Huie-Hodge Lumber Company at Hodge, Louisiana, in 1909; excerpts from the American Lumberman magazine.  
  Source: “Huie-Hodge Lumber Co., Ltd.,” American Lumberman, May 8, 1909. Chicago: American Lumberman, 1909. pp. 68-83.

In all that has been said and written about various sections of the shortleaf pine district the term "Arkansas Shortleaf” has figured prominently, and so well known are the characteristics and most important uses of the magnificent shortleaf timber of Arkansas that little of value could be added to the literature of that subject. The term itself, however, is not accurately descriptive, for the reason that shortleaf timber of the variety which it is most commonly used to describe is by no means confined to the borders of Arkansas. An immense area of this timber did not come to the serious consideration of lumbermen until eight or nine years ago and by that time the Arkansas field had been developed to a considerable extent. Northwestern Louisiana, growing the same timber, was long handicapped by lack of railroad facilities which, considering the distance to large markets, were vitally important to the development of its timber resources. The first lumbermen to go into that region with a view of initiating manufacturing operations found that the shortleaf timber belt continued through Arkansas south well toward the middle of Louisiana, and that some of the available timber in the northwestern part of that state was of exceptionally fine character, running to an unusually large percentage of upper grade lumber. They found also that beginning with the east and west line represented by the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific railway (the Queen & Crescent system), and going southward, the percentage of longleaf timber intermixed gradually increases.

A few lumbermen, who a few years ago became acquainted with the possibilities of northwestern Louisiana from a manufacturing standpoint, were able to get in on the ground floor and secure some of this good timber long after most of the nearby territory was well taken up, and thus several institutions, which are considered pioneers in the lumber operations of the northwestern parishes of the state, are but a few years old. The first of the operators in that section secured their pick of as good timber as can be found in the south, paid but a fraction of today's price for it, and settled down to the business of making lumber at exceptionally low cost. By their efforts the territory has been well developed, until now it affords unusual advantages. Railroad facilities are adequate, labor conditions are far better than in most of the southern fields, and a ready market has been found for the manufactured product of the increasingly popular and highly satisfactory Louisiana shortleaf alongside its worthy competitor from Arkansas.

The north and middle western portions of Louisiana were first opened to the lumbermen by the construction of the line of the Arkansas Southern Railroad Company, which originally catered especially to lumbering interests, but later came under the control of the Rock Island system, and since has been extended and improved, until now it offers through freight and passenger service between Eunice, La., where it connects with the Colorado Southern & Texas Pacific, and Little Rock, Ark., intersecting at various points the Queen & Crescent, Cotton Belt, Iron Mountain, Southern Pacific, Texas Pacific and Louisiana & Arkansas systems. The construction and improvement of this road was of great importance to all of the territory which it serves, but particularly to that portion lying immediately south and north of Ruston, La., the intersection of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific and the Queen & Creseent roads. Its completion enabled a few progressive lumbermen to accomplish big things, and it is with some of the results of the opening of northwestern Louisiana to lumbering operations that this article has to deal.

  Timber of Northwestern Louisiana.  

From the standpoint of the dendrologist, northwestern Louisiana offers an interesting field for study. There are found longleaf and shortleaf yellow pine in varying proportions, depending upon local conditions and the distance from the Gulf, with an admixture of a hybrid timber showing some of the characteristics of both, and as well a considerable stand of white oak, gum and cypress. Of course from the lumbering standpoint this territory must be classified as shortleaf, since that class of timber predominates, but the mixture of other woods increases as the center line of the state is approached, while the northernmost limit of longleaf growth is fixed at a line practically parallel with the Queen & Crescent railroad. The mills not far south of that line, therefore, are in position to manufacture both classes of yellow pine, and it can truthfully be said that none of their timber is in the slightest degree the inferior of that owned by their neighbors either north or south.

