company
were sawed at the old Camp & Walker
mill, occupying the site now used for
coach tracks just north of the Union
depot. That winter the new mill was
built, and the first-named company
bandied the timber and the lumber
after it came from the mill, the Hall
& Shevlin Lumber company doing the
sawing. In 1892 the two companies
-were merged as the Shevlin Carpenter
Lumber company, E. L. Carpenter hav
ing purchased a portion of the Hall
interests. Since that time both timber
interests and manufacturing have been
handled by the well-known company.
The Minneapolis saw mills alone have
a working force of 2,500 mec luring the
sawing season, which generally lasts
from the middle of April to the early
part of November. The average wage
of employees is close to $3 a day, and
on that basis the total yearlv pav roll
of the mill is figured at $1,365,000.
V?st Volume of Product.
A street-car ride up the river will
give any one some idea of the vastness
of the Minneapolis lumber industry, but
the piles of lumber awaiting shmment
at any one time aie only a small part
of the year's production, for miUions
of feet are beingshippe out every
week, winter and summer. Large man
ufacturing establishments in other
cities take it by the train load, but the
bulk of it goes to ietai] lumber yards
in the northwest and central west, to
supply the buildil-a' demands of the
poople Last yeir Minneapolis shipped
350,816,000 feet of lumber. The prod
uct of the local mills during the sawing
season of 1904 was 386,911,000 feet.
To give some conception of the fig
-uies, it may help to say that the local
lumber product ot 1904 would lay a
board walk three feet wide the entire
circumference of the earth.
The production of lumber in the past
thirty-five years** "at Minneapolis has
Lumber Manufacturers.
Minneapolis Minnesota.
I^^SSMM ^aUiMfo^
mounted to the dizzy total of 11,134,-
513,451 feet. If it was desired to
make that boardwalk around the world
into a commodious promenade, that
amount of lumber would give it a
width of eighty-four feet. The fol
lowing table shows the production of
lumber each year at Minneapolis since
1870, when the industry first began to
take on modern proportions
Production for Thirty-five Years.
Year Feet Out Year
1870 118,233,113
1871 117 5-.7.028
1&72 167,918,814
1W8 189,009,782
1874 191,305 070 1893 409,000,000
1875 156,005,000
1S76 200,371,377
1877 120 070,000
1878 130 274 076
187 14,74o,347
I!o H)5,4.-)2,]82
1881 234 234,071
1882 314,363,168
1883 272 793,222
1884 300 724 373
ISisj 1U SOS K,6
1880 262 (.36.0191
1S37 220,S22,074| Total, 33
Feet Cut.
1889 273.853,648
1890 S4H "73 7B2
1891 447,713,2.52
1892 488,724,024
1894 491,236,000
1895 479.102.0W0
1806 307.179.U00
1S97 4C0 348.272
1898........ 4(59,701,0\)
1899 594,373,000
1900 501522,000
1901 578,113,000
1902 465.224,000
1903 432 144,000
1004 3St Oll.OOO
lt 337,603,3011 yeais. 11,134,513,451
As the volume of production has de
creased, the value per thousand has
steadily increased since the days of the
depression in 1894-96. The average
wholesale value of the Minneapolis mill
product for last year is estimated by
leading lumbermen at $17.25, taking
the average of the different mills,,
which gives a total value for the 1904
cut of $6,674,214. The value of the
lath and shingles turned out -would
ci ease this to $6,888,336, wholesale
price. This year, while the production
will fall somewhat behind last season
on account of the long interruption to
the sawing season due to high water,
the prices are higher than last year,
and the money value of the product is
likely to exceed last year.
Statistics kept by the Chamber of
Commerce for the past twenty-seven
years show graphically the develop
ment of the lumber industry, not only
as a manufacturing, but as a receiving
and distributing point. The total re
ceipts and shipments of lumber by feet
since 1878 are given in the following
Movement of Product.
