‘SAWMILLING IN THE SHADOW OF THE DEVILS TOWER’

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Courtesy of Jay Marsh, P.O. Box 371, Klamath Falls, Oregon Jay standing at the planer.
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Courtesy of Jay Marsh, P.O. Box 371, Klamath Falls, Oregon This picture shows me on the little Case and one of the Weaver boys shoving lumber through the planer.
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Courtesy of Jay Marsh, P.O. Box 371, Klamath Falls, Oregon This picture shows Mr. Weaver unhooking from the tank wagon and me a firing up! Devils Tower can be seen looking through the timber beyond engine and on the Weaver place. The Tower is about one mi
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Courtesy of Jay Marsh, P.O. Box 371, Klamath Falls, Oregon Here is a picture of an Advance 120 HP Cross Compound with me standing at the drive wheel in 1926.I traded this engine for the little Case in 1928.

P. O. Box 371, Klamath Falls, Oregon

During the fall of 1927 Smith & Wright, contractors, from
Thermopolis, Wyoming took the contract of finishing a steel bridge
at Devils Tower, Monument, across Belk Fourshe River. Since many of
the timbers needed for the supporting of the steel girders and
cross flooring were as long as 34 ft., it required a 3 head block
carriage sawmill.

There was but one mill the county that had 3 head blocks that
were available and it was an old American No. 3 Friction Feed and
Drive. A couple, of fellows by name of Kenedy and Christianson
bought the old sawmill and took the contract for furnishing the 5
thousand feet of lumber for the bridge. They hired me to pull the
mill with my Case 10-30 steamer. I also had a 25 x 75 Port Huron
just over the hill north, but it needed repairs. Kenedy had had no
experience but Christianson, his partner, had a little experience
on a No. 2 American mill just prior to their buying the No. 3
American. They were operating this mill for a neighbor. John Anraud
and I were firing his Nichols-Shepard 110 for them prior to taking
the bridge contract.

The No. 3 American needed lots of reconditioning, including the
saw should have been hammered. The friction feed cross shaft was
worn down below center, almost a inch causing the paper friction
pulleys to burn and cut out sometimes before sawing a thousand feet
of lumber. I tried to tell Kenedy that was the reason for the
pulleys going out.

I had worked for 10 years (winters) with sawmills, doing
everything but handle sawyers lever, but after Kenedy’s
‘what do you know about a sawmill?’ I went off and left
them sweat it out. Dut to the short runs and shut downs we did not
average 500 ft. a day and the contractors were in a turmoil. My
bosses, to save face, had shifted the blame to me, claiming their
shortcomings were due to lack of power. Surmising that this had
been restorted to by the sour look on the bridge contractor’s
face while I was at the Post Office, I asked him about it and upon
being told Kenedy had made that assertion I told Smith & Wright
to come on over and investigate for themselves. In a few days Smith
dropped over just as the boys had put on another paper pulley and
he gave me the ‘go ahead signal’ and by Christianson,
exercising great skill in not crowding things, they made the
longest run since we had been there of a few minutes over one
hour.

We were working on big logs 32 or 34 ft. long and 6 to 18 in
dimension, I believe, and Smith was tallying the feet per hour. He
came to me at the end of the hour saying we had sawed a few feet
over 600 that hour and at that rate they should saw 5,000 feet a
day. Yes, I told him. That was very true but this was the longest
continuous run we had ever made and the saw was right then
beginning to head and they would have to shut down. Which they did
just as soon as Smith dropped around the first bend in the back
trail, but not until I had reminded him that he had heard the Case
pop valve open at every cut of the saw and the reverse lever was
hooked up 2 notches just as he saw it then and there, going through
without any slow down through long logs and which with that hook-up
was putting out but about 70 percent of its power or less really!
Sure, Christianson could have given me a bad time, if he had a mind
to, and made it look like the picture Kenedy had stated.
Christianson, however, had considerable amount of principle,
although I believe he hoped by going slow his saw and friction
pulley might hold out until he could get my steam. My engine popped
through entire run. He only would have had to shove the friction
pulley over to the rim of the drive disc and a hundred horse engine
would have stopped dead in its tracks before the governor would
have had a chance to adjust itself to that load. Once the bosses,
while rushing the jug, walked right through the mill yard
‘fishing and hunting in Alaska’ and never realized where
they were till they had walked up canyon on skid road until they
found themselves up against a tree.

After we finely finished the bridge timber, and I’m
satisfied we cut over 100 thousand to get it, the boys sold their
No. 3 American to Miller Brothers of Casper, Wyoming. I sold
Millers my Port Huron. It was quite a contrast between those saw
mill men of Casper and my boys, since Miller’s were experts.
Taking that old mill, rebabbitting all the shafts and hammering the
saw, they sawed between 300 and 450 thousand feet, using same paper
pulleys that Kenedy and Christianson had left.

George Weaver, whose property we did the bridge timber cutting
on had bought the surplus lumber from the bad cuts made in getting
required bridge quota. Mr. Weaver made a deal with me to hook my
little Case on to a planer he had to plane the timber and lumber he
got. I was amazed at the little power it took to pull a planer,
thinking these 6 x 14 x 18 and 32 and 34 foot footers might pull
harder than the 56 inch mill saw, but found it took next to nothing
in power. Hooking the reverse up just on side of the center notch
the engine still wanted to run away so I put a block in the reverse
notch, shoving the lever half way into the center notch. Of course
the center notch would have stopped the engine, but the lever was
so near center the exhaust was extinct or sounding more like a
generator turning over or a triple compound.

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