Back in 1900 the possibilities of this territory came to the attention of a number of young lumbermen, who in one way or another had been connected with lumbering operations in that vicinity, among whom was Otis E. Hodge, formerly associated with the Arkadelphia Lumber Company, operating at Arkadelphia, Ark. Mr. Hodge was then as he is today a thorough lumberman, having learned the rudiments of the business at the plant of the Dry Run Lumber Company, at Dry Run, Ark., and in the mill of the Eagle Lumber Company, located on the Cotton Belt system in Arkansas. He made up his mind that an unusually advantageous opening could be had by someone who was financially able to go in and buy some of the good shortleaf in the neighborhood of Jackson and Bienville parishes, and undertook to organize a company for that purpose. He found, however, that the undertaking was a large one from a financial standpoint and that he would have to interest others in order to swing it. So confident was he of the ultimate success of a business such as he proposed to establish that he was able to interest some of the wealthy lumbermen of that part of Louisiana, and accordingly the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company, Limited, was organized, the original incorporators being Otis E. Hodge, Robert W. Huie, Charles E. Neeley, W. Dona Huie, John S. Hunt and William L. Huie. The charter was issued February 25, 1901, and the company proceeded at once to the erection of a plant at Hodge, where its general office is now located. This station is about sixteen miles south of Ruston, and about two miles north of Jonesboro. The plant as then built was comparatively small, but began active operation at once and manufacture has been going on almost continuously at Hodge since that time, except when repairs were being made, and during the time consumed in putting in new mill equipment in 1907.

  Unique History of the Organization.  

One of the unique pages of lumber history is framed by the records of some of the men who have been connected with the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company at various times since its organization. It is hardly probable that a parallel could be found for the case of two men who participated in the organization of a company and a third who was in its employ leaving the service of that organization for a period of years, and then coining back and taking up their work together as if no interruption had occurred. This all comes about through the fact that Mr. Hodge and Mr. Hunt in 1903 sold their interests and holdings of stock to the Huies and, as they supposed at the time, retired permanently from the business. That retirement did not last, however, for in 1906 Mr. Hodge bought the business back, taking Mr. Hunt in with him in the reorganization, and also associating with himself the present secretary of the company, J. B. Baker, who had been in its employ from the time of its inception until Mr. Hodge’s retirement. Thus, in 1906, three former associates found themselves back at the scene of their first large business venture.

The first thing to be done upon regaining control of the business was to effect a complete reorganization, improve the facilities at the mill and increase the holdings of timber, and these things were done as rapidly as circumstances would permit, until today one may find at Hodge one of the interesting and important plants of the shortleaf district—a place where lumber is manufactured under systematic methods of logging, transportation and manufacture at a minimum of cost for the best possible grade of output.

Before going into the details of a description of the plant of the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company, which at the present time consists of three mills, instead of the one with which it started, it would be well to understand some of the more salient features of this business, which has grown so rapidly in the last three or four years, and in order to gain an idea of these distinguishing points a brief sketch of the personnel of the company is necessary.

As has been stated, Otis E. Hodge is general manager of the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company, and is at present the largest stockholder, but does not hold any executive office in the corporation. Mr. Hodge is characterized by those in the vicinity of his home who know him best as a man who, although young, has most unusual ability in the matter of finding good business prospects and developing them. His business record is ample proof of the justness of this summary, since he has made for himself whatever of worldly goods he now possesses, and this money has been made largely in the conduct of lumber enterprises at various points, all of which have shown the solidity of the foundation laid for them by him. In other words, Mr. Hodge has no one but himself to thank for his success, all of which goes to prove that he knows the lumber business in all its departments.

Under the present policy of the company Mr. Hodge exercises general supervision over air the departments of the business, with special attention to the financial side. He has associated with himself some men, than whom none could be found more capable of handling the details of manufacture, sales etc. with due regard for the pitfalls which are ever in the way of the success of any enterprise, and particularly a yellow pine manufacturing institution.