Year Feet
18(8 18,510,000
1879 29,48 ),000
1880 20400000
1881 41,755,000
18S2 49.6SO000
l'-Si 37,695,0 10
1KS4 67,070,000
l^S'y 61.010 000
15-80 51,210 00*)
1887 04 850,000
lt8 59 294,000
3h8 fcS.dSVWil
1890" m.'uO.OOO
1V'l &V.25 0OO
5V)2 129,675.000
1S93 10.t 335,000
1894 101,205 000
ISO" Si, 150,00'
1896 68O20,(K
1ROT 9 2 1SOOO
WS 87,151,000
1S0J 95145 000
1001 US' 650 000
1002 170,150,000
1003 1TS.16S0O0
1904 148 048,000
172,000,000 149,720,000 167.840,000 122,540,000 1S6.739.000 lb3.082 000
138 492,000
246 49S OOO
238,tSO,00 COO 405,000
353.94." 000
372,330,000 b24,946,000
364,635,000 277.9S0.000 2S7 9S5 OOO
402 975 OOO
405,405.000 3S7.750 000
39 976.000
Total 1.2r"9,269,000, 7.524,324,000
Invasion of Other Woods.
White pine is still king of all lumber
in the northwest, but it is no longer
able to supplv the entire demands of
the territory within reach oi the mills.
For a decade the yellow pine mills_ of
the southern states have been pushing
their sales northward into former white
pine territory-. -The once despised hem-
ft is,
lock of Wisconsin has come largely into
use and has displaced pine for some
purposes. The vast resources of the
Pacific coast states are-being exploited
now at a rate y.'hich makes it necessary
to seek wider markets, and immense
quantities of fir and cedar are consumed
in the northwest, egpeeiallv wast of the
Missouri river. The production of the
coast mills is now enormous, and in
ten years the lumber shipments have
increased tenfold, and shingle shipments
threefold. Comparative figures of the
rail shipments from Pacific coast mills
aive an idea or. the leaps and bounds
by which the industry has developed
Lumber, Feet. Shingles.
1894 i. 64,245,000 1,756,000,000
1904 858,290,000 5,759,640,000
The lumber shipments last .year filled
43,872 cars, and the shingle shipments
36,069 cars. A large part of this ship
ment went cast, much of it thru Minne
sota Transfer to points beyond here and
even east of Chicago Even M-inneapo
lis last year received 37,616,000 feet
over the Great Northern and 45,136,000
feet over the Northern Pacific, of which
the bulk came from the coast. Large
amounts also came from the western
pine mills f Montana, Idaho and east
ern Washington, which are finding a
good market in the Dakotas.
Distributing Center for All.
Minneapolis is the center of distribu
tion for all these products in the north
west and the central west. The whole
sale trade here is growing each year,
and has reached enormous proportions.
Large jobbing firms have headquarters
here and forces of traveling men out.
Call Us Up
And Get Prices on Mil!
O. K. 2)4 Horse Power Engine
It Will be Exhibited at the State Fair Grounds, LeimoxBldg-
Minneapolis Office, 3o7 So. Third St.
H'SJX 'sfcyr.
tJCT, 1904
Amount Ft. Value.
Lumber 386,911,000
Lath 53,552,000
Shingles 32,063,000
Total alne $6,888,336
Sawmill employees, number.. 2,500
Annual payroll, locally.. .$1,365,000
The Pacific coast mills have salesoffice*
here, and there is a host of commission
men who act as connecting links be
tween small mills and retail dealers.
The competition is so keen that Minne
apolis is recognized as the cheapest
market, and the large retailers have
taken advantage of that fact es
tablishing headquarters here and buying
on the ground. No less than fifty-seven
outside retail or "line yard" companies,
according to the lumbermen[H credit
bcolt, have offices in this city, while
ninety-one separate concerns "or indi
viduals are dealing in lumber and its
products by wholesale or on commission.
The heads of these concerns, with their
army of emplovees, populate one down
town office building almost entirely, and
they are no mean factor in the city's
population and wealth.
In vears to come, when Minneapolis
will become of less importance as a
lumber-producing point, the wholesale
trade will gain in importance. The
lumber now sold by local mills will
be brought from elsewhere, and still
distributed from Minneapolis. The im
portance of Minneapolis as a lumber
citv will never wane.

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