LUMBERING IN SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA
A STUDY OF THE INDUSTRY AS A CULTURO-GEOGRAPHIC FACTOR
(Transcribed by Leora White,
Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the
Louisiana State University and
Agricultural and Mechanical College
In partial fulfillment of the
Requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
The Department of Geography
George Alvin Stokes
A.B., Louisiana State Normal College, 1942
M. S., Louisiana State University, 1949
Completion of this study was possible only through the
unvarying courtesy and patience with which the writer was
received by the many individuals interviewed. Their interest
in the subject made the conversations both pleasant and
The criticisms and suggestions of Dr. Fred H Kniffen and Dr.
Robert C. West of Louisiana State University were of much
assistance in the course of research and in bringing the
work to its final form.
Mr. John C. Guillet of Guillet Studios, Natchitoches, made
available to the writer the facilities of his studio, a
favor greatly appreciated. Another loan of photographic
equipment was very generously made by Mr. Le Roi E. Eversull.
Thanks is expressed to Dr. John S. Kyser and other members
of the Department of Social Sciences, Northwestern State
College, for their encouragement and advice.
A special word of gratitude must go to the writer’s wife,
who did as much as anyone to bring this study to completion.
LIST OF MAPS
LIST OF COMPANY HOUSE FLOOR PLANS
LIST OF PHOTOGRAPHS
1. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM AND METHODOLOGY
Statement of the problem
Importance of the study
Selection of an area for study
Selection of settlements
Locating the sawmill towns
Settlement study methods
II. THE SOUTHWEST
LOUISIANA LONGLEAF PINE DISTRICT
III. HISTORY OF LUMBERING IN
IV. SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA
The sawmill towns
The lumber camps
The steam skidders and logging trams
Summary and conclusions
APPENDIX A: SETTLEMENT STUDIES
APPENDIX B: GLOSSARY
LIST OF MAPS
I. Louisiana Tree
II. Southwest Louisiana
Longleaf Pine District
III. Louisiana Log-rafting
IV. Louisiana Pine
Forests - 1881
V. Louisiana Railroads,
VI. Louisiana Railroads,
VII. Louisiana Railroads, 1901; 1910
VIII. Louisiana Railroads, 1920; 1943
IX. Southwest Louisiana
Sawmill Towns, 1895 - 1910
X. Southwest Louisiana Sawmill Towns, 1911 - 1930
XI. Southwest Louisiana Sawmill
Towns, 1931 - 1950
XII. Louisiana Sawmills, 1937
XIII. Sawmill Plant, Fisher, Louisiana
XIV. Logging Trams, Vernon Parish
XV. Logging Trams, Allen Parish
XVI. Logging Trams serving Victoria and Fisher
XVII. House Type Distribution
XVIII. Base Map for House Type Distribution
XIX. Index Map, Southwest Louisiana
XX. Alco, Vernon Parish
XXI. Barham, Vernon Parish
XXII. Bon Ami, Beauregard Parish
XXXIII. Carson, Beauregard Parish
XXIV. Cravens, Vernon Parish
XXV. Elizabeth, Allen Parish
XXVI. Fisher, Sabine Parish
XXVII. Fullerton, Vernon Parish
XXVIII. Gandy, Sabine Parish
XXIX. Hawthorn, Vernon Parish
XXX. Kurthwood, Vernon Parish
XXXI. Longville, Beauregard Parish
XXXII. Ludington, Beauregard Parish
XXXIII. McNary, Rapides Parish
XXXIV. Peason, Sabine Parish
XXXV. Pickering, Vernon Parish
XXXVI. Slagle, Vernon Parish
XXXVII. Victoria, Natchitoches Parish
XXXVIII. Ward, Allen Parish
XXXIX. Woodworth, Rapides Parish
LIST OF COMPANY HOUSE FLOOR PLANS
1. Alco pyramidal
2. Carson bungalow
3. Elizabeth log-pen
4. Elizabeth pyramidal
5. Elizabeth log-pen
6. Fisher log-pen
7. Fisher log-pen
8. Fisher shotgun
9. Fullerton pyramidal
10. Gandy pyramidal
11. Kurthwood pyramidal
12. Longville pyramidal
13. Longville bungalow
14. Ludington pyramidal
15. McNary pyramidal
16. Peason pyramidal
17. Pickering log-pen
18. Slagle pyramidal
19. Slagle shotgun
20. Woodworth pyramidal
21. Woodworth shotgun
LIST OF PHOTOGRAPHS
1. Pure stand of longleaf
pine, Rapides Parish
2. Company houses at DeRidder
3. Company houses at Oakdale
4. Rod engine, Rapides Parish
5. Shay engine, Rapides Parish
6. Work car, Rapides Parish
7. Flat cars, Rapides Parish
8. Abandoned right-of-way,
9. Abandoned right-of-way,
10. Adaptation of pyramidal roof
11. Modification of pyramidal roof
12. Pyramidal roofs, Oakdale
13. Bungalows in Negro quarter, Leesville
14. Alco Company house
15. Alco company house
16. Alco post office
17. Alco mill pond
18. View of Alco site
19. View of Alco site
20. Barham site
21. Barham site
22. Bon Ami site
23. Bon Ami site
24. Bon Ami site
25. Bon Ami site
26. Carson company house
27. View of Carson site
28. Cravens site
29. Abandoned right-of-way at Cravens
30. Elizabeth business district
31. Elizabeth theater
32. Boarding house, Elizabeth
33. School, Elizabeth
34. Methodist Church, Elizabeth
35. Negro company house, Elizabeth
36. Company house, Elizabeth
37. Company house, Elizabeth
38. Fisher company office building
39. Fisher commissary
40. Fisher theater
41. Fisher Masonic lodge
42. Fisher boarding house
43. Fisher boarding house
44. Fisher church (white)
45. Fisher church (Negro)
46. Fisher company house
47. Fisher company house
48. Fisher company house
49. Fisher company house
50. Fisher school
51. Fisher mill, pond, and dam
52. Locomotive at Fisher mill
53. Fullerton company house
54. Fullerton business district
55. Fullerton commissary
56. Fullerton commissary
57. Gandy company house
58. Gandy company house
59. Gandy company house
60. Gandy company house
61. View of Hawthorn site
62. Kurthwood company house
63. Kurthwood company office building
64. Kurthwood machine shop
65. View of Kurthwood mill site
66. Longville company house
67. Longville company house
68. Longville bank
69. View of Longville site
70. Ludington company house
71. Ludington company house
72. View of Ludington mill site
73. View of Ludington pond and dam
74. McNary company house
75. McNary company house
76. McNary company official’s residence
77. View of McNary site
78. Peason company house
79. Peason church
80. Pickering company house
81. Pickering dam
82. Slagle company house
83. Slagle company house
84. View of Victoria site
85. View of Victoria site
86. Abandoned right-of-way near Ward
87. Woodworth company house
88. Woodworth company house
89. Woodworth church
90. Woodworth company vault
study is an inquiry into the nature, origin, and permanence
of cultural forms and patterns peculiar to lumbering in
southwest Louisiana. The area covered, one of major forest
districts of the state, was originally clothed in longleaf
pine. It extends from Many southward to Lake Charles, and
its eastern and western boundaries are set by the bottom
lands of the Calcasieu and Sabine rivers. Here, as elsewhere
in Louisiana, lumbering reached its peak in the early
twentieth century. This intensive phase is geographically
significant and merits close examination, since culture
traits associated with lumbering were then being introduced.
Field study of these forms and patterns included interviews
with former mill town residents and visits to active and
abandoned company town sites. Information gained by
interview was accurate and reliable, and the study could not
have been otherwise accomplished. Aerial photographs and
maps were examined, and a search made of the available
The lumber industry entered the region from two directions,
north and south. The extension of operations southward from
Shreveport was part of the general march of the mills from
the Lake States toward the Gulf then in progress. Lake
Charles had become a major milling center years before, and
was the base from which the industry pushed north. As
activities were extended along the new railroads, seven
landscape elements were carried into the district:
bungalows, pyramidal, shotgun, and log-pen houses, mill
ponds, logging trams, and the racial division of settlements
The migration of these elements occurred along varying
lines, and their degree of survival has not been uniform.
The bungalow, native to French south Louisiana, was carried
northward. It has grown in popularity and is universal in
its distribution in Louisiana. Pyramidal houses were brought
from the north and are now found in all parts of the state.
The shotgun house entered the region from both the north and
south. Already known in French south Louisiana, it had been
adopted by the industry in the north as well. Its popularity
is declining, as is that of houses derived from the log
cabins native to hill areas.
Mill ponds and logging trams now have almost no economic
value, due to changes in the nature of lumbering, and are
becoming more obscure. Residential areas in towns where
sawmills are still active are commonly divided into quarters
today. Company houses in such quarters characteristically
exhibit remarkable uniformity of construction.
Cultural changes wrought by lumbering are seen in rural
areas, but are of greatest significance in urban centers. No
other cultural invasion has matched the impact of that
industry. The complex of forms described dominates the
southwest Louisiana landscape, and indicates the
effectiveness of the industry as a culturo-geographic agent.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM AND METHODOLOGY
Statement of the Problem: The purpose of this study
was to investigate the lumber industry as it has progressed
generally in Louisiana, and in particular as it has appeared
in the longleaf pine district of southwest Louisiana during
the general period 1895-1935, and, through this
investigation, to learn what elements and patterns of a
cultural nature were introduced, or adopted, and diffused
through the area by the industry.
In more detailed terms the problem involved the following
1) the selection of an area for study;
2) the location of settlements within this area;
3) the study of these settlements;
4) the study of other elements and pattern associated with
5) the identification of persistent elements and patterns;
6) the written, photographic, and cartographic presentation
of these elements and patterns.
Importance of the Study: Nothing done by man has more
drastically altered the natural background or has closely
shaped the man-made setting of life in large areas of
Louisiana than the brief but vigorous activities of the
great lumber companies of the early twentieth century. In
many places there remain the original structures of the
period - houses, towns, and railroads - and people still use
them, people who, in some cases, knew the sawmill towns and
the virgin forests of the past. While these structures may
be seen, and while people live to tell of them, they should
be found, studied, and recorded.
It is felt that the completion of this study, covering one
of the major forest districts of Louisiana, will enhance the
store of geographic knowledge of the state and contribute
toward a more complete understanding of the contemporary
complex of cultural forms. Perhaps it will smooth the path
of those who may undertake studies of other parts of the
state where the work of the lumberman has been no less
Selection of an Area for Study: The area selected for
this study was the longleaf pine district of southwest
Louisiana as outlined by Brown. (1) His map indicates the
forest regions of Louisiana as they originally stood,
unchanged by man. As the accompanying maps indicate (Plates
I and II), the district chosen included essentially that
portion of Louisiana lying between Many, Sabine Parish, to
the north, and DeQuincy, Calcasieu Parish, to the south. The
western boundary was set by the bottom lands of the Sabine
River, while to the east longleaf pine extended roughly to
the line Natchitoches-Alexandria-Oberlin.
This study is an investigation of certain man-made elements
and patterns, and not an attempt to delineate any particular
area or region on a culture-geographic basis; hence the
chosen area provides good and distinct natural boundaries
for the study.
The district chosen was attractive to lumbermen. It is
large, embracing all or parts of nine parishes, and extends
across a range of climatic and geologic variation, but holds
within its bounds a constant element: the pine forests. All
settlements and other establishments fixed here by the
lumber industry had one function and objective: the
processing of longleaf pine.
Southwest Louisiana was thinly populated prior to the advent
of intensive lumbering. The industrial complex of towns and
railroads was thrust into largely virgin territory, and was
not absorbed by forms and patterns of earlier human
occupance. Also, since the conclusion of this phase of
industrial activity, there have occurred no major cultural
readjustments which might have obscured the contributions of
lumbering to the landscape.
Selection of Settlements: All the settlements chosen
for consideration in this study were, from the beginning,
sawmill towns. Wherever the lumbermen carried on their work
of exploitation they set up communities designed for the
accomplishment of that task alone. Sometimes they were
attached to the fringes of pre-existing settlements, but
often they consisted of entirely new urban assemblages.
Where the latter were built the area felt the full impact of
the cultural invasion. Here the forms related to the
industry can be observed as they were originally built,
under conditions minimizing the influence of previous human
Lumber camps, (2) smaller communities set up by the mill
operators, were not extensively investigated in this study.
These tiny settlements near the area of active logging were
occupied by woods crews and, occasionally, their families.
They were extensions of the parent towns.
The elements of size and population were not considered in
selecting settlements for study. All had the same basic
function, and in each there were certain fundamental forms.
With increasing size these forms became more complex, more
elaborate, and more numerous.
The only criterion called into service in settlement
selection was their origin: were they, or were they not,
established as sawmill towns?
Locating the Sawmill Towns: Although most sawmill
towns in the longleaf district of southwest Louisiana came
into being less than sixty years ago, their sites have
already become difficult to find. Some such towns were
probably not found, even after lengthy investigation.
Throughout this portion of the study the knowledge that the
lumbering and logging operations of the time were based
almost exclusively upon railroad facilities was of primary
significance. This being the case, an early and essential
step was the examination of maps showing the rail lines of
the area at different periods, particularly about 1920.
Some basic sections of the former railway net are still in
use. The Kansas City Southern, extending southward from Many
to Lake Charles, the Texas and Pacific southeast from
Mansfield to Alexandria, and the Missouri Pacific
southwestward from Alexandria to Lake Charles were all
essentially complete, though perhaps under different names,
before the period of intensive logging. They served as a
framework on which was built the complex transport net of
Aerial photographs were of great help in the preliminary
search, prior to the beginning of field work. The photos
revealed abundant evidence of sites formerly occupied by
company towns, such as street patterns, mill ponds, and
converging logging railways.
Most readily apparent were the mill ponds, usually
distinguishable by their size from the smaller ponds
provided for cattle. Field checks, however, indicated that
ponds afforded at best an incomplete picture of settlement
locations. Some sawmill plants did not include ponds, and
broken dams have led to the disappearance of others.