The secretary of the company is James B. Baker, who for a number of years has been associated with Mr. Hodge. Mr. Baker exercises general supervision over all of the branches of manufacture, and he is the man upon whom the company depends for the production of lumber at reasonable cost, the maintenance of grades, the best possible use of the timber etc. Mr. Baker has a better fund of information about this business than most men operating on one-tenth the scale would be able to accumulate, and this is reinforced by a wonderful memory for details, insuring the retention of the vast amount of information he acquires by coming daily in touch with every phase of the woods work, railroads construction and operation, and milling. Mr. Baker’s efficiency is demonstrated by the unquestioned fact that under his supervision the company is making lumber, fully up to grade in every respect, at a less cost than many of its competitors are able to show. This is accomplished by systematizing the work thoroughly and by increasing to the highest pitch the intelligence and efficiency of the working force.

But a moment’s consideration is necessary to convince anyone that with a payroll of more than 500 men, it is no mean task to so order things that every man’s work will be directed to the best advantage and that no worker will find .it possible to shirk and thereby throw a portion of his burden upon his fellow employee. This is accomplished, however, with little apparent effort, quietly yet so thoroughly that the entire organization works with the precision of a machine, and the labor troubles which are common to lumber operations in the south are conspicuous by their absence. Some of the means employed in bringing about these results will be treated under another head.

  An Effective Sales Organization.  
To handle the sales of the output of three mills, including both yellow pine and hardwoods, and aggregating in the neighborhood of 200,000 feet a day, most lumbermen would say that a sales office located in some largo market would be a necessity, and so it would in most instances. Hence the sales department of the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company, located with the company’s other offices at Hodge, is another phase of the business that is deserving of attention. This important branch of the business, under the direction of J. T. Holloway, moves the company’s entire output direct from the mill, with the assistance of two salesmen. This is a surprising economy, and means that this concern can undersell most manufacturers and still retain au average profit. Mr. Holloway has had a varied experience in the lumber business, but most of it in the sales department. He began his career with the Arkadelphia Lumber Company, at Arkadelphia, Ark., in 1889, and worked for that concern in various capacities until 1894, when he went to Cargile, Ark., in the employ of the South Arkansas Lumber Company, in the capacity of assistant bookkeeper. That company maintained a sales office at St. Louis, and in 1897 Mr. Holloway was transferred there, keeping the books at the sales office until 1900, when he became manager of the sales department, which position he retained until 1905. In that year he went to Mississippi as manager of the Hattiesburg Lumber Company, leaving its employ in 1907 to become sales manager of the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company. At that time Mr. Hodge was engaged in rebuilding the entire organization, and, after outlining the general policy to be pursued, he placed Mr. Holloway in charge of sales with instructions to place that department on a more businesslike basis. Since taking charge of the company’s sales Mr. Holloway has developed a well defined policy. The first thing done was to clean up the yard and decide just what should constitute a normal stock of each grade and since Mr. Holloway perfected his sales arrangements the company has not permitted a large over-accumulation of any one kind of lumber, and the aim of the sales department is to move each grade in its proper proportions, thus at all times maintaining a nicely balanced stock. This policy, while presenting difficulties in the way of accomplishment, has been closely adhered to and is found to have many advantages. It is particularly beneficial to the retail buyer, assuring him reasonably uniform service at all times.
  Officers of the Company.  

The president of the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company is a man of prominence not only in lumber but in financial circles as well. John M. Brown is a resident of Junction City, La. He is president of the Citizens ’ Bank, of Junction City, and a heavy stockholder in the Cornie Stave Company, of Cornie, Ark., in addition to which he possesses extensive timber holdings in Texas. He has been engaged in lumbering in one form or another for nearly twenty years, and was the builder of the old mill of the Brown Lumber Company at Shamrock, La., now owned and operated by the Colonial Timber & Lumber Company, of St. Louis, Mo.

