The Old Neighborhood Sawmill And Log Carts

Thread starter #1

Redbow

Senior Member
Back when I was growing up on the farm there was one not very far from our house. Many communities had a small sawmill close by back in those days. I went over there at times with my Grandpa. He would hitch up the Mule and wagon and away we would go to get some of the first cuts that had the bark on them, the sawmill always had a big pile of those slabs and they gave them away to anyone who wanted or needed them...Many folks back then sawed them up for firewood.....Grandpa would pick out the ones he wanted load them on the wagon thank the sawmill man and away we would go. Grandpa repaired his hog fattening pens with the slabs as did many farmers in our area years ago. Some farmers even used those slabs to repair an old barn shelter that was about to fall apart.
Now days and for years all of the log is used nothing is wasted we used to have big hopper cars on the railroad loaded to the top with wood chips and I still see semi-trucks on the highway loaded with them headed for the plywood making plant or the paper mill...

I always liked the old sawmill and walked over there at times to watch it in operation. The men working and shouting to each other as they processed the logs into lumber. I loved to watch the big buzz saw cut the logs and sometimes wondered if anyone had ever been killed by the thing or badly injured. No doubt over the years someone probably had...They stacked the lumber in neat piles and then a big truck came, the lumber was stacked high on the truck, forms were signed and away the truck would go. I used to for some reason love the smell of the big truck tires in summer when they pulled in off the hot asphalt...

I remember my cousins decided to sell some of their timber on the farm back in the fifties. I would say about sixty percent of the farm I was raised on was in woods with some big fine pine timber, oak and other hardwoods.. The logging crew came they had gas powered chain saws I had never seen a chain saw in operation at that time.. It was amazing to me that a big pine tree could be felled so quickly compared to what we were used to which was an old cross cut saw, wedges and an ax.. They had Mules to snake the logs out of the woods so they could get the big log carts to them for hauling over to the sawmill.

I remember the log carts very well, I could not believe how large the wheels were on those thing's.. I stood and marveled at them many times while waiting for the men to pull a log out then load the cart with the log. Those poor ole Mules, they did some hard work back then at times I felt sorry for them as they strained to pull a heavy pine log out of the woods. The loggers stayed for a couple weeks and on a saturday some of the neighborhood boys and I got together and went down and climbed upon and played around the log carts.. We even tried to move one of the things a couple times but we couldn't do much with that, those old carts were very heavy. That gave us a good indication of just how strong the Mules were, they could pull the cart to the sawmill with a big log hanging beneath it..

Today everything is modernized with logging and I have not seen a log cart in many years. I hope some were saved from the scrap pile. I am sure there are lots of folks around today who have never seen a log cart or seen one in operation, they would more than likely be amazed by it, especially the size of the wheels..
 

Milkman

Retired Moderator
I remember there was a sawmill near where I grew up in Jackson County Ga.
It was similar to what you described. There was another larger one in adjoining Banks County. This operation also had a portable mill that they took and set up onsite. They set up one on my Grandmothers property in the early 60s. They cut her timber as well as some other adjoining tracts. They used tractors to drag the logs to the mill.
I was fascinated by that operation.
Thanks for reminding me !!!
 

specialk

Senior Member
there was one near my aunts house in a neighboring county that i couldn't see it but could hear them shaving boards off them long billits of wood....slow, monotonous, continuous sound just about all day long....... there was another near my house that went belly up years before i was born....folks that owned the land would let us come get sawdust for free....my folks used them for mulch around grannys flower garden....
 
Back in the hills, some people had what they called “ portable sawmills”. I was a small chap when I saw them, but I believe they ran off of the old “ hit or miss” engines. I remember my uncle and his wife cut timber down in the holler and snaked it up the hillside to the top of the ridge...just to make lumber to build their house. My aunt would chalk the logs so they wouldn’t roll off the side of the hill and take the team with them. The man with the sawmill kept his outfit near the good roads On top the ridge so it was easier when they moved it around. No one had money hardly, so work was swapped out. You don’t find people with that kinda grit anymore it seems.

I remember hog lots, pole barns and people using them slabs for house siding and firewood. Ahhh.... the good old days. Tough times made tough people.
 