The size and shape of ponds could not always be employed as
sure criteria of their origin. Some are large, consisting of
stream waters impounded behind earthen dams. The Alco pond,
irregular in outline, had a width of some 150 yards and was
about 600 yards long. This pond contrasts sharply with the
small rectangular pond dug at Woodworth.
The only standard of judgment afforded by the ponds lay in
their relation to the railroads. The presence of large
artificial ponds in close proximity to rail lines was
generally indicative of former mill sites.
Logging trams and spurs appear in many aerial photographs,
and served as another guide to former mill town sites. At
ground level the old roadbeds are generally obscure, since
they were rather impermanent structures for the most part
and long in disuse. Frequently these lines were seen to
converge toward some central point, which often proved to be
an abandoned town site. Traces of former occupation not
noted earlier were sometimes revealed through close study of
areas of convergence.
Street plans constituted the best indicator of the nature of
an abandoned site. Wherever extensive street patterns were
noted the assumption was made that the settlement had been a
sawmill town. No other activity in the area has led to the
abandonment of sizeable population centers. Unfortunately,
street patterns were rarely seen, since sites were
frequently so overgrown as to be most indistinct.
United States Geological Survey quadrangles were of some
assistance in the initial search for mill sites. The map
sheets indicated mill ponds and trams, though incompletely.
A loss of sawmill towns in southwest Louisiana, some only
tentatively identified as such, was developed from the study
of air photos, maps, and available literature. This list,
used in conjunction with older maps of the area, made
possible the preparation of a map showing the mill town
Final identification of the mill locations was made by
questioning persons who had worked and lived in the company
settlements. Informants at Fisher, a mill town still active,
revealed the names of sawmill towns in considerable numbers,
confirming the identity of some already located and naming
others which had not be found.
Railway station agents proved to be particularly helpful
informants in this regard. Most are quite familiar with the
towns along the rail lines where they have been employed.
Periodicals and other literature in general proved to be of
very little assistance in locating the mill sites.
References to specific localities were scarce, and usually
failed to identify a settlement as one established by the
No method of search proved more effective than questioning
individuals who had had personal experience with the lumber
industry. Most of these people had lived in several sawmill
towns, moving from one to another as the fortunes of the
industry rose and fell. Field investigation completed and
made certain the location and identification of the sawmill
Settlement Study Methods: The acquisition of detailed
information concerning the sawmill towns in the area studied
involved work along several lines. All had the single aim of
creating a picture of each settlement as it appeared during
its usually short lifetime.
The elements making up the “picture” of each town included
descriptions of the establishments obtained from former
inhabitants or publications, maps of the settlements, and
photographs of the remaining evidences of habitation found
at the town sites. The information obtained from these
sources is presented in Appendix A.
This study would have been impossible without the wealth of
first-hand information contributed most willingly by the
many people interviewed. Other sources were rewarding, but
proved wholly inadequate in satisfying the requirements of a
For the most part informants were white males who had held
jobs in one or more of the towns studied. Numbers of them
filled positions of some responsibility, and their
recollections were detailed and clear. Other informants
included white women and Negroes of both sexes. All had
lived in company towns and shared a close association with
the lumber industry. They represented a good cross-section
of the mill workers and mill town residents, since they
included commissary clerks, steel-gang workers, locomotive
engineers, quarter-bosses, and others of similarly varied
experience in town and forest. In almost every case they
seemed to recall life in the sawmill towns with real
affection, and were more than willing to talk about a
subject which, to them, represented the “good old days.” In
fact, it was sometimes difficult to bring an interview to a
close. The writer was uniformly treated with courtesy, and
was often invited into homes where he had the privilege of
examining snapshots, maps, and other items which contributed
to his understanding and knowledge of the settlements and
It is felt that the bulk of the information gained by
interview is reliable. The fact that a date may have been
given incorrectly by a few years, that a name might have
been recalled imperfectly, is of little significance in a
study of this kind. Several informants were interviewed in
connection with each town, and their statements coincided
well. When circumstances permitted, the results of
interviews were checked against publications, a test which
served to enhance the reliability of the former.
Early in the course of this study a check sheet was
developed for use during interviews. After a number of
conversations with informants it was realized that the
amount of information being collected could not be trusted
to memory for even short periods. Conversations were often
lengthy, and when such detailed inquiries were made, at
least the essentials of the material gathered had to be
recorded at once. In all some forth specific items were
covered. The check sheets served the questioner in another
capacity: when answers were indicated in each blank on the
form, it was certain that at least the most essential topics
had been covered, and that the interview was in large
measure complete. A sample check sheet is shown at the end
of this chapter.
No objections to the use of check sheets during interviews
were experienced. Their necessity was explained to the
informants, and in most cases they seemed to prefer the
specific questions, especially at the beginning of the
interview. The sheets could be filled in with a minimum of
distracting movement, a plus sign serving to indicate an
affirmative answer, a zero a reply of negative character.
The informants, as the interview progressed, were encouraged
to assume the conversational lead, which they usually did
A portion of the check sheet was reserved, under the heading
“Remarks,” for notes of special interest. With the
informant’s aid sketch maps were drawn on the reverse side
of the sheets. Later these were compared with air photos and
quadrangles, and brought into more correct proportion and
Maps and aerial photographs served primarily as sources of
information supplementary to the interviews. Informants were
sometimes able, with these visual aids, to point out such
things as street plans, specific building sites, and
sections occupied by the various racial groups. Such
information was often recorded directly on the map or photo.
Maps and air photos were also valuable in providing accurate
cartographic basis on which maps of the settlements were
The writer visited each sawmill town site at least twice.
Abundant evidence of former settlement was often found,
houses, mill foundations, ponds, dams, and other indications
of the location and general nature of the community. Fisher
and Elizabeth are still in existence, and visits to these
active company towns were rewarding.
Knowledge derived from local newspapers, parish histories,
and similar sources was negligible compared to that obtained
by interview, and was chiefly of value in the preparation of
the general history of lumbering in Louisiana which appears
in Chapter III.
SAMPLE CHECK SHEET
House Types: (white)
Forms present (plus for yes,
zero for no)
boarding house (w)
Map on back
THE SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA LONGLEAF PINE DISTRICT
That portion of southwest Louisiana originally clothed in
longleaf pine presented in its virgin state a view of
natural wealth and bounty at least equal to, and in many
ways surpassing, anything the lumbermen had seen up to that
time. The general physical attributes of that portion of the
state, and the qualities of longleaf pine make these
Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), often called “yellow
pine,” has been described as the most important timber tree
of southern United States. (1) Its unique combination of
properties has made it highly useful to man, and has led to
the removal of the southern stands.
This tree grows slowly, gaining perhaps one-quarter inch in
diameter yearly, and requiring 250-300 years for the
development of a trunk diameter of thirty inches. (2)
Wahlenburg states that in the Calcasieu region of Louisiana,
and as far north as Vernon and Rapides parishes, old-growth
trees averaged about 110 feet in height and twenty inches in
diameter. (3) Most of the better logs were cut from trees
ranging in age from 150 to 200 years. This land west of the
Mississippi was said to have the best timber. (4)
The wood is suited for many uses. It is attractive, and
heavy, hard, durable, and strong, and not subject to warping
or checking. In old-growth trees from one-half to two-thirds
of the trunk are free of limbs, or “clear.” These various
qualities make the wood useful for such dissimilar purposes
as bridge timbers, ship and railroad-car construction,
furniture, siding, and interior house finishing.
Another property of the tree, resulting literally in its
downfall, was the nature of the original stands. The
longleaf forests were remarkable for their clean, open
appearance, almost entirely free of undergrowth. Photographs
of virgin longleaf stands indicate that they had the
character of well-kept parks (see Figure 1). Forbes mentions
that old settlers recounted how buggies could be driven
through the woods without difficulty. (5)
Longleaf stands were notably pure, usually eighty percent or
more. A stand is considered “pure” if seventy-five percent
of the trees in it are of one species. (6) Old-growth pine
stands averaged twelve to thirty thousand board feet of
lumber per acre over whole townships. (7) Along drainage
lines longleaf gave way to narrow strips of other species of
pine or hardwoods, usually less than two miles wide. The
transition zone from longleaf to other timber types was
characteristically very narrow, generally not more than a
mile in width. (8) This purity of stand was largely the
result of the frequent fires which swept the area, fires set
by nature, and more often by man. Fires were small, their
frequency precluding the accumulation of forest litter.
Crown fires were almost unknown. (9)
Longleaf seedlings are unusually fire resistant, while other
species are easily killed. Fires in protected forests are
much more damaging to young trees. At Urania a second-growth
area containing black jack oak, loblolly, slash, and some
longleaf was deliberately burned after a winter rain.
Practically all growth was killed, except longleaf
seedlings, and this again became the dominant species. (10)
Other experiments have indicated the effects of fire on
mixed forests, and have even shown that longleaf seedlings
will grow more rapidly in burned areas, where plant diseases
are less active. (11)
According to Wahlenburg: “In the natural succession of
forest types longleaf pine forms a subclimax maintained
through frequent burning of the forest floor. Fire furnishes
the primary control of distribution of longleaf pine under
natural conditions, but its action is largely felt through
effects on competing species. (12)
To other desirable qualities this longleaf district joined
the advantage of great size. Its boundaries might roughly be
represented by the area enclosed within a line drawn from
Many southeastward almost to Alexandria, south and west to
Oberlin and Lake Charles, west to Vinton, and finally north
again to Many. Its dimensions are about ninety miles from
north to south, with a maximum width of some sixty-five
Geological conditions here favor the growth of longleaf
pine, and facilitate logging activities. Bands of
sedimentary rock outcrop in the area, striking generally
northeast and dipping gently southward. In the north, around
Fisher, small portions of the Jackson and Claiborne groups
(Eocene) supported longleaf forests, but the greater forest
areas lay southward on successively younger sediments.
Penfound notes that: “In general, the Eocene was originally
characterized by shortleaf pine, whereas the Oligocene and
Miocene were clothed with longleaf pine. The Pleistocene
included longleaf pine, hardwoods, and prairie communities.
The Recent deposits included neither pine forest nor prairie
communities, however.” (13)
According to Brown: “The region was studied in connection
with Fisk’s geological map (1938) and a strong correlation
was found between the geology and the vegetation. The
longleaf pine was on the terrace deposits and absent from
the Vicksburg formation …” (14)
Most of this area was well-drained and sandy, conditions
which favored the growth of longleaf while adversely
affecting competing species. Soil moisture is second only to
fire as far as the distribution of longleaf pine is
Southwest Louisiana presented no topographic breaks which
might have constituted real obstacles to logging. The
highest ground occurs in southeastern Sabine and northern
Vernon parishes, where elevations exceed 450 feet in some
places. From these Tertiary hills elevations decrease
southward, the 25-foot contour line roughly marking the
southern limit of longleaf. In almost all portions the
district presents the appearance of low, gently rolling
hills. According to Hartman: “This region represents the
easiest logging of any in the United States or Canada.” (15)
Most of the section is drained by the Calcasieu with its
many tributaries joining it from the north and west. The
rail line from Leesville to DeQuincy fairly well marks the
drainage divide, the area west of the line generally
draining into the Sabine River. Many of the streams are
intermittent, and most are easily bridged.
Climate plays no great part in determining the distribution
of longleaf pine. (16) The tree is found in regions where
mean annual temperatures range from 63 degrees to 73
degrees. (17) More important is rainfall, the tree requiring
heavy summer rains to offset moisture losses by evaporation
from sandy soils and transpiration during the long growing
Such a climate placed no restrictions on logging. There was
no cold season severe enough to stop operations, and if
heavy rains halted work in one place, it could be
temporarily resumed in a better-drained area.
In describing the conditions which attracted the lumber
industry to Louisiana, mention should be made of the two
other large longleaf pine districts then present in the
state. One lay in north Louisiana, centering in Winn,
Caldwell, and LaSalle parishes, the other in the Florida
parishes of eastern Louisiana.
The lumberman has not been the only foe of longleaf pine.
Insects, fungi, and razorback hogs have done great damage.
Some land was cleared for farms; some was cut by the early
saw millers and by farmers who sold logs to eke out a poor
crop. In the south forests were damaged by hurricanes.
Forbes mentions “harrican” timber, (18) and extensive stands
near Merryville were blown down in 1918. (19)
However, the longleaf district primarily fell victim to
large-scale sawmilling. Physical conditions prevalent in the
region and the highly desirable qualities of longleaf pine
are the reasons why such a vast forest was consumed in so
short a time, and indirectly suggest how overwhelming must
have been the invasion of the mills.
HISTORY OF LUMBERING IN LOUISIANA
The lumber industry in Louisiana has progressed through
several stages, the occurrence and duration of each
depending upon factors which have influenced the activities
One such factor was the demand for southern timber. Southern
forest resources remained comparatively untouched until
forests in the north were exhausted. Before 1880, for the
most part, southern forest tracts had been required to fill
only local demands. Relatively small quantities of lumber
had been shipped outside the region. However, when the
forests of the northern states were gone, emphasis shifted
southward, and lumbering here entered its most spectacular
and destructive phase.
The availability of timber was another factor influential in
the progress of lumbering in Louisiana. As long as large
tracts of timber remained, the big mills could be supplied
in quantity sufficient to keep them operating at top
capacity. The mills had to run continuously, or they lost
Still a third factor affected lumbering: transportation. For
generations practically all timber moved in Louisiana had
gone down the waterways of the state. The method was
slow, but the requirements of the time were satisfied.
Only the railroads could move logs fast enough over
considerable distances to supply the mills, or carry away
the tremendous volume of lumber they produced. In the space
of a few years railroads had been built through the great
When the forests were so depleted that the large mills were
obsolete, the motor truck became the mainstay of Louisiana
lumbering as it is today. Small mills could operate on the
sparse timber lift, supplied by the mobile and inexpensive
Thus lumbering in Louisiana has experienced three major
stages or phases: an early phase, during which demand was
small and logging operations were largely confined to areas
along streams; a middle phase, the era of intensive logging,
when the railroad became the prime mover; and a final stage,
the present, dominated by the small portable mill and its
servant, the motor truck.