The personal history of John S. Hunt, vice president of the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company, is closely linked with Mr. Hodge’s business career. He entered the lumber business in the capacity of a car loader for the Arkadelphia Lumber Company in 1897, and worked at the mill for four years, having been promoted to the position of shipping clerk when he left and joined with Mr. Hodge in the organization of the Huie-Hodge concern. When the latter business changed hands Mr. Hodge and Mr. Hunt went to Calvin, La., where they put in a small saw mill and operated for about two years, under the style of Hodge & Hunt. That business was finally closed out and the partners went to Bokhoma, Indian Territory, and in 1903 built a band mill which they operated under the same firm name. When they sold their business in the territory Mr. Hunt became general manager for the Sulphur Timber & Lumber Company, operating a plant at Winnfield, La. He remained in that position until arrangements were perfected for the reorganization of the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company, Limited, under the management of Mr. Hodge, resuming his connection with the company in December, 1906. Mr. Hunt is superintendent of the company’s recently acquired mill at Bienville, La.

All officers of the company, as has been shown, are practical lumbermen with an intimate knowledge of the business in the shortleaf belt, with one exception. Treasurer Ben F. Thompson is a wholesale grocer who has stores in Alexandria, Ruston and Camden. He is a man of such business soundness as to well adapt him for financial office in a concern of this character.

J. E. Crane, who holds the title of head timberman, is a stockholder in the company, and a lumberman of many years experience. Mr. Crane has entire charge of the timber department.

Since December, 1906, the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company has spent much time, money and energy in improving its facilities, and extending its timber holdings to prolong the life of the business and justify the investment of considerable money in the betterment of the plants. It possesses an unexcelled tract of timber and has a sound and certain business, which is dependent only upon good manufacture. Every effort is therefore bent toward making as good lumber as it is possible to get out of the log. As has been said before, the employees in all departments of the business show a high standard of efficiency.

  Conditions at Hodge, La.  

Hodge is noteworthy for the absence of friction which usually exists among the different elements in a mill town, and the company’s work is conducted with the utmost regularity. This in large measure is due to the measures taken for the general, religious and moral training of the company’s employees. Mr. Hodge is a firm believer in the theory that the morale of the employees of any business is largely what it is made by environment and conditions under which men work. He believes, of course, that it is wise to hire the best men when they can be had, but long experience in the business has taught him that even these will not show the highest efficiency unless they are entirely satisfied with the treatment they receive from their employer and the conditions surrounding them. The company has therefore seen to it that the proper educational and other facilities are maintained, so that the families of employees have just as good an opportunity for a common school education as they would in a larger place. The Hodge school, under the direction of a principal and assistant, has forty-five pupils enrolled. The majority of the dwellings are owned by the company, and are well constructed and. roomy. Several employees, however, own their homes. The company has constructed a church, a lodge hall where the Woodmen hold regular meetings and a number of small store buildings in addition to the commissary, also operating a commodious hotel which takes care of a considerable transient trade in addition to furnishing accommodations for those of the employees who, not having families, are not assigned to company houses. This hotel differs from most of its kind, in that the food served to all alike is such that traveling men and other transients are entirely satisfied with the accommodations they get, a test supreme. The commissary at Hodge carries a stock of general merchandise averaging about $14,000 in value. Its annual sales amount to approximately $55,000. The company employs an able physician and surgeon, who attends to the medical needs of the population.

  Location of the Properties.  

Reference to the map which accompanies this article will aid in a better understanding of the situation of the properties and the location of the timber owned by the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company, Limited. The largest of the three mills is located at Hodge, on the Choctaw division of the Rock Island road, with the greater part of the timber lying west of it. This mill is engaged in cutting shortleaf almost exclusively, handling no hardwoods and a small percentage of longleaf. Very little dimension lumber is produced at Hodge, this class of stock not exceeding 10 percent of the whole. The bulk of the output consists of edge grain flooring, in which the company specializes, this amounting to about 18 percent of the total, and the balance flat grain flooring, ceiling, finish and boards.

All of the hardwoods logged go to the hardwood mill located at Danville, La., about ten miles west of Hodge, on the North Louisiana & Gulf railroad, a common carrier road the stock of which is largely owned by the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company, Limited. At this point is another town, similar to Hodge, though on a smaller scale, where good living accommodations are furnished employees. A commissary carrying a large stock is operated at this point, and the company has also provided school and church buildings. Danville is convenient to a considerable farming district, and the commissary business at that point has been developed to generous proportions by catering to the wants of the nearby country trade.

