The sawmill plant of The Frost Lumber Industries at Jasper, Texas, is another living illustration of the fact that the life of a Southern sawmill is indeterminable. The builders of that original plant cut their last log in 1923, considered the region denuded of timber, and shut down. Frost has had some timber in that section for some time, both Pine and hardwood, so they bought the mill and started operating it. Now, seventeen years later, they are modernizing, improving, enlarging, and changing the Jasper plant from end to end, getting ready to run "from now on" as the colored brother said.
Some of the things they are doing at Jasper have never been done before, and therefore have an added news value. Here's the story. Until just a couple of years ago the Jasper plant was badly scattered and strung out. Then, step by step Hubert Deal, the popular manager, went to work to make it otherwise. The work isn't all done yet, but today sees a huge change in the entire plant. The biggest change is in the sawmill itself. It is there that something new is being done, as stated.
The sawmill is equipped with a heavy-duty band headrig and a big resaw. It cuts both pine and hardwood, alternately. At the entrance to the sawmill there is a big pond where the Pine logs are stored. Right alongside there is a "dry pond" where they pile high the hardwood logs, and load them on the "bull chain" with a steam derrick. When the mill is cutting on hardwoods, the Pine production stands still. So an idea came to Hubert Deal, the general office gave it the go ahead signal, and they built it. They built a small but thoroughly modern and efficient Pine sawmill at the opposite end of the big sawmill from the band headrig. Where the timber dock formerly stood they put the new sawmill, on the same level as the rest of the mill. (Note the pictures.)
The circular mill cuts only Pine. They unload the logs on skids, thence onto a cable car that is pulled up an incline to the mill level, where the logs go onto a moving log deck that takes them sidewise to the carriage. As the circular converts the logs into lumber, the stock is carried by live rolls into the main sawmill past the big edger, where it is shunted over to the edger, and joins the lumber coming from the band and resaw in the main mill. From here on the product of the new circular mill simply joins the product of the main mill, going through edger, trimmer, and kilns, and out to the sheds and planer. But now, while the big sawmill cuts Pine only part of the time, the new circular sawmill will cut it all the time, giving the plant a continual Pine supply.
The machinery and equipment for the new circular mill, including headrig, carriage, etc., were manufactured and installed by the Cunningham Machinery Corporation, of Shreveport, La. This is the first installation of this sort this concern has ever made, and they expect it to become a popular innovation.
All the Pine product of the Jasper plant goes through the steam dry kilns. A steadily increasing percentage of their hardwood product has been going through the kilns, also, until now they kiln dry fully 60 per cent of their hardwood lumber, which goes to the yard for 90 or more days before going to the kilns. Also they are putting more and more of their hardwood product through the planing mill.. Their production of remanufactured stock is increasing steadily. They have installed in the planer a new machine for making pointed stock. One corner of the planer is equipped to cut and fit crating stock which they ship in knock-down form. They do a nice business in gum strips with glued joints for use in making upholstered furniture. Beech blocks for brush racks are one of their specialties, and likewise Black Gum drawer sides.
They have just completed a new shipping office on the mill proper, the most attractive shipping office THE GULF COAST LUMBERMAN camera man has ever seen. The front office opens on a railing attractively fronted with figured Red Gum, while the walls and ceilings of the front office are covered with Magnolia paneling. The contrasted black and white of the Magnolia is very attractive. The back room of the two-room shipping office is all done in Yellow Pine. W. H. Minton is shipping clerk at Jasper.
At one end of the milling plant and on the main highway that runs north and south through Jasper, they have constructed two new and very attractive buildings. One is their commissary, or general store, a model of modern retail stores.
The second is the new office building. They made it their business to so decorate the interior of the new office as to demonstrate how well and attractively, as well as differently, modern hardwoods can be used for interior finishing at modest cost. As you enter the new office you are confronted with a railing that is fronted with Pecky Cypress. The Cypress is stained with white paint, rubbed in, and excites the admiration of all visitors. The walls of this front office and workroom are covered with Pecky Cypress also, the walls with a white paint rubbed into the cracks, and the ceiling with a green paint effect. It is one of the most unusual looking wall jobs ever constructed. It is all solid paneling.
The private office of Hubert Deal is a very handsome one, the walls and ceiling being done in solid Oak panels, the windows protected by Venetian blinds, and the flooring of attractive Oak.
The various major improvements that have been noted in this story of the Jasper plant are not the only ones being made. Step by step Mr. Deal is rebuilding and modernizing and painting all their properties at Jasper. They are very proud of the improvements already made, and preparing for others yet to come.
E. A. Frost, of Shreveport, is president and financial head of Frost Lumber Industries, owner of the Jasper properties. John L. Avery is general sales manager.