Early Phase: During the initial period of forest
exploitation in Louisiana, lumbering, as an industry, was
restricted to lands adjacent to waterways. No other means of
moving logs in quantity existed.
Mills of the time were small, and at first lumber was
produced by whipsawing, often with slave labor. (1) Such
mills were scattered widely along the Mississippi and other
streams in Louisiana. As early as 1803, however, a
steam-powered mill was reportedly built in New Orleans, only
to be burned by men who feared that the new machinery would
throw them out of work as sawyers. (2)
As settlements were pushed up the principal water-ways of
the state, the number of sawmills grew. In their excellent
history of Northeast Louisiana the Williamsons mention the
establishment of a sawmill near the present northern portion
of Monroe about 1795. (3) By 1810, according to the census
of that year, there was forty-three sawmills operating in
Louisiana. By 1840 this number grew to 139. (4)
One of these early mills was operated on Bayou Boeuf near
Alexandria by the Bowie brothers, John, Rezin, and James, in
1815. Oak, ash, and cypress were cut and sent down to Baton
Rouge via the Boeuf, Red and Mississippi. (5) Douglas also
mentions the presence of sawmills along the streams around
Opelousas in 1802.
A steam sawmill was cutting pine and cypress at Point
Pleasant in Morehouse Parish in 1840, (6) and in 1868
Captain Billy Robinson built a mill at Shreveport. Timber
cut in the fall was rafted down to this mill on the Red
River’s spring rises. (7)
In supplying the mills of these early years rafting
operations were conducted on a large scale, and the method
was applied to the finished products of the mills as well as
logs. In the 1880’s eleven million wooden pipe staves were
floated down the Ouachita from Columbia in a single tow. (8)
Although pine had been floated down to New Orleans as early
as 1850, 1880 is generally regarded as the big year of
rafting in southeastern Louisiana. In that year logs cut in
eastern Louisiana were towed across Lake Pontchartrain and
through the canals to New Orleans mills. Logs were also
rafted out of the Red, Little, Black, and other tributaries
to the Mississippi. (9)
The streams of southwestern Louisiana served as timber roads
feeding some of the first large mills of the state and
probably eclipsed other streams in this respect. Around Lake
Charles water transport of logs was an old story when mills
farther inland were just getting into production.
Logs moved down the streams of southwest Louisiana were of
both cypress and longleaf pine. Cypress was cut during the
fall and early winter, when the bottom lands were usually
dry. The limbs were removed when the timber was cut, and by
the time the spring rises came the logs were fairly dry. At
the time of cutting roads were cleared through the swamp
growth. When the water rose in the spring the logs floated,
and were led through the roads to the main stream channels.
In other cases, where timber was some distance from the
stream, logs were cut and hauled by oxen to a place along
the bank where they might be easily rolled off the wagons
directly into the channel. These unloading points were
called “dumps,” and numbers of them were used continuously
Spring was the active season of log transport along the
southwestern streams. The Calcasieu could be counted on for
at least one freshet a year, usually in June, and in 1885 a
single rise in that river carried between forty and fifty
thousand logs southward. So many logs went downstream that
many could not be stopped, even though several booms were
put across the river. Large numbers of logs went all the way
to the Gulf. (10)
The Sabine carried logs southward from Bayou Anacoco to
Orange. (11) Old settlers tell of seeing rafts on the Sabine
made up entirely of longleaf pine, and up to one and
one-half miles long. These were narrow rafts, consisting of
several logs bunched together in a small group, with other
log groups attached to the rear, forming a chain rather than
a solid raft or mass of logs. Some large logs would not
float, and were spiked to cross-pieces laid across two
floaters, like yokes. Logs went down the Sabine to mills at
Deweyville, Orange and other places along the river’s lower
For the most part river boats were used to move logs for
only short distances in southwest Louisiana. A few were
operated on the lower Sabine, and others towed logs from the
Calcasieu bays across Lake Charles to mills around the lake.
Toward the end of the century lumber production in Louisiana
was beginning to grow, although the peak out-put was to be
attained only after the railroads came. Some of the first
big mills were supplied by water. In 1892 one of the Krause
and Managan Lumber Company mills on the lower Calcasieu cut
148,000 board feet of lumber in eleven hours. (12)
The map (Plate III) illustrates, in part, the routes along
which logs were rafted in Louisiana. The writer made no
effort to cover this subject in its entirety.
At times the waterways of Louisiana harbored some of the
more unscrupulous lumbermen active in the South. By 1860
timber stealing on government land was common inland from
Atchafalaya Bay and along the Calcasieu and Pearl rivers.
Floating sawmills, frequently moved and easily hidden, were
operated on the fringes of the forests. On one occasion a
Federal Agent seized 100,000 illegally cut logs on Lake
Charles. These had been cut by Henry J. Lutcher for the West
Indies trade. Before the question of ownership of the logs
had been decided in favor of the United States the agent was
forced to call for a revenue cutter to patrol the lake and
for regular troops to guard the logs. (13)
Timber speculators were among the first to recognize the
impending shift of lumbering to the southern states. By 1870
two thirds of Louisiana timber was in the hands of some
sixteen organizations. Nathan Bradley of Michigan bought
111,000 acres of land in Louisiana. C. F. Hackley of the
same state bought 90,000 acres in the Calcasieu Basin. Henry
Lutcher and G. B. Moore bought one and one-half million
acres in Louisiana and Texas. (14) A British concern, the
North American Land and Timber Company, bought 960,000 acres
in southwest Louisiana, helped introduce the first railroad
to the area, and brought in settlers from the Midwest. (15)
In spite of the increasing demands of the settlers - 26,500
rails were needed to fence one section of land (16) - the
frequent and often deliberately set forest fires, and the
ravages of the early lumbermen, the forests of western
Louisiana stood almost untouched in 1880. In 1897 the
longleaf pines there covered more than two and one-half
million acres, although mills around Lake Charles had cut as
much as 150 million board feet of lumber in a single year as
early as 1892. (17)
In his report of 1884 Sargent observed:
“The country between the Mississippi River and the Rocky
Mountains, now largely supplied with lumber from
Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, must for building
materials soon depend upon the more remote pine forests of
the Gulf region or those of the Pacific coast. A great
development in the now unimportant lumber-manufacturing
interests in these regions may therefore be expected.
The most valuable forests of the state are still almost
intact … Pine has also been cut along the Sabine River, from
both forks of the Calcasieu, along the Red River in the
neighborhood of Alexandria and Shreveport ...” (18)
The census of 1880 ranked Michigan first in lumber
production, with 1,649 forest-product establishments,
Missouri tenth with 881, Arkansas twenty-ninth with 319. In
that year Louisiana had 175 such establishments, employing
an average of less than six persons each. (19)
Of special interest in Sargent’s report is his map, (20)
reproduced on page 34 of this study, which outlines the then
extant pine lands of Louisiana and the areas in which
cutting had been extensive. When thus portrayed
cartographically, the relationship between the early phase
of lumbering and the waterways of Louisiana is quite
apparent (Plate IV).
Middle Phase: For decades the growing population of the
United States had made increasingly heavy demands on the
northern forest areas, from the New England coast westward
to the Lake States. When the exhaustion of northern pineries
became imminent, the industry moved southward. This shift of
emphasis ushered in the middle phase of lumbering in
The newcomers to the southern forests found vast stores of
timber awaiting them. In Louisiana the original forest
reportedly totaled some twenty-two million acres. (22)
The lumber industry accomplished its southward shift in a
remarkably short time. In 1892, when Michigan held top rank
in lumber production, Louisiana forests were already feeling
the axe, and the all-time high of southern lumber production
was reached only fifteen years later. (23)
Railroad expansion was essential to forest exploitation. The
logging railroads opened up hitherto remote areas, and
became "...a particularly potent foree (sic) (foray?) in the
development of the pine forests of the south." (24)
Some of the big mills could demolish the virgin timber of an
entire section of land in less than two weeks, and Louisiana
railroad mileage grew accordingly. These new roads were
essential not only in supplying logs to the mills, but in
carrying away their enormous output. By 1904 more than two
thousand miles of logging railroads had been built into the
southern pineries. (25) Fortier mentions that about 1905
Louisiana had three thousand miles of railroad and 322 miles
of logging trams. (26) Most of the track was temporary, but
some became part of the permanent rail system. (27)
The expansion of the railroad net in Louisiana and its
correlation in time with the period of intensive logging is
revealed in the series of maps which appears in the following
pages (Plates V, VI, VII, and VIII).
The lumbermen found themselves in a most fortunate
situation. Apparently limitless forests of some of the
world’s finest timber were at hand, and the demand for
forest products was tremendous. The forests themselves were
a logger’s dream - clear and open - promising the cheapest and
most rapid of logging operations. Weather rarely impeded
cutting, (28) and the flow of logs from forest to mill was
limited only by the capacity of men and machines.
The price of standing timber, even in the peak years,
remained low. Stumpage prices of longleaf went from ten
cents a thousand board feet in 1880 to ten dollars a
thousand in 1923. (29) After the Missouri Pacific extended
its line from Alexandria to Columbia, longleaf in Caldwell
Parish sold for less than $3.50 an acre. (30) For the most
part landholders were willing to sell. Cutting the pine
represented a chance to make money on land that had
previously been unproductive.
Labor presented no real problem to the mill operators. Many
of the skilled workers and supervisory personnel came south
with their employers, but the majority of workers were
recruited from among the local inhabitants, both white and
Negro. Some Swedes were brought in from the Lake States to
work in the lumber camps of Texas and western Louisiana.
(31) In a number of instances Mexican laborers were hired,
but their presence in the industry was of short duration.
Negroes did most of the woods work in central Louisiana, and
in north Louisiana much of the common labor was done by
white men. (32) For poor hill farmers the choice between the
precarious existence of a small farm and a cash wage of
$1.50 for an eleven-hour day was not a difficult one. A man
could nearly always get a job during the peak years of
Louisiana lumbering. If he was fired in the morning he could
walk down the track to the next mill and be at work again
In some instances the mill workers and loggers were not the
most desirable elements of the population. Cottingham (33)
describes those he knew as the “riff-raff of creation,” and
relates that they sometimes took over passenger trains
between Alexandria and Columbia. For the most part the men
seem to have been superior to this opinion, and as a rule
the lumber companies did all they could to promote orderly
conduct. Unemployed men were encouraged to “move on,” this
policy being applied with special vigor in the case of
Occasionally the sawmill towns were rather crude, but the
settlements were not “shanty-towns.” (34) The lumber
companies made definite attempts to advance their good
reputation and make them attractive. In many cases the
facilities and conveniences enjoyed by the inhabitants were
superior to anything seen in the older native communities.
Schools, medical care, the privilege of buying at the
company commissary, electric lights and running water, and
other advantages made life rather pleasant.
Good wages and attractive living conditions drew men to the
sawmills until in 1909 lumbering in Louisiana was second
only to the manufacture of sugar and molasses as an
industry. According to the census of 1910 the former
employed in this state 46,072 people, with an annual
production valued at $62,838,000.
Lake Charles became the first great center of logging and
lumber production in Louisiana. Sargent states in his 1884
“… principal point of lumber manufacturing is Saint (sic)
Charles, in Calcasieu Parish, on the southern border of the
western pine forest. Lumber manufactured here is shipped
east and west by rail, and in small schooners to Mexican and
West Indian ports.”(35)
The Perkins and Miller Lumber Company came into existence in
1873, and in 1932 was still operating as the Krause and
Managan Lumber Company, Limited. Mills cut at Westlake from
1882 until 1920. In spite of their dependence upon water
transport, these mills were large-scale operations, and
steam skidders were in use as early as 1898. (36)
Operations farther from waterways waited for the railroads.
When the Kansas City Southern began extending its line
southward from Shreveport, new lands were opened to the
logger. Earlier, the Texas and Pacific traversed the
longleaf district of western Louisiana, and a mill began
operating at Victoria in 1882. (37) However, the boom was
delayed until the Kansas City Southern was completed
southward in 1897. This provided a north-south axis from
which lines could be extended east and west. Soon a series
of lateral lines linked the K. C. S. with north-south lines
Bolinger, two and one-half miles south of Plain Dealing, was
formerly Martin Switch, site of the Martin Lumber Company
mills, cutting ten to twelve million board feet yearly.
Frost Lumber Industries, Inc., had mills at Trout and Spring
Hill. Other companies had mills at Allentown and at Zwolle,
the latter built in 1896. (38) The Fisher mill has run
continuously since 1899, (39) and was the first large plant in Sabine Parish. (40)
Elsewhere the story was much the same. Before 1900 a mill
was in operation at Ruddock, St. John the Baptist Parish,
and from Garyville more than 87,000 car-loads of lumber were
shipped out between 1903 and 1931.
The latter mill cut one hundred thousand board feet daily,
and between 1915 and 1922 had payrolls averaging $1,062,000
annually. (41) Land around Dry Prong, Grant Parish, was
being logged in 1916, (42) and at Urania in 1910. (43)
Thirty-eight thousand acres of timber were cut near
Merryville, northwestern Beauregard Parish, between 1910
and 1921, steam skidders being brought in to remove fallen
trees more rapidly following the hurricane of 1918. (44)
Calcasieu Parish mills had largely “cut out”
- halted work due
to timber depletion - by 1925, (45) but farther north the end
came some years later. Vernon Parish reached its peak of
production in 1920, with eleven big mills in operation, some
of which ran night and day for years. In a twenty-year span
the assessed value of Vernon Parish timber dropped from
forty to six million dollars. By 1938 seventy percent of the
parish had been clear-cut, or stripped of its timber, and
natural forest regeneration had been largely ruined by the
steam skidders, which destroyed uncut trees. (46) Under the
widely held “cut out and get out” policy the intensive phase
of Louisiana lumbering could not last long. Southern pine
production declined steadily after 1916, and the industry
shifted it center of activity to the west coast. (47)
The rapidity with which big-time limbering had entered
Louisiana was matched by the speed of its departure. The
logging railroads were taken up, the mills dismantled, and
the towns deserted. Along one railroad line in western
Louisiana twenty-three sawmills, each cutting more than
100,000 board feet of lumber a day, went out of existence in
five years. (48) Southwest Louisiana was left with the largest
tract of clear-cut land west of the Mississippi: one million
acres. (49) The big mills needed a continuous flow of logs
for profitable operation, and only smaller mills could
subsist on the restricted forest areas that remained. (50)
The decline in lumbering was attended by shifts of
population. Between 1920 and 1930 Allen, Beauregard, and
Vernon Parishes lost almost ten thousand people, while in
the same decade Calcasieu gained almost nine thousand. (51)
In Vernon and Beauregard, sixteen large mills, each with
towns of at least one thousand, had cut out and were
abandoned by 1933. (52) A few of the larger mills continued
to operate, as at Fisher, Zimmerman, and Longleaf. Others
turned to another product, as at Elizabeth, but most of them
have disappeared. The recent closing of the large Louisiana
Central Lumber Company mill at Clarks, Caldwell Parish,
indicates the general trend of the large mill toward
decline. (53) This mill reportedly manufactured over a
billion board feet of lumber during its fifty years of
operation. Until recently the company employed some 600 men
The series of maps on the pages immediately following show
the transitory nature of the sawmill towns of western
Louisiana, and illustrate how rapidly this phase of forest
exploitation has passed. The towns shown are those selected
for this study (Plates IX, X, XI).