At Bienville, which soon will be the terminus of the North Louisiana & Gulf road, is the third mill, recently acquired by the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company from the Richardson-Taylor interests.

  Improved Railroad Facilities.  

The purchase of the Bienville plant, making possible the completion of the North Louisiana & Gulf railroad through to that point where it will connect with the Louisiana & Northwestern railroad and thus with the Queen & Crescent and Cotton Belt systems, gives the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company, Limited, many advantages which it has not heretofore enjoyed. Even with the service of the Rock Island road as its only outlet the company has never had much trouble in getting an adequate supply of cars and prompt movement of loads, but as every saw mill man knows, a competitive point has every advantage over a location which is entirely dependent upon one road for service. Another thing to be considered is the fact that the territory in which the company owns timber, in Jackson and Bienville parishes, offers the best of inducements to the farmer, and has needed only one thing to aid in its development—good railroad facilities. With a full appreciation of the importance of developing the country tributary to its line, the North Louisiana & Gulf is laying its steel in such shape that it will not have to be entirely overhauled to handle general traffic. The roadbed of the main line is laid with heavy rail, well ballasted and wholly unlike the average logging railroad.

The North Louisiana & Gulf Railroad Company, while a separate corporation, is officered by the same men as the lumber company. It holds itself out as a common carrier, however, and makes the customary reports to the state railroad commission and the Interstate Commerce Commission. As soon as the steel is laid and traffic begins between Hodge and Bienville this line will be apt to do a heavy general freight business in addition to hauling the products of the Huie-Hodge mills. The main line is 23.2 miles long and about ten miles of spurs are in use. The track is always laid in advance of logging operations, so that logs do not lie for an indefinite period on the right of way waiting for the steel gang. This method of handling the woods work is found more economical than the one commonly employed in the south, and involves no additional expense. The carrying equipment of the railroad consists of fifty-four skeleton ears, which were constructed in the company’s own car shops; eight flat cars, nine box cars and one passenger car. Ample motive power is provided by three rod engines and two Shay geared locomotives. A Fairbanks-Morse gasoline car is used for inspection purposes etc. The work of loading is carried on with the assistance of one log loader manufactured by the American Hoist & Derrick Company and one Rapid loader. These machines, while operated by the railroad company are the property of the lumber company. Twenty-eight camp cars are used to house the logging crews.

The timber of Jackson and Bienville parishes is of an unusually fine character, which in a measure accounts for the high percentage of edge grain produced by these mills. The woods work is interesting, particularly because of the percentage of large logs handled and the rapidity with which it is accomplished. The track gang and the woods crew work hand in hand, and it is no uncommon thing for these people to cut 50,000 feet of timber, lay the steel, convey it to the mill and have it on sticks the same day. Some of the illustrations presented in connection with this article give a fair idea of the dimensions of logs frequently taken from this exceptionally fine tract of shortleaf, and the handling of these large logs is attended with considerable difficulty. The loaders usually handle them one end at a time and four or five of them are enough for a good sized load.

  Woods Work.  
This branch of the work is under the direction of W. T. Howell, superintendent of the Howell Logging Company, a separate corporation, one half of the stock of which is owned by the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company, Limited, and Mr. Howell usually has his hands full. No attempt is made to keep a large reserve supply of logs at the mills, and the log trains must make the usual two trips a day to Hodge and one or two trips to Danville in order that the plants may not have to shut down. The responsibility for this work rests upon Mr. Howell and his crews and he frequently has woods crews at work several miles apart. The company maintains telephone lines through its holdings, however, so that he is seldom out of communication with his men, and unless the proportion of hardwood in the cuttings is unusually light, compelling the hardwood mill to suspend for a day occasionally, the log supply is never irregular. This work goes on throughout the year, some logs being banked during the winter.
  Ample Timber Supply.