Up here in the hills in the 20's and 30's, before the chestnut blight killed all the big trees, my Grandpap logged those hills with steers. He would get up real early on Monday morning, get together all the things my Granny had packed for him that week, and he would walk the steers to the sawmill. Back then they took the mill to the wood, not the wood to the mill.

Pap said that he had those steers trained, and he would lead them into where the men were logging, and then lead them to the sawmill. One time. After that, the steers would walk back to the loggers who would use dogs to anchor the chains into the logs. Then the steers would pull the logs out to Pap. He would stay at the mill, and undo the dogs, secure the chains and send them back for another load.

He would stay at the sawmill all week long, making his bed on the soft sawdust pile. After work on Friday, he would walk the steers back home and spend the weekend with his family. It was a hard life but with the depression going on, any work was good work.

Pap told me a story once about a log that got away from the steers, and broke the leg of one of his steers. With things in such short supply, the steer became fresh meat for a few meals. They couldn't afford to waste anything.

He told me that when the chestnuts were in bloom, the entire mountain would turn white. Said it looked like a young snow with all those blooms. Chestnuts raised my dad along with his brothers and sisters. Without those trees, most probably wouldn't have lived. Maybe that is one reason I am so interested in seeing the chestnuts re-established and flourishing in the mountains
 

trad bow

wooden stick slinging driveler
A lot of bandsaw mills around now. I know of several just in my county. A couple are portable and travel around the area sawing up wood. The old circular saw mills are disappearing from around here. Only one still operational and it is set up at a recreated homestead
 
Thread starter #8

Redbow

Senior Member
There was quite a large sawmill at the edge of the town where we always went for farm supplies and a few groceries that we couldn't raise on the farm. It was right beside the railroad where in later years I would make my living until retirement. That mill sawed a lot of trees into timber and employed a lot of the towns people...Then one day it suddenly went belly up never to operate again...

N. E. Georgia Pappy that was a great story about your Grandpa I enjoyed reading that as I do with all posts. I never saw anyone use steers or oxen for working purposes except when I was with the Army in Germany that was back in the middle sixties. The Germans still tended their fields and pulled carts and wagons with oxen just about every day. While driving the German highways we had to watch out for them go around a curve with a big Army truck and look out, brake hard there was comrade as we called them with his honey wagon and two oxen right in front of you..

My Grandpa often told me stories from the depression era also, and you are right nothing was ever wasted back then. My Grandpa could not stand waste nor my Grandma either. If you wanted a good verbal thrashing just let them see you waste something when I was growing up with them... It must have been hard on your Grandpa's family him being away all week but it was as you said, work and work was scarce in those days..

My Grandparents told me about the Chestnut trees also and the Black Walnut trees dying by the hundreds back long before I was born. My Aunt had a Black Walnut tree in her yard that somehow survived the carnage I think it still lives today but barely.

And yep most folks today would not have the grit to get out and work a sawmill the way it was done during the days of yesteryear. But let them get hungry and I bet people could find more grit than they ever thought they could possess for getting food.
 
Redbow, Pappy,

Both of you have brought back some really old memories for me as we lived out in the country and our neighbor and his brother owned a logging business together for most of their lives. One of these brothers lived next door to us and had also had a huge amount of property throughout Lincoln County. It was his property that this big area of the sawmill was actually set up in a pasture area.

The reason that they set it up on this property is that it belonged to one brother and they decided to cut the timber from parts of both of their properties scattered about which was within a 5 mile radius or so. This operation continued for about 2 years.

I remember my Father saying that the older brother had purchased property that was very near what became the Clark's Hill Lake long before the Savannah River was dammed up and the actual lake was created in 1951. He had purchased several hundred acres of "old growth" timber back in the early 1920's for only $2.00 per acre and when these trees were cut, they were HUGE super tall and straight trees. I remember my Father saying that this was the best timber that most anyone had ever seen harvested. The older brother became a very wealthy man after this occurred BUT he never spent his money as he was always tight-fisted because of hard upbringing. Of course, ultimately, these two brothers owned more property than most anyone else in Lincoln County and both of them were millionaires as a result.

They had about 20-25 black men that worked for them and about 10 of them would actually do the cutting of the trees with chain saws and then some guys would come in close with the mules and also some really large horses and hook up each log and drag them out of the woods out into an open area so that they could load them onto the trucks with a really old fork-lift type machine for taking them to the actual sawmill location. I remember watching these saws running like crazy and the HUGE sawdust pile that was already 30 feet tall just keep getting higher and higher as well. I knew most all of these workers and also their families and likewise, they all knew mine as we always had lots of conversations together. Some of them were older Fathers and some of their 25-30 year old Sons also worked there as well.