Last Phase: The virtual exhaustion of the virgin forests of
the South did not herald the extinction of the lumber
industry, as some had anticipated. Recent years have
witnessed the emergence of the small portable sawmill as
the major producer of lumber. These “peckerwood” mills operate
profitably since the scattered forest remnants can be
reached by road and highway, and can provide the small
volume of logs required by each mill.
The small sawmill is not a newcomer to the industrial scene.
Mills of low capacity have long been active in this country.
Of some 50,000 sawmills operating in the United States in
1909, seventy-five percent cut less than a million board
The significant change in lumbering in recent years has been
in the growing volume of lumber produced by lesser plants
relative to the output of the large mills.
The increasing importance of small sawmills as lumber
producers was noted by Boisfontaine in 1934. (54) He
observed that as early as 1929 more than half our total pine
production was cut by small mills. At that time the average
portable mill employed three or four men and ran about
seventy-five days a year. Occasionally it became cheaper to
move the mill to the timber, especially if the move insured
a timber supply sufficient for a six-month's run.
In 1934 there were approximately 8,000 sawmills operating in
Louisiana, southern Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia,
Florida, east Texas, southwest Oklahoma, southern South
Carolina, southeast Missouri, and western Tennessee. Of the
pine mills in this group, ninety-two percent had a capacity
of less than 20,000 board feet of lumber daily. (55) Many of
the larger mills of a decade or two earlier could have
produced ten times that volume.
Louisiana had 557 sawmills in 1937, but only ten percent of
them had a daily capacity of more than 40,000 board feet. It
should be noted that these small mills combined to produce,
in that same year, no less than sixty-eight percent of
Louisiana’s lumber. (56) Cruikshank reported 95 sawmills
active in southwest Louisiana in 1937, 72 of them turning
out less than 40,000 board feet daily. (57)
The accompanying map of Louisiana pine and hardwood mill
locations (Plate XII) clearly shows the numerical
superiority of the small sawmill. Of 496 mills listed by the
Louisiana Forestry Commission as active in the state in
1946, only sixty-nine cut more than five million board feet
yearly. The Fullerton plant turned out that amount in less
than a month.
Today the team of motor truck and portable sawmill has
become the hallmark of lumbering in Louisiana, and in this
present phase of operations the remaining large mills have
also come to rely heavily upon the truck.
Of the three stages through which lumbering has progressed
in Louisiana, the second is held to be of special geographic
significance. In an interval of a few decades men destroyed
or damaged the forests of the state, and in so doing altered
their natural environment to a marked degree. In the process
of exploitation the lumberman planted elements and patterns
of a cultural nature. Some have persisted, even though the
combination of human and natural circumstances which brought
them into being or otherwise led to their importation no
SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA LUMBERING ESTABLISHMENTS
The Sawmill Towns: The sawmill towns of southwest Louisiana
left ample evidence of their former existence in the
surviving complex of culturo-geographic traits.
The towns were built to produce lumber, and in the selection
of mill locations only considerations pertinent to lumber
production in volume prevailed. Sites were generally well
within the longleaf district. Settlements in marginal areas
were sometime forced to turn to other forests, utilizing
other pines of hardwoods.
All the towns studied were situated on rail lines. Large
mills called for logs in great numbers, and for a flow of
timber not subject to seasonal fluctuation. Towns were most
numerous along the main railroad lines, but numbers were
built in the heart of the longleaf district, linked to the
main lines by spurs.
Other factors influenced site selections to a comparatively
minor degree. Water supply for mill and town is a case in
point. Supplies were usually adequate, since streams capable
of filling ponds were numerous, and a dependable water
source was not too difficult to locate in most instances.
Where surface waters proved inadequate, deep wells were
Almost every function performed in association with the town
directly or indirectly has some part to play in supplying
the mill with logs and converting those logs into lumber.
Here were concentrated all the facilities, human and
mechanical, for forest exploitation: large and efficient
mills of high capacity, highly skilled administrators and
technician, and a large semi-skilled and unskilled labor
The professional people of the town were charged with the
task of keeping the labor force healthy, secure, and
reasonably content. Doctors, ministers, barbers, clerks were
all at hand to serve the men who served the mills. The
lumber company responsible for the presence of all these
people automatically assumed the direction of many of their
affairs. Babies were born in company hospitals, housewives
bought their groceries at a company store, and families
lived in houses built and owned by the company. Few towns
ever existed in Louisiana with a greater singleness of
function than those devoted to lumbering.
Unity of function contributed to the development of a
settlement possessing a high degree of self-containment and
cohesiveness, but also was directly responsible for its
virtual extinction. When the town destroyed the timber
nothing remained to justify the settlement’s continued
existence. Older settlements could discharge functions beyond
the range of the lumber industry, and even absorbed that of
the sawmill towns to a great degree, acquiring sawmills as
appendages to their older bodies.
No single sawmill town could be said to exactly resemble
another, yet they did possess a number of traits in common
which set them apart. A visitor to one sawmill town would
later be able to identify another, even though there might
be strong dissimilarities. Detailed descriptions of the
towns investigated during the preparation of this report
appear in Appendix A.
The sawmill towns were organized along purely functional
lines. They were divided into sharply defined sections, each
having a specific task to perform relative to the
functioning of the entire settlement. Individual sections
were separated, set apart by some group of structures or
The mills themselves dominated the cultural landscape,
including as they did the tallest and largest buildings in
the pineries of southwest Louisiana. Not only were they
visually impressive, but audibly as well. The sounds of the
mill reached every part of the town, and lives were
regulated by the mill whistles.
The principal component of the mill plant was the pine mill,
along with the planer mill. In their immediate vicinity
were the dry kilns, lumber yard, and machine shop. The
latter was, in its older form, a blacksmith shop, but as the
mills grew and transport systems developed the small shops
became large establishments capable of making major repairs
to mill equipment and railroad rolling stock. Standpipes and
generators at the mill furnished water and electricity to
the entire settlement.
Mill ponds were almost universally built at the mill. They
served as storage areas where reserves of logs could be
accumulated against periods of bad weather or any event
which might slow the progress of loggers at the front. Mill
ponds also cleaned the logs of dirt and gravel which might
injure the saws, and logs stored there were easily handled
and brought into the mill. Where water supplies were
deficient, reserve ponds were dug, and water stored there
was transferred to the main ponds as required. Most ponds
were made by damming creeks, but
others were entirely artificial.
at the mill was usually moved on "dollies," heavy
two-wheeled carts drawn by mules. "Dolly-run" mules were
housed in barns near the mill, the area around the barn
being enclosed by a high board fence and called a "corral."
Mules used at the front were kept in corrals and barns built
for them there. In some instances dolly-run mules were
replaced by battery-powered electric tractors, or by
shortened Ford trucks. The accompanying map ( Plate XIII)
illustrates a typical sawmill plant.
In each sawmill town there was a section devoted to
providing the more essential goods and services. Some
conveniences and necessities were occasionally furnished by
nearby settlements, but for the most part the mill town took
care of its own.
The commissary was the commercial heart of the community.
This was a department store owned and run by the company,
and there the mill employees and their families bought the
bulk of the everyday items they consumed. Such stores were
ordinarily superior to any thing seen in other small
communities, since they were so large and well stocked.
Without leaving the building one might buy a pound of bacon,
a box of shotgun shells, a gallon of kerosene, a rocking
chair, and a pair of overalls. In many cases the commissary
building housed other facilities as well. It was not
uncommon for the barber, the doctor, the deputy, and others
to occupy office space under the same roof.
Almost everything sold in the commissaries was brought in by
rail, including foodstuffs. Local farms made practically no
contribution to the economy of the town.
Also bridging the gap between mill and town were the company
offices. These were ordinarily situated in a frame structure
near the commissary. As a rule the office building was
large, perhaps two stories high. In it were housed most
administrative operations relative to company business
activities. The building frequently served as a bank, often
having a large brick and steel vault. A few of the larger
towns had branch banks for older communities.
Boarding houses were also prominent in the town’s commercial
districts. Large frame structures, these houses were almost
invariably two stories high, or even three. Sometimes the
more pretentious were dignified with the appellation “hotel”
but their conformation to general type rarely varied.
Boarding houses were not only sleeping quarters but
dining places as well. Cafes restaurants were quite common.
Some towns had halls where motion pictures were shown
several times a week. Often the theater was housed in a
separate wooden building, but in other instances the
pictures were shown in other structures.
Almost all settlements had a small post office and barber
shop. The company doctor had a downtown office, which served
the town as a drug dispensary. A depot and ice house complete
the general picture of the commercial district, the latter a
small structure from which ice, brought in by train, was
Though the foregoing may present an apparently drab
conception of a sawmill town business district, it is more
attractive when compared to that of the typical small
settlement of those days. Certainly the mill town residents
felt that the facilities available to them were superior to
those of many older communities.
White residential districts were almost invariably located
near the commercial sections and relatively isolated from
the mills and Negro quarters. In general they included
dwellings, churches, and schools. They were laid out on a
regular, grid-like plan, with widely spaced houses. Yards
were large, and outbuildings numerous.
Lumber companies usually endeavored to make these areas
attractive. Trees were planted, streets were graded, and
electric lights were installed. Water was usually piped from
the mill, though this might not include bath-room
facilities. Baths were usually installed at the resident’s
expense. Sometimes water came from wells dug at each house,
or perhaps shared by several families.
White residences were remarkably uniform in construction and
appearance. Most common was the pyramidal house, and to a
lesser degree the bungalow. Houses with pyramidal roofs,
that is, sloping upward at the same angle from all four
sides toward a central point, are universal in their
distribution in Louisiana, and are found with many
variations. The sawmill variety is distinguished by its
rather small size, square floor plan, and single story.
Compared to many houses with approximately pyramidal roofs,
the company house was stark in its simplicity. Bungalows
were single-story houses; with gables facing front and rear,
and usually two rooms wide and two or three rooms deep.
Possibly of more significance than house type as a
distinguishing trait of the sawmill town was the remarkable
degree of uniformity in house construction. This practice in
company housing is frequently seen in towns which existed
prior to the advent of lumbering’s second phase. On the
following page photographs of company houses at DeRidder and
Oakdale illustrate this uniformity (Figures 2 and 3).
Pyramidal and bungalow types of construction were adapted to
many buildings other than dwellings. The former was
especially popular in boarding houses, schools, and other
large structures. More complete descriptions of company
houses appear in Appendix A.
Aside from dwellings and their outbuildings, few elements of
the human landscape were to be seen in white residential
areas. Only the schools for white children and the churches
were prominent. The former was a wooden building, one or two
stories high, with classes rarely beyond the seventh grade.
Older children often commuted to high schools in nearby
As a rule only one church was built for the white residents
of the sawmill town. Joint services were held at these
"Union" or "Federated" churches. Occasionally the various
denominations held services at different hours of the day.
Few cemeteries were opened by whites in these towns, since
most seem to have been aware that the settlements were not
permanent. Interments were generally made at cemeteries in
older nearby communities, and occasionally at the hometown
of the deceased, even though this might be in another
state. Cemeteries were usually in the vicinity of the
Negro residential areas were usually close to the mills,
somewhat removed from the commercial districts and quarters
occupied by whites. Yards were small, houses usually closely
spaced, and streets not as carefully laid out and maintained
as in other parts of the town.
House types in the typical Negro quarter
varied extensively. Often pyramidal, bungalow, log-pen, and
shotgun houses were all represented. The term “log-pen” is
used in reference to houses derived from the early log
cabins of the pine-forest areas of Louisiana. The “shotgun”
house is narrow, one room wide and two or more deep. (1) The
last named was most common, and was seen or described in
connection with most settlements studied. Although usually
unpainted, the Negro homes were rather well constructed.
Some were found which had been continuously occupied for
more than forty years.
About half the Negro quarters studied had cemeteries, and at
least one church. Schools were provided with a frequency
only slightly less than for whites, classes being taught
through the seventh grade. Here also were found the boarding
houses or “sleeping quarters” occupied by the unmarried men
of the quarter.
Mexican laborers were isolated from both white and Negro in
a quarter of their own, even poorer in human comforts than
those of the latter. Never numerous, they did not constitute
a major population element in any town, and never remained
long in any one place. Brought in to help with advance work
of mill and town construction, or as track maintenance
workers, they were replaced as the permanent labor force was
Administrative functions in the sawmill town were discharged
by the lumber company. Even the town officials elected by
popular vote were paid by the company.
One of the most active company representatives was the
“quarter-Boss.” This man - some of the larger towns had
several - was usually a peace officer deputized by parish
authorities at the request of the company, which paid his
salary. He was charged with other duties according to need
Another representative of the mill owners, the company
doctor, did much to keep the settlement functioning
smoothly. He was paid a regular salary by the company,
augmented by the fees collected from his patients. Such fees
were usually small.