The Huie-Hodge Lumber Company, Limited, owns the timber on 73,280 acres of land, mostly in fee, and it is estimated that this tract will cut at least 300,000,000 feet. The timber is in a compact area and it will be seen from these figures that the company has enough to keep its mills busy for a good many years; in fact, Mr. Hodge is authority for the statement that the present holdings, if the company should acquire no additional timber, would keep the operation going for at least fifteen years. The general policy of this business, however, is one of expansion, and it is altogether probable that the company will add to its interests from time to time as opportunities arise. In fact there is a quantity of timber adjacent to the present holdings which logically must come to the Huie-Hodge mills for manufacture, as a matter of economy, and in addition to the extended life this would give to the present business the officers of the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company have developed an interest in practical forestry; that is forestry of the sort that will pay the owner of cutover timber lands and the manufacturer. Accordingly experiments have been undertaken to determine just how long it will take and what it will cost to grow shortleaf pine of commercial value. It is too early to predict what the outcome of these tests will be, but an examination of the land cut over six or eight years ago shows that the second growth is coming up rapidly and some of it should be ready for the ax in twenty years.

So much for the personnel of the company and its properties. Having gained a fair conception of the general location of the operation and the raw material which the company has to work with, the actual process of manufacture is the next feature of importance. As has already been stated, when the ox teams and loaders have placed the logs at the disposition of the train crews they are rushed to the mills, pine going to Hodge and Bienville and hardwoods to Danville. It will be best to consider the mill equipment at these three points separately, and naturally the largest and most important, Hodge, comes first.

  The Plant at Hodge, La.  

The North Louisiana & Gulf railroad, crossing the tracks of the Rock Island just north of the latter’s station at Hodge, brings the logs in on a spur just north of the mill and running alongside the log pond. This log pond has a capacity of only about 200,000 feet, but the amount of storage track is ample to accommodate several trains, so that about four days’ supply of logs can be kept on hand when desired. The logs are conveyed from the pond to the mill by the usual chain conveyor, provided with automatic stop, and kicked to the log deck by a steam kicker which sends them on their way to the band mill. This is of the single cutting type, with 11-inch shotgun feed, hand set works and nigger of the same make. About one log in every five is cut up by the band, the balance being cut to cants and conveyed to the gangsaw. This machine, manufactured by the Wilkin-Challoner Company, of Oshkosh, Wis., has forty-two saws, taking two ordinary logs at a time, and it produces the bulk of the output. The gang keeps the band busy enough so that the company does not care to cut much dimension at this plant and practically no timbers are hut at Hodge, all of this business going to the Bienville plant. This class of work would be apt to block the mill. The additional mill machinery consists of a double edger and overhead trimmer, with the usual live rolls etc. In the saw mill building is also housed the lath mill, which has a capacity of 25,000 pieces a day of No. 1 lath. No No. 2 lath are manufactured. The combined capacity of the band and gang is about 100,000 feet in eleven hours.

All of the saw mill and power machinery was furnished by the Filer & Stowell Company, of Milwaukee, Wis.

The saw mill building is constructed of cypress with a view to durability, and rests on concrete foundations.

The filing room, which is located in the center of the saw mill, is equipped with all necessary machinery, manufactured by the Covel Manufacturing Company and installed by the Filer & Stowell Company. The machines include gang, band and circular saw grinders, with rollers, toothers and brazers.

Upon being conveyed to the sorters the lumber immediately goes upon buggies for conveyance to the planing mill or yard, and from the time the log enters the mill until the finished board is loaded into a car it does not touch the floor or ground.

The planing mill was built in 1904 and is equipped with modern machinery throughout, giving it a capacity of about 125,000 feet a day. As the company has an unusual demand for edge grain flooring two high speed S. A. Woods planers and matchers are devoted entirely to this product. In addition the planing mill is equipped with one 15-inch Woods molder, one 20-inch Woods fast feed planer, one 7-inch Woods flooring machine, one 30-inch Hall & Brown sizer, and two 15-inch and one 9-inch Hall & Brown planers and matchers. The saw equipment consists of one Hall & Brown circular ripsaw and a circular resaw of the same make. Each machine is equipped with a swinging overhead cutoff saw.

  Power Plants.  

The saw mill gets its power from a 24 by 30-inch Filer & Stowell heavy duty engine installed on a concrete foundation in a brick building separated from the saw mill. A Union Iron Works clutch acting on the mainshaft drives the gang.

The power for the planing mill is furnished by a 20 by 24 Erie Iron Works engine.

Four Houston, Stanwood & Gamble boilers capable of furnishing about 800 horsepower operate the power plants and furnish the steam for the dry kilns. Two of these are equipped with Gordon hollow blast grates.

Electric light for the mill, hotel, stores and a considerable portion of the town is furnished by a Commercial Electric Company 220-volt, 80-ampere dynamo, operated by a 10x12 high speed engine.

The water supply for the mill comes from a deep well, with a reserve supply in the form of a reservoir nearby about 6 acres in extent. A 23,000-gallon tank furnishes ample pressure for fire protection, and is reinforced by a standard Underwriters’ fire pump and 8-inch water mains surrounding the entire plant.

Unusual measures are taken to protect this mill from fire loss which so frequently results from the collection of fine dust on the walls of a saw mill house. This dust is largely solidified turpentine and it is highly inflammable, and in order to eliminate the danger of an explosive fire from this source the interior walls are gone over at regular intervals and all dust removed by the use of compressed air. Every possible effort is made to keep the premises free from refuse and all inflammable matter which should not be allowed to. accumulate.

  Drying Facilities at Hodge.  

With the completion of two dry kilns now under construction the Hodge plant will have a 5-room dry house, of Standard construction, with a daily capacity of 70,000 feet. These rooms are 22 by 104 feet, the new kilns being uniform with those put up in 1904.

The machine and car shops contain complete equipment for the repair and overhauling of all classes of machinery employed around the plant, including the locomotives and log loaders. All parts of the logging cars are turned out here with the exception of the wheels and axles.

  Methodical Handling of Stock.

One of the most important things to be considered in judging the merits of a lumber manufacturing enterprise is the method of handling the manufactured product in the yard and sheds. Here is found one of the features of the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company’s plant at Hodge which is well worth more than casual mention, and for that matter the same thing is true of the other two mills. In the place of the disorderly appearance which usually meets the eye back of a saw mill everything is placed with the precision which might characterize a model retail yard on an immense scale. In the first place the shed room is adequate and is utilized to the best possible advantage. Three sheds furnish storage for rough lumber, with two more for dressed stock. The aggregate area of the rough sheds is approximately 26,800 square feet, allowing space for 2,000,000 feet. The dressed lumber sheds measure 10,900 square feet in area and furnish room for about 1,300,000 feet of lumber. As was stated before, all lumber going in and out of the kilns and to pile, either in the yard or sheds, is handled on trucks, and the piling is done with a nicety that would delight an architect, the whole presenting a most orderly and tidy appearance. The only stock which is not in its place at any time is that standing on buggies at the sorting shed and that is disposed of as fast as the trucks are loaded. The result of this policy shows in the clean looking stock seen upon the loading platform, and customers have little opportunity to make any sort of complaint based upon bad handling in the yard.

The company has loading facilities on its own railroad as well as on the Rock Island switch in front of the mill which parallels the main line of that road. The loading platform on the Rock Island is 720 feet long and will accommodate eighteen cars at a time, while the siding has a capacity of twenty-eight cars. In addition eight ears can be accommodated on the loading track of the North Louisiana & Gulf.

  The Mill at Danville, La.

The Danville mill is equipped with a single circular saw capable of cutting about 25,000 feet of hardwoods a day. Oak ties and timbers constitute a considerable portion of this output and the demand from railroad and other sources is sufficient to take care of the hardwood cut almost in advance of the mill. The only auxiliary machinery employed is a chair stock machine. Danville serves as headquarters for the railroad work and the loader crews, and is directly connected by telephone with Hodge.