This was located in Lincoln County, Georgia and I spent lots of time watching them work either in the woods as such or actually cutting the logs into lumber and then loading on the trucks to transport it to McCormick, S.C. I was amazed at just how fast that the saws could cut several boards of various thicknesses and lengths etc. The guy that actually ran the main cutting saw at this sawmill kept his head on a swivel all of the time as he completed each log entirely. He also had to watch very closely to make sure that other workers had cleared everything out of the way in the area of the main saw carriage too.

Even back then, some of these employees were probably in their 60's and had worked most of their lives in this same type industry because there were basically no other job opportunities in these rural areas.

This old sawmill location was only about a half-mile away from our house. I remember that after these two brothers retired and shut down their partnership business, I used to walk over to this huge sawdust pile and crawl up on the top area and you could see for a long ways from that high location. One day, I crawled up on it and got my foot trapped in it as the decaying sawdust underneath collapsed apparently BUT thankfully I was not completely buried in it. After that day, I never went back to be anywhere around it. I was scared to say anything about it to my parents.

All of the above happenings with this sawmill time period was when I was between 10-15 years old I wouldn't trade anything for me being able to grow up out in the country.
 
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Interesting stories, my great granddad had a saw mill. He went to where the lumber was. He lost a son to the saw. He himself died in his 50's from logs falling on him near Waycross.

I've seen ox yokes but also the log carts with just two wheels. I've heard they used oxen, horses, and mules depending on the time or location.

 
Thread starter #12

Redbow

Senior Member
Interesting stories, my great granddad had a saw mill. He went to where the lumber was. He lost a son to the saw. He himself died in his 50's from logs falling on him near Waycross.

I've seen ox yokes but also the log carts with just two wheels. I've heard they used oxen, horses, and mules depending on the time or location.

Yeah the log carts I referred to were like the ones in the picture, two wheel carts.. Thanks..
 
Redbow, Pappy,

Both of you have brought back some really old memories for me as we lived out in the country and our neighbor and his brother owned a logging business together for most of their lives. One of these brothers lived next door to us and had also had a huge amount of property throughout Lincoln County. It was his property that this big area of the sawmill was actually set up in a pasture area.

The reason that they set it up on this property is that it belonged to one brother and they decided to cut the timber from parts of both of their properties scattered about which was within a 5 mile radius or so. This operation continued for about 2 years.

I remember my Father saying that the older brother had purchased property that was very near what became the Clark's Hill Lake long before the Savannah River was dammed up and the actual lake was created in 1951. He had purchased several hundred acres of "old growth" timber back in the early 1920's for only $2.00 per acre and when these trees were cut, they were HUGE super tall and straight trees. I remember my Father saying that this was the best timber that most anyone had ever seen harvested. The older brother became a very wealthy man after this occurred BUT he never spent his money as he was always tight-fisted because of hard upbringing. Of course, ultimately, these two brothers owned more property than most anyone else in Lincoln County and both of them were millionaires as a result.

They had about 20-25 black men that worked for them and about 10 of them would actually do the cutting of the trees with chain saws and then some guys would come in close with the mules and also some really large horses and hook up each log and drag them out of the woods out into an open area so that they could load them onto the trucks with a really old fork-lift type machine for taking them to the actual sawmill location. I remember watching these saws running like crazy and the HUGE sawdust pile that was already 30 feet tall just keep getting higher and higher as well. I knew most all of these workers and also their families and likewise, they all new mine as we always had lots of conversations together. Some of them were older Fathers and some of their 25-30 year old Sons also worked there as well.

This was located in Lincoln County, Georgia and I spent lots of time watching them work either in the woods as such or actually cutting the logs into lumber and then loading on the trucks to transport it to McCormick, S.C. I was amazed at just how fast that the saws could cut several boards of various thicknesses and lengths etc. The guy that actually ran the main cutting saw at this sawmill kept his head on a swivel all of the time as he completed each log entirely. He also had to watch very closely to make sure that other workers had cleared everything out of the way in the area of the main saw carriage too.

