The Central Coal & Coke Company owns and is now engaged in cutting one of the largest tracts of longleaf pine controlled by any one company in the south. This timber is located in the heart of the famous Calcasieu parish longleaf pine district, and the quality of logs now reaching the saw enables the company to furnish timbers and special bill stuff that can be excelled by none. In addition to its longleaf timber holdings, the company controls 170,000 acres of short-leaf pine in the western edge of the pine belt in Texas. It is estimated that there is sufficient timber on this tract to run the mammoth mill that has been constructed thereon for a period of at least twenty-five years. This gives the company a life of activity with respect to the time it can operate its mills that is equalled by few other southern operators.
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The first venture in the lumber business was made in the early ’90’s, when the plant of the Bowie Lumber Company, at Texarkana, Ark., was purchased. Shortly after the purchase of this mill the company began to improve its machinery, changing the circular to a band saw, and adding many other improved appliances for cutting and handling the product of the mill plant.
Following this, plans for the construction of a new mill were made and in August, 1893, the ground for a new saw mill plant was broken near Texarkana and the mill completed and put into operation by the first of the year following —1894. This is what might be fittingly termed the beginning of lumber manufacture by the Central Coal & Coke Company. Since that time the facilities for turning out high class lumber have been steadily increased.
A few years after the construction of the mill plant at Texarkana, a second saw mill equipped with planer and all other necessary facilities for caring for the product of the mill, was constructed at Keith, now known as Neame, La. At the time this mill was built, it was one of the most complete in the south in every respect. Time, however, brings improvements in all lines of commercial life, and in no particular have more changes been made in any one line than in the machinery for the production of lumber.
The plant that was once the admiration of the south, while suffering no deterioration except that which time brings to all humanly constructed machinery, has been overshadowed by a monster lumber milling plant which the company has been instrumental in erecting in the heart of the shortleaf yellow pine section of eastern central Texas. This is the plant of the Louisiana & Texas Lumber Company, one of the largest and most modernly equipped saw mill plants in the south.
The timber supply for the Texarkana saw mill became exhausted during the present year, and the company secured a large tract of longleaf pine land in Louisiana, a short distance below Neame, and arrangements are now being completed for moving it to that place.