In every settlement studied life was quiet and orderly. No
saloons were mentioned, and men seeking excitement in large
quantities were forced to look elsewhere. Saloons, or
“barrel-houses,” were occasionally operated by individuals
at places somewhat removed from company properties, usually in older
communities. Alexandria, Lake Charles, and other cities
provided entertainment not found in the company towns.
The Lumber Camps: Visible culture traits peculiar to the
lumber industry were not limited to the sawmill towns.
Extensions of these settlements were built into nearby
forest areas, and small replicas of them were often set up
at points miles away from the parent centers.
These small establishments, or “camps” were built close to
the front. Some included facilities adequate for family
life - a store, houses, a doctor, a corral and barn, and
railroad sidings where equipment could be stored. Some
companies did not maintain camps at all, but sent men and
animals to the front daily by train.
The shotgun houses at the camps were usually about twelve
feet wide and twenty-eight feet long, and were used
primarily because of their portability. It was said that two
or three men could ready a shotgun for moving in about five
minutes. The fire in the stove was put out and the windows
closed. The props were knocked out from under the porch
roof, which swung down to cover the end of the building.
Porch floors were slipped under the house, and the whole
thing was picked up by a steam loader and placed on a flat
car. Anchored there by cables, the houses were sometimes
simply left on the cars during the entire life of the camp.
Corrals and barns sheltered the animals used at the front.
Oxen were most commonly used for a long time, continuing in
service until recent years. Eventually there were in great
measure replaced by mules. Both were used primarily to move
logs from the cutting areas to the trams. Mules were also
frequently employed in grading tram roads. Horses were used
only as mounts or to haul the skidder tongs from the skidder
platform back to the cutting area.
The Steam Skidders and Logging Trams: The steam skidder was
very extensively used, and left an indelible mark on the
pineries of southwest Louisiana. The movement of logs by
skidder inevitably destroyed any uncut timber and young trees
which might have regenerated the forests naturally.
Connecting the sawmill with activities at the front was the
logging “tram,” a precariously built and impermanent
standard-gauge railway. Only one narrow-gauge line was found
in the entire region.
Many traces of these trams are yet visible. The maps of
Vernon and Allen Parish trams (Plates XIV and XV) were taken
from air photos. The Fisher-Victoria tram map (Plate XVI)
was copied from a map kept by a former logging
superintendent who worked for many years in that area.
As the tram came into disuse the rails were taken up and the
rights-of-way fell in disrepair. In a few places the line of
the tram still sees service as a rural road.
The right-of-way was staked out by the logging
superintendent, the man primarily responsible for getting
logs to his mill. He had to avoid steep grades and keep
bridge construction to a minimum. He had to use as few rails
as possible, and yet stay within the limits of company land.
He had to lay track so that in the event logging was halted
in one place by bad weather, a better drained area could be
reached and time loss would be minimized. His ability
to deliver logs to the mill at low cost to a great degree
determined the margin of profit the company made on its
Where terrain permitted, as on the terrace surfaces in the
south, regular and systematic tram routes were followed,
exhibiting patterns of great uniformity (Plate XV). On more
uneven surfaces, such as the Sabine and Vernon hills, trams
were forced to conform more closely to local topography. An
irregular but more practical pattern resulted (Plate XIV).
Track was not laid on all these lines simultaneously. As
fast as the timber of an area was removed, the rails were
lifted and extended into territory as yet unlogged. This was
considered the hardest physical labor in the industry, and
was done almost exclusively by Negro or Mexican laborers
organized into “steel gangs.”
Logs bunched at the trams were loaded on flat cars by steam
loaders and moved to the mills. Most locomotives were wood
burners and were called “rod” engines to distinguish them
from the less common “shay.” The shay was a small locomotive
geared to move heavy loads up steep grades, and lacked speed.
Wherever possible rod engines were used, and were much more
frequently seen along the trams. Fuel for the engines was
stacked along the track by contract haulers, usually men
from nearby farms. Examples of these locomotive types are
illustrated on page 73 (Figures 4 and 5).
Summary and Conclusions: The longleaf pine district of
southwest Louisiana was practically untouched by loggers
before 1895. Logging operations had generally been
restricted to lands adjacent to major waterways. Logs moved
along the streams to Lake Charles, a major sawmilling
center. As the forests of the northern states were
exhausted, the demand for southern timber, particularly
longleaf pine, grew rapidly, Railroads were built into
southwest Louisiana, and logging and milling were
inaugurated there on a greatly magnified scale.
The construction and peopling of numerous sawmill towns
constituted the most intensive cultural invasion hitherto
experienced in southwest Louisiana. Of comparatively short
duration, it nevertheless overwhelmed and almost obliterated
pre-existing cultural landscape forms. Some it adapted to its
own needs and services.
In the course of the three decades following the turn of the
century the longleaf forests were destroyed, and the lumber
industry, as then constituted, almost ceased to exist in the
The impact of the great mills upon the landscape is revealed
in the stretches of cutover land and second-growth forest
which replaced the virgin longleaf, and in the elements and
patterns of human occupance which comprise the visible
record of man’s activity. This record is, at least in part,
the subject of this study.
This investigation comprised essentially an inquiry into
the nature and origins of the various physical installations
the lumber industry introduced or adopted on a large scale
in the pineries of southwest Louisiana. From a study of the
sawmill towns and associated features much might be learned
of the forms which compose the present day cultural
Identified with the sawmill towns are the following: houses
of pyramidal, bungalow, single and double log-pen
derivatives, and shotgun types; logging trams; mill ponds;
and company housing districts or quarters, in which great
homogeneity of construction prevails.
All of these elements have persisted. Some have become
obscure, but all are visible at sawmill towns still in
existence, at the sites of former towns, or where the lumber
industry attached its forms and patterns to preexisting
No single form is more widely associated with the industry
than the pyramidal house. Studies of Louisiana house types
have indicated that it is almost universal in its
distribution within the state and that it was introduced
chiefly through the agency of lumbering. This report can do
little more than lend further substance to this conclusion.
The pyramidal house moved into southwest Louisiana from the
north, following the two major railroad lines into the area.
The accompanying map (Plate XVII) of house type
distributions shows its occurrence in the towns studied,
extending southward and finally giving way to other
varieties of construction.
Only custom seems to have been involved in the wide adoption
of the pyramidal house as a standard type of construction in
so many sawmill towns. Apparently the house was popular to
the north, and was widely built apart from the lumber
industry. The latter was directly responsible for its
introduction into the pineries of southwest Louisiana on a
large scale. Scores were built in the company towns and in
various modifications the pyramidal roof saw service in the
construction of schools, boarding houses, and other
As the sawmill towns dissolved, their inhabitants scattered
through out the state, and the pyramidal roof now appears
almost everywhere. It's seen in rural areas, but its real
significance can best be judged by visits to towns situated
in sections of formerly intensive logging, or where active
mills with their attendant company houses are still found.
Better residential areas exhibit many varieties of the
pyramidal roof. New houses are being constructed with this
variety of roof and general plan. Figures 10, 11, and 12
illustrate some forms of the contemporary pyramidal house.
The shotgun house is widely associated with lumbering in
southwest Louisiana. It entered the longleaf district from
two main directions, north and south. The map of house type
distributions shows the shotgun to be common in north and
south, weakening toward the center of the area.
Some form of the shotgun house was known to the French
farmers of southwest Louisiana, (2) and was already present
there when the intensive phase of lumbering began. In areas
to the north the shotgun had been adopted by the lumber
companies, since its qualities made it especially adaptable
to their requirements. To ease and cheapness of construction
the shotgun house coupled the advantage of extreme
portability. It in fact resembles nothing more
than a box car without wheels. It was used on a large scale
for housing the more transient elements of a working
population of, at best, a rather impermanent nature.
Shotgun houses were described as being present in the Negro
quarters of fifteen of the twenty towns studied, and were
seen in all towns still in existence which were visited.
Their numbers are diminishing in the face of an improving
level of living which calls for better housing.
Like the shotgun, the bungalow also was known in French
south Louisiana, (3) and was adopted by the lumber industry
as it moved north from the Lake Charles area. Only the most
southern towns among those studied were said to have
The house spread rapidly throughout the state as the mill
towns disappeared, and its popularity has grown rather than
diminished. Bungalows are easily constructed, lend
themselves to considerable modification, and have the
quality of providing maximum coverage with minimum cost.
The log cabin and its derivatives were present in
considerable numbers in the hill areas of the state at the
outset of intensive lumbering. (4) Frame equivalents of both
single and double log-pen modes of construction were adopted
by lumber companies. As the map of distributions indicates,
they were found most frequently in the north and central
sections. Numbers of log-pen derivatives are yet to be seen
in active sawmill towns. Generally the single log-pen house
was built for Negroes, the double log-pen for whites.
Much variation was found among the houses of each type from
town to town. A major variable was the material used in
their construction. During the early days of lumbering
board-and-batten walls were commonly used in all house
types. Later, as the town flourished, company housing
improved in quality. Dwellings were enlarged, of more sound
construction, with excellent horizontal siding. Many
original company houses, continuously occupied for their
entire existence, still show only slight deterioration.
Two other elements contributed to the landscape by the
lumber industry have persisted to a degree, but are becoming
increasingly obscure: the mill pond and the logging tram. In
a few places ponds still remain in fair condition, and have
acquired new character as recreational spots. Some serve as
watering places for cattle and the growth of livestock herds
may justify the rehabilitation of some of the ponds.
Otherwise abandoned ponds seem to have little value, and are
being allowed to deteriorate.
Most sawmill towns were centers of radiating system of
logging trams. Though some are used as lanes or secondary
roads, most seem doomed to obliteration, and are becoming
In the original sawmill towns white and Negro residential
areas were invariably separated, usually by some feature,
such as the sawmill, railroad, or belt of woods. This
separation is still evident in active sawmill towns, and
isolated Negro quarters are seen in other settlements.
When considered as a group, the forms described in these
pages make up a most significant portion of the cultural
landscape of the area studied, and give ample evidence of
the vitality and force of the lumber industry as an agency
in its development.
Belisle, John G. A History of Sabine Parish, Louisiana.
Many, Louisiana: Sabine Banner Press, 1912. pp. 319.
Berry, J. B. Southern Woodland Trees. Chicago: World Book
Co., 1924. pp. viii 214.
Boerker, R. H. D. Behold our Green Mansions. Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1945. pp. xv 313.
Brasher, Mabel, et. al. Louisiana, A Study of the State.
Atlanta: Johnson Publishing Co., 1929. pp. xiv 427.
Cottingham, E. B., Sr. A History of Caldwell Parish,
Louisiana. Kelly, Louisiana: 1938. pp. 67.
Dennett, David Louisiana As It Is. New Orleans: The Eureka
Press, 1876. pp. xiii 288.
Dormon, C. Forest Trees of Louisiana And How to Know Them.
Baton Rouge: Ramires-Jones Printing Co., 1928. pp. 93.
Douglas, C. L. James Bowie. Dallas: Banks, Upshaw and Co.,
1944. pp. 216.
Elliot, C. N. Southern Forestry. Atlanta: Turner E. Smith
and Co., 1938. pp. ix 494.
Eyraud, J. M., and Millet, D. J. A History of St. John the
Baptist Parish. Marrero, Louisiana: Hope of Haven Press,
1939. pp. 143.
Fortier, Alcee Louisiana. Atlanta: Century Historical
Association, 1914. I. PP. 621.
Greely, W. B. Forests and Men. Garden City, N. Y. :
Doubleday and Co., 1951. pp. 255.
Horn, S. F. This Fascinating Lumber Business. Indianapolis:
The Bobbs-Merrill Co., Inc., 1943. pp. 400.
Lillard, R. G. The Great Forest. New York: A. A. Knopf, 1947.
pp. xiv 399.
McLure, L. and Howe, J. E. A History of Shreveport and
Shreveport Builders. Shreveport: 1937.
Moon, F. and Brown, N. C. Elements of Forestry. New York: J.
Wiley and Sons, 1937. pp. xviii 397.
Wackerman, A. E. Harvesting Timber Crops. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1949. pp. xii 437.
Wahlenburg, W. G. Longleaf Pine. Washington: Charles Lathrop
Pact Forestry Foundation, 1946. pp. 429.
Williamson, F. W. and Williamson, L. H. Northeast Louisiana.
Monroe, Louisiana: Historical Records Association, 1939. pp.
Bloomer, P. A. “Fisher, Louisiana, A Mill That Once Cut Out,
Now Plans to Run ‘From Now On,’” The Gulf Coast Lumberman,
XXXVII (1950), 22-24.
Boisfontaine, A. S. “The Small Mill - It's Awakening and
Development,” Journal of Forestry, XXX (1937), 137-142.
Boyd, James. “Fifty Years in the Southern Pine Industry,”
Southern Lumberman, CXLV (1931), 23-24.
Brown, Clair. “Historical Commentary on the Distribution of
Vegetation in Louisiana and Some Recent Observations,”
Proceedings, Louisiana Academy of Sciences, (1943), 35-47.
Bruce, D. “Thirty-two Years of Annual Burning in Longleaf
Pine," Journal of Forestry, XLV (1947), 809-814.
Bruce, D. and Bickford, C. A. “Use of Fire in Natural
Regeneration of Longleaf Pine,” Journal of Forestry, XLVIII
Chapman, H. H. “Results of a Prescribed Fire at Urania,
Louisiana, on Longleaf Pine Land, “Journal of Forestry,” XLV
Davis, W. W. “The Yellow-pine Lumber Industry in the South,”
Review of Reviews, XXIX (1904) 443-450.
Eldredge, I. P. “Southern Forests, Then and Now,” Journal of
Forestry, L (1952), 182-185.
Emerson, F. V. “The Southern Longleaf Pine Belt,”
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Ford, Curry. “Bankers Talk, Practice Forestry,” Forests and
People, II (1952), 25-27.
Hartman, G. B. “The Calcasieu Pine District of Louisiana,”
The Ames Forester, X (1922), 63-73.
Kerr, Ed. “Pine Tree Cowboys Start a New Era,” Forests
People, II (1952), 15-16.
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Association of American Geographers, XXVI (1936),
“New Orleans - Important Lumber Center, Specializing in Export
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Geology of Louisiana,” Proceedings, Louisiana Academy of
Sciences, (1943), 25-34.
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Timber,” Journal of Forestry, LI (1953), 169-172.
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Burning on Height and Growth of Longleaf Pine,” Journal of
Forestry, XLV (1947), 503-508.
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The course of this study led to the accumulation of a
considerable body of information concerning the sawmill
towns. Literature relative to the origin, existence, and
decline of specific communities is extremely deficient, that
examined being not only scant but couched in the most
general terms. It is hoped that the inclusion of the
following information as an appendix to this study will in
some measure remedy this deficiency. The material contained
herein may have sociological and historical value.
Each of the twenty settlement descriptions which follow
embraces at least four elements: a written account of the
town, a map, floor plans of company houses, and photographs.
Written descriptions include the major facts of the town’s
time and place of existence, and details of its character,
composition, and administration.
Sketch maps were prepared with the help of former residents,
and vary in completeness with the information they revealed.
It is believed that the maps are substantially correct.
The company house floor plans are essentially elaboration on
descriptions given in the text. Original company houses are
fast disappearing, and these plans were drawn with a view
toward preserving some details of their construction. Broken
lines in the diagrams indicate breaks in the roofs.
The photographs are also closely supplementary to the
descriptions. In some instances it was possible to show only
photos of the abandoned sites. A number of pictures are
included, to which no specific reference is made in the
text. Their inclusion serves to complete the picture of the
former cultural landscape, and make its identification with
the present more exact.
Alco, Vernon Parish, was one of the last sawmill towns, and
was founded by the Alexandria Lumber Company, operations
beginning in 1923. It was situated on the Red River and Gulf
Railway, a line which ran westward from Longleaf on the
Missouri Pacific to Sandel on the Kansas City Southern. In
1928 the town and mill were purchased by C. T. Crowell. The
Crowell mill at Meridian, Evangeline Parish, had been
destroyed by fire, and the entire crew was transferred to
The mill assembly included a pine mill, a planer mill, dry
kilns, a lumber yard, a standpipe, machine shop, and a large
mill pond. A corral and barn near the mill housed the mules
used for grading logging trams.
Alco included boarding houses and schools for white and
colored, the mill offices, and a commissary. There was also
a depot, doctor’s office and drug store, barber shop, and
post office. Generators at the mill provided electricity for
the town, and all sections enjoyed running water.
The 1930 population was about 1,000, but earlier the town
reportedly held as many as 2,000 people, white and Negro.
Most came from other settlements where operations were
slowing down or had halted altogether.
For the most part white families lived in pyramidal houses
of unusual design. The porch roof was formed by extending
the roof of the house at the same angle of slope, so
that it made a single continuing panel projecting beyond the
wass (sic) (wall?) over the porch. The dwellings were painted white, and
Negro families occupied both pyramidal and shotgun houses,
air photos indicating that the latter were far more
numerous. The Negro dwellings were well spaced, with large
yards, and were situated on what seem to have been well-kept
streets, in sharp contrast to the generally makeshift
arrangement of such quarters in other towns.
Barham came into existence about 1902, when the W.R.
Pickering Lumber Company began operations in northwestern
Vernon Parish. Ownership later passed to the Weber-King
Lumber Company. It seems evident that the town was on the
decline as early as 1920, the census of that year indicating
a population of only 250. Earlier the mill had employed more
than 300 men. The company houses were sold in
1927 and either dismantled or removed.
The plant included a pine mill, a planer mill, dry kilns, a
lumber yard, machine shop, and a mill pond. A corral and
barn stood near the mill to accommodate the dolly-run mules
and others used at the front. Generators at the mill
provided electricity for the entire settlement. Residents
obtained water from dug wells at their homes. The company
operated a commissary, and a doctor was kept on call for all
employees and their families.
The commercial district included a barber shop, post office,
and depot. There were boarding houses for both white and
colored, and elementary schools and churches for each race.
House types were limited to pyramidal and single log-pen
dwellings, occupied by whites and Negroes respectively.
Bon Ami, Beauregard Parish, was established by the Long Bell
Lumber Company. Construction at the site began in 1898, and
operations were initiated by 1901. Work there ceased in
Situated about three miles south of DeRidder on the Kansas
City Southern Railway, Bon Ami marked the junction of that
line with the Louisiana and Pacific, which in 1901 ran from
Bon Ami directly south to Lake Charles. The latter
eventually became part of the Southern Pacific system. Both
railroads had stations in Bon Ami.
The Bon Ami plant handled only pine timber, and had an
annual capacity of from fifty-five to sixty million board
feet of lumber. Facilities included a pine mill, planer
mill, machine shop, dry kilns, lumber yard, and mill pond. A
barn and corral at the mill housed mules used there, and a
standpipe and generators furnished water and lights to the
Two boarding houses for whites and one for Negroes were
operated in the settlement, along with the usual commissary
and company offices. Schools were provided for children of
both races, classes extending through the seventh grade.
Recreational facilities in Bon Ami were unusual, since they
included a recreation hall for Negroes, and a Young Men’s
Christian Association building for whites. The latter seems
to have been an imposing structure, holding a theater, soda
fountain, bowling alleys, and a barber shop.
There were two churches in the settlement, for whites and
Negroes, a doctor’s office, where drugs were dispensed by
the company physician, and a post office.
The population of Bon Ami was not determined, but estimates
place the figure at about 1,500 for most of its existence. A
number of families there were said to have come to the town
directly from Arkansas.
Information with regard to house types at Bon Ami was not
clear, but suggested that the principal types represented
were the bungalow and the shotgun, occupied by white and
Negro families respectively.
Considerable evidence of the nature of the original
settlement was observed at the Bon Ami site. The mill pond
was in good condition, and the remains of the mill were seen
at its northern end. The large wooden structures which are
shown in the accompanying photographs of the site are part
of a planer mill recently operated there.
In 1903 the Carson plant was built in Beauregard Parish by
the Central Coal and Coke Company of Oklahoma. After World
War I this very large concern was reorganized, and the
Carson properties renamed the Delta Land and Timber Company.
Operations ceased at 5:30 p. m., Thanksgiving Day, 1926.
The mill had a daily capacity of about 100,000 board feet,
and included a pine mill, planer mill, dry kilns, lumber
yard, machine shop, and a large mill pond, now Carson Lake.
Also in the mill area were the generators and standpipe,
supplying electricity and water to the entire town, and the
barn and corral for the twenty or thirty mules used at the
In the commercial section were the commissary and offices, a
combined doctor’s office and drug store, a barber shop, post
office, and ice cream parlor.
A boarding house for whites was operated in the settlement,
and two were provided for Negroes. Schools for both races
offered classes through the seventh grade. Children of high
school age were sent to DeRidder. White residents attended a
Union church, while the Negro quarter boasted three houses
of worship. Two cemeteries were opened at Carson, one white
and one Negro.
The former residents interviewed described Carson as the
“best sawmill town in the world,” and its attractions make
an impressive list. The commissary operated a free delivery
service, and ice was delivered to each dwelling every
morning. Italian peddlers from DeRidder were encouraged by
the company to compete with the commissary. Motion pictures
were shown at the company theater three nights a week. There
was no admission fee, and showings were attended by both
whites and Negroes. Medical care was paid for by individual
assessment. Each man paid a monthly fee, for which he and
his family received the care of the company doctor, and all
drugs prescribed by him. This fee, in the case of married
men, was $1.25, and for single men $1.00.
In spite of generous policies the company was sometimes in
short supply with regard to labor. The quarter-boss acted as
chief recruiter of labor, white and colored, a task which
sometimes led him into neighboring towns in search of
experienced men. His time was also devoted to supervising the
crew of night watchmen, and renting the company houses.
These duties he discharged in addition to his principal
function as parish deputy.
At Carson white families occupied bungalows, an example of
which appears in the accompanying photograph. This
particular house is somewhat larger than most homes in the
settlement. Negro houses were described a simple bungalows
and shotgun houses. All homes in the town were of good
construction and painted gray, white, yellow, or brown.
The W. I. Pickering Lumber Company established Cravens in
southwest Vernon Parish in 1905, and operated a mill there
until 1925. Cravens represented the larger and more
elaborate sawmill town. The plant included a pine mill,
planer mill, and dry kilns, lumber yard, machine shop,
corral, barn, and mill pond. Two standpipes at the mill
furnished water to the settlement, and generators there
provided electricity. The Cravens mill was moved to Urania
when operations at the former location ceased.
Boarding houses were built in the town for workers of both
races, that for whites being a two-story structure of fifty
rooms. Schools were operated for whites and Negroes, a
duplication along racial lines which was extended to include
two churches and two cemeteries. In the commercial district were
the commissary, company offices, ice house, depot, doctor’s
office, barber shop, and post office.
Most residents were recruited from among the native population,
but some of the more responsible positions were held by men
brought from Kansas City, Missouri.
Company houses were of two types, bungalows for whites, and
single log-pen for Negroes. None of the original company
houses were seen at the site.
Elizabeth, northern Allen Parish, was founded by the
Industrial Lumber Company in 1907, but, due to unsettled
economic conditions, operations were not begun there until
The mill at Elizabeth continued to run until about 1921. In
1923 an attempt was made to open a paper mill there, but
this effort ended in failure. Another, in 1926, was
successful. Elizabeth can no longer be considered a sawmill
town, but its appearance and organization along company
lines are little altered.
The town early won the reputation of being attractive,
through special efforts on the part of the company. The mill
included a pine mill, planer mill, and dry kilns, lumber
yard, corral and barn, machine shop, and mill pond. Two
turpentine stills were operated near the mill. Water and
electricity were furnished to the town by a standpipe and
generators at the mill.
In the business district were the company offices,
commissary, drug store, barber shop, a bakery, beauty
parlor, theater, and post office. The commissary and most
other businesses were operated by the A. B. Finke Company,
which paid the lumber company a percentage of it profits.
The company maintained a hospital staffed by three
physicians and several nurses. Two hotels were operated for
whites and one for Negroes. Schools for both races offered
classes through seventh grade. At first, a Union church was
used by the white residents, and later two others were
built. Two churches stood in the Negro quarter.
As a sawmill town Elizabeth had a population of roughly
1,500, recruited largely from local inhabitants. Some
families were brought by the company from their mill at Vinton,
The original company houses included pyramidal, shotgun, and
single log-pen types. Pyramidal and log-pen dwellings were
occupied by white families. Negroes lived in log-pen and
shotgun houses. White residences were painted a uniform
white, and the Negro stained a dark red. Most of the larger
homes were adapted to accommodate two families, and some
were so occupied when the settlement was visited during the
course of this study.
Fisher, Sabine Parish, is one of the few sawmill towns to
survive in its original form. The town was built by the
Louisiana Longleaf Lumber Company in 1899, and this
organization has operated the mill continuously since that
year. Steam skidders were never used on these holdings, and
uncut trees were not destroyed, allowing natural forest
regeneration to proceed.
Various reasons were given concerning the decision not to
use steam skidders. It was said that they were not used in
order to “save the woods,” but lumbermen of that day were
not particularly concerned with reforestation. It seems more
likely that economic considerations of an immediate nature
were the principal factors involved.
According to company records, pine lumber of the best
quality sold in 1899 for an average price of $6.44 a
thousand board feet. By 1914 this had risen to only $12.27 a
thousand. At the mill a man could fill his wagon with his
choice of the best lumber for a dollar. Steam skidders were
expansive, and the low prices prevalent at the turn of the
century precluded their immediate purchase.
Moreover, timber in the Fisher area occurred in mixed sizes,
and selective logging was necessary, since only the best
lumber could be sold at a profit. To the south the timber
was “all big,” and the skidders could take almost
everything. At Fisher logs were moved to the trams first by
oxen, later by mules.
Some of the Fisher residents were brought by the company
from Greenville, Wayne County, southeastern Missouri. Others
were natives of Sabine Parish, and for a time Mexican
laborers were used at the front. In 1936 some families moved
from Victoria to Fisher, when the former mill cut out.
The Fisher mill assembly includes a pine mill, planer mill,
dry kilns, lumber yard, machine shop, mill pond, and barn
and corral. Water and lights for the town are furnished by
facilities at the mill.
The commercial section contains a boarding house,
commissary, company office, ice house, depot, barber shop,
and theater. Another boarding house is located in the
residential section. A small café is operated in the
commissary building. A trained nurse lives in Fisher, and
the company also retains a doctor who resides in Many.
Fisher house types include the log-pen and shotgun, occupied
by whites and Negroes respectively. Some of the older Negro
homes are of the log-pen variety. Other types are few in
number, and in general company housing seems to have altered
slightly. Changes are related mainly to the improvement of
already-present types. In the white residential section
heavy unpainted boards have given way to excellent
horizontal siding, painted buff. Lean-tos have been attached
to many Negro shotgun houses.
Fullerton, Vernon Parish, was established by the Gulf Lumber
Company in 1906, and cut out in 1927. (1) Evidently the mill
was extremely large. Boyd describes it as the “largest mill
west of the Mississippi,” and states that it had three
double-cutting band mills, two timber-cutting band mills,
and an eight-foot horizontal re-saw. It was built entirely
of steel and concrete, and had an annual capacity of about
120 million board feet. (2)
Ford (3) gives the mill and output of 250,000 board feet per
day, and recounts that when the mill was running day and
night the logs from forty acres of virgin longleaf were
required to keep it going for a single twenty-four hour
period. Also included in the establishment were a
distillery, which manufactured grain alcohol from slabs and
refuse, a planer mill, machine shop, dry kilns, lumber
yard, and mill pond.
Such a large plant attracted a sizeable population. By 1920
Fullerton was incorporated and had 2,412 inhabitants, just a
few less than Leesville, largest town in the parish.
However, only 148 people remained in 1930.
Those who lived in Fullerton described it as “the best
sawmill town in the country.” Accounts indicate that they
enjoyed a combination of facilities unusual even among the
more notable settlements of this type.