Even back then, some of these employees were probably in their 60's and had worked most of their lives in this same type industry because there were basically no other job opportunities in these rural areas.

This old sawmill location was only about a half-mile away from our house. I remember that after these two brothers retired and shut down their partnership business, I used to walk over to this huge sawdust pile and crawl up on the top area and you could see for a long ways from that high location. One day, I crawled up on it and got my foot trapped in it as the decaying sawdust underneath collapsed apparently BUT thankfully I was not completely buried in it. After that day, I never went back to be anywhere around it. I was scared to say anything about it to my parents.

All of the above happenings with this sawmill time period was when I was between 10-15 years old I wouldn't trade anything for me being able to grow up out in the country.
Back when I was a boy and bird hunted with Dad, we saw a lot of saw dust piles in the woods. My grandmother had one near her house and all us cousins would play on it. The grownups would fuss at us for coming inside with saw dust all over us.

I can remember that place in McCormick having a big band saw. It might still be there.
 
When I bought our house place here in Franklin County, it was 1983. On the back side of our property was an old pile of sawdust. It was probably 30 or 40ft across, and it had already gotten flattened out and rotted. There ain't no telling how many loads of sawdust I hauled out of there and put around flowers or spread over the garden spot and tilled it into the ground.

My Pap and an uncle got the job to clear the land to build the new hospital in Gainesville, Ga. in the late 40's or early 50's. I would have to ask my Dad to be sure of the year. Anyway, they loaded all the trucks with horses and dragged all the logs out with horses, then my uncle would drive the truck to the wood yard.

Pap said that one day my uncle was gone for a long time, and he got worried about him. Said he was gone and gone... When my uncle did show back up, he had an 8N tractor on the truck. They thought they were in heaven. They went from one horse power to 23 horsepower in one day
 
Thread starter #16

Redbow

Senior Member
I have wanted to see the Okefenokee Swamp all my life, I guess now at my age I never will. I used to work with two men who lived near that swamp and fished it often.
One of the men told me one day he and a fishing buddy of his went into the swamp to fish and got caught in a bad thunderstorm before they could get out. The man went on to say the lightning and hard rain was bad enough but then the Alligators started to bellow that made their encounter with the swamp and weather even more frightening.
 
I have wanted to see the Okefenokee Swamp all my life, I guess now at my age I never will. I used to work with two men who lived near that swamp and fished it often.
One of the men told me one day he and a fishing buddy of his went into the swamp to fish and got caught in a bad thunderstorm before they could get out. The man went on to say the lightning and hard rain was bad enough but then the Alligators started to bellow that made their encounter with the swamp and weather even more frightening.
go on down to the swamp Redbow. If you go to the Stephen C Foster state park, they have a tour that goes out in the evenings. They take you to the Suwanee River and point out different interesting things that you will see. It is well worth the charge.
 
Thread starter #18

Redbow

Senior Member
go on down to the swamp Redbow. If you go to the Stephen C Foster state park, they have a tour that goes out in the evenings. They take you to the Suwanee River and point out different interesting things that you will see. It is well worth the charge.
Thanks Pappy, but its quite a long drive for us to visit there. If we could go there and back in one day that would be fine we also need to stop and see some folks in SC where we used to live but I won't be able to pry the lid off my Wife with this covid-19 scare.. I agree us going would be well worth the trip, maybe one day before time runs out for me..
 

Milkman

Retired Moderator
Thanks Pappy, but its quite a long drive for us to visit there. If we could go there and back in one day that would be fine we also need to stop and see some folks in SC where we used to live but I won't be able to pry the lid off my Wife with this covid-19 scare.. I agree us going would be well worth the trip, maybe one day before time runs out for me..
Amtrak runs from your area to the Savannah area. A train ticket, a car rental, and a couple of nights in beautiful Waycross Ga could get you that boat ride Pappy mentioned. I have taken the boat tour also. It’s a good trip. I suggest the cooler months if you are considering it.
 
Amtrak runs from your area to the Savannah area. A train ticket, a car rental, and a couple of nights in beautiful Waycross Ga could get you that boat ride Pappy mentioned. I have taken the boat tour also. It’s a good trip. I suggest the cooler months if you are considering it.
I meant to mention the cooler months. Mid March is great. Those yellow flies will give you misery in late April or early May. Don't go then
 
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