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Route 2 Slaton, Texas 79364

Driving through West Texas, where trees are a luxury, one
wouldn’t expect to see a saw mill ripping up timber. But if you
are ever traveling down US 84 and come to a town called Slaton,
keep your eyes peeled and you might catch Jerry Kitten
demonstrating his antique saw mill powered by his Kitten steam
engine tractor.

Most of this area was not settled until after the turn of the
century. The area is flat, semi-arid, with no trees. Only later was
mesquite brought up from the south by the cattle drives because the
cattle ate the mesquite seeds. So, in order to demonstrate his saw
mill, Jerry Kitten imports logs from East Texas, a distance of 350

Once or twice a year Jerry pulls the saw mill out and fires up
his steam tractor and shows his customers and antique buffs how
they cut wood before automation made these saw mills and tractors
obsolete (Jerry has found only three other mills that are in part
time use today.)

Jerry acquired the saw mill several years ago from John Garland
of Dale, Indiana, who was using the mill part time. John bought it
from the original owner. Last year the engine was over hauled the
first time since it was manufactured. This engine was used on the
saw mill at Ferdinand for thirty years, so it was time for a little
work. The mechanic who did the overhauling worked on steam engines
for the Santa Fe Railroad for twenty or thirty years, so the work
was easy and correct.

The most recent show at Kitten-Moseley Fertilizer was quite a
sight to see. The tractor and saw mill are parked on the pavement
in front of the store which is right next to the highway (US 84).
Now the Kitten saw mill needs about 100 HP to operate so the
governor kicks in right away. The engine dances a little if
it’s not blocked securely. But after putting a wedge here and
there, she sits like a rock. So with 100 psi steam and a five foot
blade the Kitten engine really makes some fine music. You might say
the engine purrs ‘like a kitten’. So a lot of visitors just
driving by stop on the access road to watch and listen.

This show was particularly interesting because the ‘Crank
and Push’ region of the American Antique Car Association was
present with about 90 antique cars and 250 people. As antique
lovers, they enjoyed hearing an old steamer run. You might wonder
what happens to the lumber after it’s been cut. Some of it has
been used to construct a room inside the office building at
Kitten-Moseley. The room has a wood burning stove sitting on an oak
floor. The walls are paneled with different widths of oak and ash
that were laid at different angles so each wall has its own special
design. A wooden bar complements one wall and a domino table built
of ash also sits in one corner. A couple of rocking chairs were
added to finish this rustic-looking sitting room which is used year
round for ‘chewing the fat’ with customers and friends. It
is especially pleasant during those cold days in the winter. (For
this show, there were a couple of logs of Bodeark Osage Orange a
yellow wood. The people attending the show wanted samples of the
unusual wood, so it was given away as fast as it was cut.)

So even if you are driving down US 84 around Slaton and
don’t catch Jerry showing his machines, stop anyway at
Kitten-Moseley Fertilizer and he’ll be happy to give you and
your family a personally guided tour of his antique equipment.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment