Kirby Builds a Honey of a Mill (Gulf Coast Lumberman, 1941)  
  Source: "Kirby Builds a Honey of a Mill", Gulf Coast Lumberman, August 15, 1941. Bound in a scrapbook in the collection of Lester Haines.  
Kirby Lumber Company at Honey Island, Texas  
The large photo shows a front view of the Kirby operation at Honey Island. Left to right are: the timber unloading machinery, the headrig, the new boiler room which is now under construction, the new fuel house. Inset shows a close-up of the fuel house with a giant cyclone boiler on top.  
  Kirby Builds a Honey of a Sawmill at Honey Island  

The National Defense program has given the lumber industry a gigantic task to perform and in order to shoulder its proportionate part of this production burden, the Kirby Lumber Corporation has been carrying on a remodeling program at their Honey Island mill.

They are rebuilding their very excellent sawmill from foundation to roof peak and from log pond to dry kiln. They have been engaged in this work with a considerable force of men since the beginning of the present year and they expect to complete the job by Christmas.

The first act was to construct a new fuel house, which measures in size 30 x 30 x 80 feet, giving 72,000 cubic feet of fuel space.

A new steel and concrete boiler house is already finished and the entire old power plant is being replaced with a much more powerful one, consisting of four Marine type tubular boilers of far greater capacity than the old ones. A new smoke stack towering 175 feet in height and 6-1/2 feet in diameter, built in Kirby's own machine shop at Silsbee, has been installed.

A new engine room is being constructed and will house a 30x40 Corliss rope drive engine, this unit replacing three old engines. A 500 KW Turbine is being installed, as well as two big new Air Compressors. A traveling crane for the handling of machine parts will be a part of the engine room equipment.

In the sawmill proper they started at the bottom, tearing out old flooring and foundations and replacing them with a new concrete floor and concrete foundations for all the lower deck equipment. A new drive shaft set on concrete foundations has been installed and all conveyors have been moved to the outside of the mill.

When the power plant and lower part of the mill have been completed, the workmen will move to the upper deck of the mill where a single band rig and a powerful gang are operated. The reconstruction there will consist of the replacement of all worn working parts, a new mill roof and a new timber dock.

After the mill, the next improvement plan calls for the further modernization of the present planing mill.

The remainder of the Honey Island plant is entirely modern. They have a battery of five Moore Cross Circulating Kilns that handles the entire production of the mill. Since this plant ships an unusually large amount of heavy railroad car material that requires special handling in the kilns, a separate stacking rig has been constructed. A battery of sheds houses the total production of this plant.

All logs come into the Honey Island plant by rail from Kirby's own forests. Big logs being unloaded into the pond is an everyday sight. Dense Short Leaf timbers in considerable volume naturally become one of Honey Island's chief output.

Like all Kirby mills, this one will be treated to a bright coat of red paint when the remodeling is completed. The Company office, store, hotel and many of the homes at Honey Island are being newly painted at present.

Kirby Lumber Company at Honey Island, Texas  
M. C. Rigsby, mill manager.  

To operate a, mill continuously during a rebuilding program such as this tests the ingenuity of an operator. To date this feat has been accomplished by Mr. M. C. Rigsby, who is a veteran Kirby Mill Manager, having managed their plant at Bronson, Texas, later moving to Merryville, Louisiana, where he operated the two Kirby Pine mills there until they were dismantled. Mr. Rigsby hopes to maintain this record throughout the balance of the program.

Any doubt that may exist in any mind that the Honey Island plant will be expected to manufacture lumber for a mighty long time to come, will be effectually removed by witnessing these rebuilding and remodeling activities.

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