ONE MAN OPERATION - Seventy-year old David Shearer of York Road demonstrates his agility as he operates his power saw. Some 60,000 to 70,000 board feet lumber is cut annually on the saw.
Sentinel Staff Writer
Sixty or more years of contact with the outdoors has caused 70-year-old David P. Shearer of South Middleton Township to become a seasoned woodsman and sawmill operator.
Shearer who has operated his one- man mill for the past 32 years along the Ridge Road section of York Road, was born and raised in Perry County's woodlands. Outdoor living has come natural to him.
Although the years have slowed the expert lumberman down just a little, he still handles a volume of business which would keep a man much younger than he hustling. Shearer figures he cuts from 60 to 70,000 board feet of lumber annually on his diesel driven mill.
The well - known county resident has thrived in his outdoor venture and has stuck with it, as he put it 'because I like wood.'
Shearer, mused, 'I have no boss' breathing down my neck and when I want to quit, I close down and go home and watch TV.'
Shearer used to travel within a radius of 10 to 12 miles of his operation to bring in the logs but now the business comes to him. His work is mostly handline custom made orders for his many associates.
He turns out lumber for various repair jobs, cabinet wood and for any other order he receives. He personally sees to it that every order is carried out to the desires of the customer. He operates his one - man mill from eight to five daily. In the Winter, when snow is on the ground, he goes out to check the mill to see that all is well and returns home.
A recent order received by the county saw mill owner was for 3,00b feet of walnut and 1,000 feet of cedar wood which was used in the Dillsburg school by shop youth in turning out cedar chests, portable sewing machine cabinets and hi-fi boxes. In spite of his age, Shearer has little difficulty in carrying out his operation. He uses a winch mounted on a truck to get the loss to the mill site, then they are heaved into place with a cant hook. The resulting boards are cut to the size desired by the customer.
Shearer laments' the fact mat the day of chestnut lumber cutting is just about over. A blight of some 20 years ago wiped out most of the chestnut wood.
The county resident is a steam engine buff. He is a member of the Williams Grove Steam Engine Association and is a former director of the organization.
He has housed on his property an old-time steam driven saw mill built in 1880 by William J. Barley and Sons of New Jersey. The boiler is not controlled by a governor. The steam driven saw can make 400 RPM. H e has restored it with new rings, new belt and various other parts it needed.
So anxious was Shearer to get the piece of equipment, he spent two years in coaxing the former owner to sell it. Already he has $800 invested in it.
Another conversation piece at Shearer's mill is a Frick traction engine. It was built in 1919 and is a 275 pound hydrostatic steam pressure engine. It weighs eight and a half tons and carries 250 gallons of water. It will be shown at the Williams Grove Steam Engine show in August.
In Shearer's earlier days he was in the lime business and worked hard in digging the limestone with ten - pound sledge and sometimes an air hammer. He was also in the lime . burning business producing at times 10,000 bushels a year. He burned six cars of coal annually in turning out the lime.
Some of the lime produced by the local man was placed on the farm now owned by General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Mrs. Eisenhower in Adams County prior to the ownership of the former President.
Shearer has been married to the former Essie Ellen Shughart for the past 42 years. He has four daughters, Mrs. Ida Eppley. Carlisle; Mrs. Norma Smyers, Idaville, Mrs. Freda Bender. Mechanicsburg and Mrs. Dorothy Neal of East Brunswick, N.J.