Frick Buzzes Again


| July 2002



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The old Frick sawmill

David Bowden of Goodlettsville, Tenn., likes to build things out of wood and he loves local history - and that's what led him to become the owner of a 1920 model '01' Frick circular sawmill.

The mill formerly belonged to 88-year-old Robert Garrett, a fifth-generation farmer whose land is just down the road from David's farm. 'Mr. Robert's' father, J.M.Garrett, first bought and operated the sawmill.

'Years ago, almost every rural community had at least one farm family that owned a mill,' David notes. 'With the advent of modern steel manufacturing techniques, farm implement companies began the production of these affordable mills. Aultman & Taylor, Allis Chalmers, J.I. Case, Chandler and Taylor, and, of course, Frick were among the better-known companies that produced these mills. There were a lot more.'

Goodlettsville is near the Shackle Island area, a small, Southern, semi-rural community 25 miles north of Nashville. 'Many of the houses and farms were started by settlers who received Revolutionary War land grants,' David says. He grew up during a time when everyone there farmed, but today, suburban sprawl has taken much of the original agricultural land.

'My wife, Sharon, and I and our three children (now grown) have managed to hang onto 40 acres of rough, hilly land,' he says. 'Our house, the barns and sheds are made of old logs and timbers, either salvaged from other buildings or cut from our own woods, recreating the historic style of the area.'

The Garretts' sawmill helped many local farmers turn logs into lumber over the years. The first mill that the senior Garrett bought was a Frick friction mill, and the power to run it was supplied by a Frick steam engine, which also ran a gristmill on the Garrett farm. 'Mr. Robert can remember going to Nashville with his dad and pulling that steam engine home with a team of mules,' David says.