Standpipes were located in Negro and white residential
areas, providing water for all dwellings. Generators at the
mill furnished electricity to all quarters. Ice was brought
in by rail, and stored at an ice house near the depot. The
company employed two quarter-bosses, and provided a hospital
with doctors and nursing service.
The commissary deserves special mention. The ruins of this
one-story building are still impressive. It had concrete
floors and walls, and measured about 90 by 120 feet. The
building also housed the barber shop and other small
A branch bank was established in Fullerton by the First
State Bank of Leesville. (4) There was also a drug store, a
café, a theater, and a post office. Boarding houses were
operated for both white and colored, the former known as the
“Hotel de Pines.”
The town had two churches, for whites and Negroes, each with
its own cemetery. Similarly, schools wear provided for
races, classes for white children extending through the high
Houses in Fullerton included pyramidal and shotgun types.
Families of white workers occupied pyramidal houses which
seem to have been unusually well made and comfortable. None
were seen at the site, and they are described here at second
hand. In general, they were similar to the Negro residence
shown in the accompanying photograph, but somewhat larger.
They were painted various colors, usually white, and in some
cases boasted indoor plumbing installed by the company.
Houses for men in supervisory positions were very large,
some having as many as thirteen rooms, and renting for as
much as forty dollars a month.
Negro homes included both pyramidal and shotgun house types,
but the latter were never numerous. Only a few were built at
the outset of operations, and were later replaced by
pyramidal dwellings of the type illustrated.
In 1917 the Wyatt Lumber Company established Gandy, about
ten miles south of Many on the Kansas City Southern Railway.
By this time much of the longleaf pine timber in the area
had been cut, a hardwood mill was installed in addition to
the pine mill. Timber was brought in from lands to the west,
camps being established at Esto, Negreet, and Bowie. Also at
the Gandy mill there was a machine shop, standpipe, lumber
yard, and mill pond.
Near the mill the company built a barn and small corral, or
“stomp lot,” where four mules used at the mill were kept.
Big corrals were maintained at the camps for mules used at
the front. Steam skidders were not used here, and the
transition in log-handling methods was directly from animal
Gandy was not large, and in 1930 it was said to have a
population of some 350 persons, but in all probability this
is somewhat below the number of inhabitants in the town at
its maximum size some years earlier.
Boarding houses were provided for white and Negro workers,
and schools for the children of both races. A church was
built for white residents in their section of the town,
while services for Negroes were held in their school
Within the town there were the usual mill offices,
commissary, post office, and barber shop. A pressing shop
was also open for a number of years. Generators at the mill
provided electricity for the town, but water had to be taken
from dug wells in the yard of each house. Some of these
wells about two feet in diameter and lined with cement are
still open. Ice was brought in by rail and stored in an ice
house at the commissary.
The Gandy population included white, Negro, and Mexican
elements. The latter were never numerous, estimates
averaging about one hundred, and for the most part they were
employed only at heavier manual tasks.
Company houses remaining in Gandy, particularly those built
for white families, are large and well-built pyramidal
structures, a number of them still being occupied. In some
cases alterations have been made, taking the form of
addition to the rear of the houses or the enclosure of
porches. The houses in the white section of the town were
ordinarily painted a buff or cream color. The homes seen the
Gandy Negro quarter are of the single log-pen type,
unpainted, sturdy and well built.
Hawthorn was one of the first sawmill towns to be built in
Vernon Parish, and was located on the newly built Kansas
City Southern. Established in 1898, it represents a
transition from the small local mills of the past to the
large plants of the early twentieth century.
The mill was reportedly built by Mr. Joe Hawthorn, and later
sold to George Strange of Missouri. About 1905 Strange moved
the mill, possibly to Newlin, Beauregard Parish, and the
Hawthorn site was abandoned.
A small mill at best, the Hawthorn plant produced only rough
pine lumber and hardwood logs. Other then the mill there was
only a blacksmith shop, operated primarily for repairing
wagons and shoeing horses. A mill pond was started, but the
volume of logs remained so low that its completion was never
justified. All logs were brought to the mill by contract
haulers, using oxen.
A company store was operated in the little settlement, a
boarding house for whites who worked in the office or held
supervisory positions, and a two-story “sleeping quarter”
for white mill hands. Mail was handed out at a small post
office which was combined with the company store and office. The town had no electricity, and water was taken
from dug wells, each serving four or five families.
Children of white families were sent to the old Anacoco
community school nearby, and the Anacoco church and Masonic
lodge were attended by Hawthorn residents.
Informants describing Hawthorn were quite vague as to the
nature of house types built within the settlement, calling
them simply “box” houses. They seem to have been frame
structures, one story high, with sideward facing gables,
probably of the single log-pen type. Actually there were few
houses in the settlement, there being at the most only about
twenty white families and perhaps an equal number of
Kurthwood, northern Vernon Parish, was one of the smaller
sawmill towns, with a total population of about 800, white
and Negro. Established in 1919 by the Vernon Parish Lumber
Company, the mill cut pine until October 12, 1929. For a
time thereafter the mill produced hardwood lumber. The site
was not completely abandoned until about 1945, when the
buildings were dismantled and removed.
The original plant included a pine mill, hardwood mill,
planer mill, dry kilns, lumber yard, corral, barn, machine
shop, and mill pond. Lights and water for the town were
provided by generators and a standpipe at the mill. A
turpentine still was operated about a mile to the west by
In the settlement’s business district there were the company
offices, commissary, ice house, a combined doctor’s office
and drug store, a barber shop, pressing shop, theater, and
post office. Two boarding houses stood in this area, one for
the unmarried white men who worked in the woods crew or in
the mill, and another for the office force. A boarding house
for Negroes was operated in their quarter, just southeast of
the mill. Kurthwood schools offered instruction through the
seventh grade. Children in higher grades were sent daily to
The company supported a semi-professional baseball team, and
further augmented recreational activities by constructing a
concrete dam across a nearby creak, thus providing a
swimming pool. Bands were hired and brought in for weekly
dances held in a hall in town.
A single church building was used by white residents of all
denominations, as was the custom in the Negro quarter. In the
latter instance a cemetery was situated near the church.
In Kurthwood company houses were of two principal types:
pyramidal, occupied by whites and Negroes, and shot gun,
limited to families of the latter race.
In 1907 Longville was set up by the Long Bell Lumber Company
in southeastern Beauregard Parish, on the Lake Charles and
Northern Railroad, now the Texas and New Orleans. From that
year until 1920, the mill cut only longleaf pine. Destroyed
by fire in 1920, the mill was not rebuilt. The planer mill,
the only section not burned, was converted to the production of
hardwood flooring and was moved to DeRidder, and
operations at the Longville site ceased entirely.
The mill assembly included a pine mill, planner mill, dry
kilns, lumber yard, barn, corral, machine shop, and pond. At
the mill were the generators and standpipe which furnished
lights and water for the settlement. Horses used at the
front were kept at the corral, and taken into the woods by
train every morning. Only mules were used at the mill.
In the town were the company offices, the commissary,
boarding houses for white and colored, churches for both
races, a depot, doctor’s office, drug store, barber shop,
theater, and post office. An ice plant was operated by the
company, contrary to the more common practice of bringing
that item in by rail.
Also of special interest was the Longville bank, at present
occupied as a residence. In addition, the town included a
large hotel, a three-story frame building. Schools in the
settlement offered classes through the seventh grade for
white and Negro children. A high school for whites was built
about 1920. The town had no cemetery, and interments were
generally made at DeRidder.
The population of Longville, according to former residents,
numbered at the most about 2,500, a respectable figure of
the time. Most of the men were hired by the quarter-boss,
who recruited labor for all except the more responsible
positions. A constable was elected by popular vote, and was
responsible for order within the settlement.
Longville company houses included pyramidal, bungalow, and
shotgun types. Pyramidal dwellings were provided for the
majority of the white residents. When operations at
Longville ceased, the better homes sold for about $150.00.
One informant related that he bought the mill foreman’s home
and the entire block on which it stood for $250.00. Negro
dwellings were of bungalow and shotgun varieties.
Ludington was built by the Ludington, Wells and van Schack
Lumber Company, Ludington, Michigan. This concern founded
the Beauregard Parish settlement in 1901, and in 1913 sold
it to the Lone Bell Lumber Company. Operation of the plant
continued until 1926.
The Ludington mill, with an estimated capacity of 150,000
board feet per day, included a pine mill, planer mill, dry
kilns, lumber yard, machine shop, barn and corral, and mill
pond. The entire settlement received lights and water from
generators and a standpipe located at the mill.
In the town were the company offices, commissary, boarding
houses for white and colored, and schools. At the latter
institutions classes were taught through the seventh grade.
Further study was done at the DeRidder high school.
Ludington also had a depot, a post office, barber shop, and
doctor’s office. Churches were built for both racial groups.
One former resident of Ludington stated that the first dial
telephone system used publicly in the United States was
installed in the mill and offices in 1913. This was
apparently a model system built for research and
experimentation, and after study was sold to the lumber
White families in Ludington lived in pyramidal houses, such
as those illustrated here, while Negroes occupied two or
four-room shotgun houses.
McNary was a sawmill town located immediately north of
Glenmore in Rapides Parish. The exact year of it
establishment by the W. M. Cady Lumber Company was not
learned. Informants could say only “before 1914.” McNary
does not appear on the Kenyon map of 1910, but is shown on
the National Map Company of 1920. Operations at the site
were said to have ceased about 1925.
The plant, with a daily capacity of about 400,000 board
feet, included a pine mill, planner mill, lumber yard, mill
pond, and reserve pond, and a machine shop. At the mill were generators which
provided electricity for the town, and two or three
standpipes furnished water for all quarters.
McNary children went to school in Glenmore, and white
families attended church services there and buried their
dead in the Glenmore cemetery. There were boarding houses
for white and colored, a commissary, offices, and ice plant,
and a depot. The company retained two physicians,
maintaining for them a small hospital. Also in the town were
a drug store, a barber shop, post office, and Negro church.
McNary was incorporated, and in 1920 had a population of
1,318. By 1930 this figure had dropped to 211. Some 500 more
men, mostly Negroes, were employed in the woods, and lived
at camps which were in reality small towns, with water
systems, commissaries, corrals, machine shops, and other
facilities. The use of animals was generally limited to
operations at the front. At the mill battery-powered
tractors were used, later replaced by shortened Ford trucks.
McNary company houses were of two general types: pyramidal
and shotgun. Of the pyramidal houses several were observed
at the site, and are illustrated here. None of the original
shotgun houses occupied by Negroes was seen.
Peason, southeast Sabine Parish, was established in 1918 by
the Peavy-Wilson Lumber Company, which continued operations
there until 1934. The selection of a town site in this area
was a problem, since surface water supplies were inadequate.
Wells drilled in several locations produced salt water, the
first fresh water found finally determining the town’s site.
The mill plant included a pine mill, planer mill, dry kilns,
lumber yard, machine shop, mill pond, and reserve pond.
Nearby there was a twelve-acre corral, with barn, which
housed mules used at he mill and in the woods. Generators
and a water tank at the mill supplied the entire settlement
with lights and water. Bathroom facilities in company houses
were installed at the occupant’s expanse.
The commercial district included a barber shop, the company
offices and a post office. The commissary housed the offices
of two company doctors and a drug store, in addition to its
own large merchandising establishment. Also at hand was a
theater, a boarding house for whites, and ice house, and a
grammar school for white children. A small café, the “Blue
Room,” was operated in the boarding house.
Churches were built in Peason for both racial groups, that
of the whites being used by two denominations, Baptist and
Methodist. Morning and evening services were held by each
group on alternate Sundays. Only the Negroes had a cemetery
In its early days Peason included Mexican as well as white
and Negro elements. The Mexicans numbered only one hundred
or so, and lived in a separate quarter called “Mexico.” They
were employed during the construction of the mill and town,
and were sent away soon afterward.
White families lived in pyramidal houses, locally called
“red-tops,” or “umbrella houses.” Negroes and Mexicans
occupied shotgun houses.
Loggers from Peason cut timber all the way to the Sabine
River, first longleaf, then other pines. Steam skidders and
oxen were used to bunch the logs, and shays moved then to
the main spur lines. Trucks were first introduced at the
Peason front about 1926-Model “T” Fords, with a
single-wheeled trailer. According to the account of one of
the first men to handle these machines, the truck could move
only one log at a time, but could make forty trips a day,
while an ox team made only three.
The W. R. Pickering Lumber Company built Pickering about
1900, and operated a sawmill there until it was destroyed by
fire in 1925. The plant was not rebuilt, and the settlement
was shortly thereafter abandoned.
The mill included pine and planer mills, dry kilns, a lumber
yard, machine shop, corral, barn, and mill pond. Generators
at he mill furnished electricity for the town, but water in
residential areas was obtained from dug wells, usually
arranged so that a single well could supply two homes.
A boarding house was built for white workers and another for
colored. The same duplication of construction prevailed with
regard to schools and churches. There were also the company
offices, the commissary, and the depot, and the post office.
Beyond these components, the settlement boasted only a
barber shop, doctor’s office, and ice house.
The people of Pickering were, for the most part, natives of
the area, but some were brought from Missouri by the
company. A small number of Mexicans were employed for a time
as track maintenance workers.
The log-pen house was apparently the most common in
Pickering, being occupied by both white and Negro families.
A few pyramidal houses seem to have been built, but were
definitely in the minority.
Slagle, Vernon Parish, was built in 1919 by the White and
Grandin Lumber Company. Reports give the mill and annual
capacity of some fifty million board feet, and at the time
the mill cut out, in 1930, the town had a population of
about 1,500. Many of these people were brought to Louisiana
by the company, having originally been employed in Missouri.
The mill included a pine mill, planer mill, dry kilns,
lumber yard, barn, corral, mill pond, reserve pond, and
machine shop. Lights and water were furnished for the town
by generators and a standpipe at the mill.
Business establishments in the settlement included a
boarding house and hotel for whites and boarding house for
Negroes. There was a commissary, which housed a drug
department, the company offices, doctor’s office, barber
shop, theater, and bank.