  The Bienville Mill.  

The recently acquired Bienville mill of the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company, Limited, is located at Bienville on the Louisiana & Northwestern railroad about fifteen miles south of the Queen & Crescent road. This plant was built about three years ago by the Richardson-Taylor interests and is uptodate in every respect. The saw mill equipment consists of a single circular with a capacity of 50,000 feet in ten hours. Logging operations at Bienville were formerly conducted over the Bienville & Quitman railroad, now a part of the North Louisiana & Gulf. The log pond at Bienville has a capacity of 200,000 feet and the railroad terminal affords storage facilities for several days’ supply of logs. The saw mill is well equipped with auxiliary machinery, including edgers, trimmers etc. The property at Bienville also includes a modern planing mill, the equipment of which consists of three recent model planers and the usual auxiliary machinery. The 2-room standard dry kiln at Bienville will accommodate 35,000 feet of stock daily. The equipment of this plant is such that a larger, proportion of dimension lumber can be manufactured here and all orders of this character will be handled by the new mill.

The location of Bienville on the Louisiana & Northwestern, connecting with the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific railroad, and the completion of the North Louisiana & Gulf line between Hodge and Bienville will give the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company a choice of a number of routes in shipping from any of its plants. Lumber from Bienville can go via Hodge and the Rock Island, while on the other hand lumber from Hodge can be shipped via the North Louisiana & Gulf and Louisiana Northwestern, Queen & Crescent, Cotton Belt or Texas & Pacific systems. This will open up to direct shipment some territory south of Bienville which has heretofore represented a long haul from the Hodge plant and by means of its location on the line of the Louisiana & Northwestern the company will enjoy a better rate to Ohio river crossings than has heretofore been open to it and thereby will be enabled to increase its shipments into Kentucky territory.

  Close Adherence to the Retail Trade.  

The Huie-Hodge Lumber Company is shipping to a wide range of territory, but probably sticks closer to the retail trade than one mill in twenty. This is the class of business desired, especially because the retail demand fits in nicely with the class of lumber produced by the big gang saw at Hodge.

The work of moving the company's output devolves upon the sales department at Hodge, and it has the assistance of two able traveling salesmen who are well known to the retail trade in their respective territories. J. D. Hibbetts, who makes his headquarters at Oklahoma City, Okla., travels in central and western Oklahoma, and southern Kansas. Edgar Freeman, the other salesman, lives at Joplin, Mo. He covers southwestern Missouri, Eastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas.

The bulk of the lumber produced at Hodge, Danville and Bienville is marketed with the retail trade of Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. This field is increasing, as strict adherence to grades and fair dealing with customers extend the sphere of the company's influence, but considerably more than half of the cut goes to the southwestern states, where the amount of building always going on means of necessity an extensive demand for good yard stock. Customers who are disposed to be fair with the manufacturer are the only ones sought by the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company, and the policy of the organization is to reciprocate with such and to take all others off its mailing list.

From this review of the business of the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company, it will be seen that a large and profitable business has been built up from a very small start. Of course it is frequently said in explanation of such things that the saw mill man has only to slash the timber and ship the lumber and he can not fail to make money; that theory, however, has been refuted during the period of dull times which has followed upon the panic of 1907, when many concerns have gone to the wall or closed their plants. It will be remembered that the panic began but a few months after Mr. Hodge regained control of the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company, yet his organization has gone ahead with improvements, purchased timber and acquired a new mill since that time, showing that while others have suffered from business depression this institution has been able to keep going on a satisfactory and profitable business. The explanation lies in two things: Good timber and good manufacture. The first was a matter of selection, but of itself would avail nothing; the second is a more complicated proposition, because it is entirely dependent upon the possibility of securing the services of good men in all departments. It has taken time and patience to make certain of these things and constant watchfulness is necessary to keep up to the standard set; the whole, however, presents the admirable appearance of a good machine, well operated.

Text and images were digitized and proofread from the original source documents by Murry Hammond. Contact Murry for all corrections and contributions of new material.