Schools were maintained for both races, as were churches,
and the Negro and Mexican population had a cemetery. About
fifty Mexicans lived at Slagle, employed as track workers.
House types were generally restricted to pyramidal, for
white families, and shotgun for Negroes and Mexicans.
Some doubt exists as to the exact date Victoria was
established, but according to some accounts this was the
site of a small sawmill operated as early as 1882 by the
Victoria Lumber Company. Hardee’s map of 1895 marks the
site, identifying it as “Victoria Mills.” About 1898 the
place was purchased by the Louisiana Longleaf Lumber Company,
and large-scale operations were begun. The mill cut out in
1936, most of the establishment being absorbed by
The mill assembly included a pine mill, planer mill, dry
kilns, lumber yard, corral, barn, machine shop, and mill
pond. A standpipe and generators at the mill furnished water
and lights to the entire settlement.
Many Victoria residents were brought by the company from
Greenville, Missouri. At the most the inhabitants numbered
about 1,500, white and Negro.
Boarding houses and schools were set up for both white and
colored residents, and in the business district there was a
commissary, the mill offices, a depot, a combined doctor’s
office and drug store, a barber shop, and a post office.
The two principal types of company houses were the pyramidal
and shotgun, occupied by whites and Negroes respectively.
In 1905 the Rico and Ward Lumber
company established Wars in Allen Parish on the Missouri
Pacific Railway, about eight miles north of Oberlin. Work
there continued until 1917, interrupted only by the panic of
The first families to come to Ward were
brought by the company from Hyatt in east Texas. A small
mill was erected and immediately employed at cutting lumber
for the larger mill and the town. By the time the main plant
was completed the entire settlement was ready for occupance.
At the mill, which had a daily capacity
of about 80,000 board feet, there were pine and planer
mills, dry kilns, a lumber yard, machine shop, barn, and
corral. The barn was single-story structure resembling a
bungalow, roughly forty feet wide and sixty feet long. It
was enclosed in a corral, and another corral was maintained
at the front. Mules were used in both locations. The mill
pond was fed by a deep well at the mill, and in
unusually dry weather water was brought by pipeline from the
Calcasieu River, about a mile to the west. Generators at the
mill provided electricity for the town, but the standpipe
there furnished water to the mill only. Dug wells with hand
pumps were the main source water in residential areas.
In the town there were boarding houses
for whites and Negroes, as well as schools. The Negroes
built a church for their own use, while white residents
conducted services in their school building. Other
establishments in the settlement included the company
offices, a doctor's office, a barber shop, and post office.
About 500 men were employed at Ward, in
the woods or at the mill. White employees were quartered in
bungalows, while Negroes lived in both single log-pen and
shotgun houses. For the most part these company houses were
unpainted, and very simply constructed.
Woodworth, Rapides Parish, was a company town built by the
Rapides Lumber Company just prior to 1900. In 1910 ownership
passed to the Long Bell Lumber Company, and operations thee
ceased in 1926. The Woodworth mill was a large one, with a
reported capacity of 125,000 board feet daily. It cut only
pine, and when supplies of the timber were exhausted the
plant was closed.
The mill assembly included a pine mill, planner mill, dry
kilns, machine shop, mill pond, barn, two corrals, a lumber
yard, and a lumber shed capable of sheltering a million
board feet of lumber. Generators at the mill furnished
electricity for the entire settlement, and running water
went to all homes from the mill standpipe.
Woodworth included a hotel, a boarding house and school for
whites, and a boarding house and school for Negroes. The
usual company offices were present, along with a commissary,
an ice house, and a warehouse which served as a depot.
Churches for both races, a doctor’s office, drug store,
barber shop, theater, post office, and white and Negro
cemeteries completed the settlement.
The labor force at Woodworth was, for the most part,
recruited from local sources. Only two exceptions were
noted: a group of whites brought from Atlanta, Texas,
about 1900, and a small group of Mexican laborers. The
latter never numbered more than 100 and were chiefly
employed at heavy work in the lumber yard, dry kilns, or
track maintenance. They lived in a quarter segregated from
both whites and Negroes, and did not remain long in service
House types were of two principal kinds: pyramidal and
shotgun. Pyramidal dwellings were occupied by white
families, and apparently were well built and comfortable.
Many were enlarged by the addition of rooms at the rear.
Most were painted white. Negro homes were of the shotgun
type, three rooms deep, and unpainted. Such houses were used
at the camps as well as in town.
Bungalow: house type adopted in lumber industry as form of
the company housing. Previously known in south Louisiana.
Generally two rooms wide, two or more deep, with gables
facing front and rear.
Company house: residence built and rented by company to
Company town: settlement built, owned, and administered by
Corral: small area, enclosed by board fence, where animals
were kept. Usually included a barn. Sometimes built at the
Front: area in forest where logging is actually in progress.
Logging spur: standard-gauge rail line from main line to
mill or toward front.
Logging tram: standard-gauge rail line from mill to front.
Log-pen house: evolved from early log cabins of pine hills,
and adopted in company housing.
Lumber camp: small establishment near the front supporting
woods crews. Some very small, others large, with store and
Pyramidal house: house type brought from north by lumber
industry, and widely used in company housing. Square, with
roof sloping from all sides toward central peak or ridge.
Sawmill town: a town dependent upon a sawmill for existence.
Shotgun house: widely used in company housing. Already known
in south Louisiana, and brought in from north by lumber
industry. One room wide, two or more deep, with gables
facing front and rear.
Sleeping quarter: building for sleeping purposes only,
usually for men of lower rank. Meals were not served.
George Alvin Stokes was
born December 29th, 1920, at Winnfield, Louisiana. His
elementary and high school education was received at
Winnfield High School, from which
he graduated in 1937.
He was awarded the Bachelor of Arts degree by the then
Louisiana State Normal College, Natchitoches, Louisiana, in
1942. His major study there was history, and he earned a
minor in geography.
In 1946 he entered the Graduate School of Louisiana State
University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Geography constituted
his study there, and he was awarded the degree of Master of
Science in 1949. In that same year he was elected to
membership in the Society of the Sigma Xi.
Following graduation he accepted the appointment he now
holds, that of Assistant Professor of Geography and Geology
at Northwestern State College, Natchitoches, Louisiana.
1. Clair A. Brown, Louisiana Trees and Shrubs (Baton Rouge:
Louisiana Forestry Commission Bulletin No. 1, 1945), p. 6.
2. For explanation of this and other terms, see Glossary.
1. J. B. Berry, Southern Woodland Trees (Chicago: World Book
Co., 1924), p. 32.
2. Ibid., p. 34.
3. W. G. Wahlenburg, Longleaf Pine (Washington: Charles
Lathrop Pack Forestry Foundation, 1946), p. 215.
4. J. H. Foster, “Forest Conditions in Louisiana,” Forest
Service Bulletin 114 (Washington: United States Department
of Agriculture, 1912), p. 6.
5. R. D. Forbes, “The Why and the How of Forestry in
Louisiana,” Department of Conservation Bulletin No. 13 (New
Orleans: State of Louisiana, 1921), p. 16.
6. Wahlenburg, op. cit., p. 46.
7. I. F. Eldredge, “Southern Forests Then and Now,” Journal
of Forestry, L (1952), 183.
8. F. V. Emerson, “The Southern Long-leaf Pine Belt,”
Geographical Review, VII (1919), 81.
9. R. H. D. Boerker, Behold Our Green Mansions (Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1945), p. 239.
10. H. H. Chapman, “Results of a Prescribed Fire at Urania,
Louisiana, on Longleaf Pine Land,” Journal of Forestry, XLV
11. P. C. Wakely and H. H. Muntz, “Effect of Prescribed
Burning on Height and Growth of Longleaf Pine,” Journal of
Forestry, XLV (1947), 503.
12. Wahlenburg, op. cit., p. 55.
13. W. T. Penfound, “Plant Distributions in Relation to the
Geology of Louisiana,” Proceedings, Louisiana Academy of
Sciences, (1943), p. 27.
14. Clair Brown, “Historical Commentary on the Distribution
of Vegetation in Louisiana, and Some Recent Observations,”
Proceedings, Louisiana Academy of Sciences, (1943), p.45.
15. G. B. Hartman, “The Calcasieu Pine District of
Louisiana,” The Ames Forester, X (1922), 65.
16. Wahlenburg, loc. cit.
17. Ibid., p. 51.
18. Forbes, op. cit. p. 9.
19. E. Kerr, “Pine Tree Cowboys Start a New Era,” Forests
and People, II (1952), 15.
1. A. E. Wackerman, Harvesting Timber Crops, (New York:
McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1949), p. 21.
2. “New Orleans - Important Lumber Center, Specializing in
Export Trade,” Southern Lumberman, CXLIV (1931), 137.
3. F. W. and L. H. Williamson, Northeast Louisiana, (Monroe,
Louisiana: Historical Records Association, 1939), p. 49.
4. S. F. Horn, This Fascinating Lumber Business,
(Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1951), p. 28.
5. C. L. Douglas, James Bowie, (Dallas: Banks, Upshaw and
Company, 1944), p. 9.
6. Williamson, op. cit., p. 71.
7. James Boyd, “Fifty Years in the Southern Pine Industry,”
Southern Lumberman, CXLV (1931), 27.
8. Williamson, op. cit., p. 112.
9. “New Orleans,” op. cit. p.137.
10. Boyd, loc. cit.
11. Vernon Parish Resources and Facilities (Baton Rouge:
State of Louisiana Department of Public Works, 1949), p. 8.
12. Boyd, loc. cit.
13. R. G. Lillard, The Great Forest (New York: A. A. Knopf,
1947), p. 171.
14. Ibid., p. 186.
15. Calcasieu Parish Resources and Facilities (Baton Rouge:
State of Louisiana Department of Public Works, 1945), p. 16.
16. Lillard, op. cit., p. 79.
17. Charles Mohr, “Timber Pines of the Southern United
States,” Division of Forestry Bulletin 13 (Washington:
United States Department of Agriculture, 1897), p. 44.
18. C. S. Sargent, Report on the Forests of North America,
Except of Mexico, (Washington: Government Printing Office,
1884), p. 536.
19. Ibid., p. 486.
20. Ibid., p. 537.
21. Horn, op. cit., p. 104.
22. Mabel Brasher, Louisiana, A Study of the State (Atlanta:
Johnson Publishing Company, 1929), p. 97.
23. F. Moon and N.C. Brown, Elements of Forestry (New York:
John Wiley and Sons, 1937), p. 63.
24. Horn, op. cit., p.127.
25. W. W. Davis, “The Yellow-pine Lumber Industry in the
South,” Review of Reviews, XXIX (1904), 445.
26. Alcee Fortier, Louisiana (Century Historical Association,
1914), II, 107.
27. Foster, op. cit., p. 6.
28. Hartman, loc. cit.
29. Wahlenburg, op. cit., p. 17.
30. E. B. Cottingham, Sr. A History of Caldwell Parish,
Louisiana (Kelly, Louisiana: 1938), p. 53.
31. Davis, op. cit., p. 55.
32. Foster, op. cit., p. 1.
33. Cottingham, op. cit., p. 53.
34. Emerson, op. cit., p. 83.
35. Sargent, op. cit., p. 537.
36. Boyd, loc. cit.
38. J. G. Belisle, History of Sabine Parish (Many,
Louisiana: Sabine Banner Press, 1912), p. 260.
39. P. A. Bloomer, “Fisher, Louisiana, A Mill That Once Cut
Out, Now Plans to Run ‘From Now On.’” The Gulf Coast
40. Belisle, op. cit., p. 262.
41. J. M. Eyraud and D. J. Millet, A History of St. John the
Baptist Parish (Marrero, Louisiana: Hope Haven Press, 1938),
42. D. Bruce and C. A. Blackford, “Use of Fire in Natural
Regeneration of Longleaf Pine,” Journal of Forestry, XLVIII
43. Chapman, op. cit., p.121.
44. Kerr, loc. cit.
45. Calcasieu Parish, op. cit., p. 17.
46. Vernon Parish, op. cit., p. 17.
47. Moon, op. cit., p. 243.
48. Ibid., p. 281.
49. J. W. Cruikshank, “Forest Resources of Southwest
Louisiana,” Forest Survey Release No. 43 (New Orleans:
Southern Forest Experiment Station, 1949), p. 1.
50. J. H. Stone, C. F. Evans, and W. R. Hine, “Forestry on
Large Ownerships in the South,” Yearbook of Agriculture
(Washington: Government Printing Office, 1949), p. 281.
51. Cruikshank, op. cit., p. 2.
52. Ibid., p. 25.
53. The Shreveport (Louisiana) Times, February 21, 1953.
54. A. S. Boisfontaine, “The Small Mill - Its Awakening and
Development,” Journal of Forestry XXX (1937), p. 137.
55. I. F. Eldredge, “Sawmills in the Lower South,” Forest
Survey Release No. 25 (New Orleans: Southern Forest
Experiment Station, 1937), p. 2.
56. R. K. Winters, G. B. Ward, and I. F. Eldredge,
“Louisiana Forest Resources and Industries,” Miscellaneous
Publication No. 519 (Washington: United States Department of
Agriculture, 1943), p. 4.
57. Cruikshank, op. cit. p. 25.
1. F. B. Kniffen, “Louisiana House Types,” Annals of the
Association of American Geographers, XXVI (1936), pp.
179 - 193. The four house types mentioned above are described
in this quantitative and qualitative study of some elements
of the Louisiana landscape.
2. J. W. Taylor, “Southwest Louisiana - A Culturo-Geographic
Region,” Cultural Survey of Louisiana, (Final Status Report,
N 7 ONR 35606, 1951), unpublished, p. T - 17.
3. Ibid., p. T - 17.
4. Martin Wright, “The Hill Settlement of Louisiana,”
Cultural Survey of Louisiana, (Final Status Report, N 7 ONR
35606, 1951) unpublished p. w-2.
1. Boyd, op. cit., p. 28.
1. Boyd, op. cit., p. 28.
1. Boyd, op. cit., p. 28.
3. Curry Ford, “Bankers Talk, Practice Forestry,” Forests
and People, II (1952), 25.
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