Kirby Lumber Company at Bessmay, Texas, in 1902; excerpts from American Lumberman magazine.  
Source: American Lumberman. "Timber Resources of East Texas, Their Recognition And Development", originally published in American Lumberman November 22, 1902. Chicago: American Lumberman, 1902. pp. 175-177.
  Excerpt from "CHAPTER XXII., New Mills R, S and T”:  

Where an adequate timber supply is obtainable, such as is at the command of the Kirby Lumber Company, it is cheaper to operate a few large mills than a number of small ones. It is the old question of concentration, the advantages of which have been demonstrated in many lines during the past few years. The new mills which have been planned and which are now under course of construction for the Kirby Lumber Company will be, when finished, fully equal to any now operated in the south. The plans for these mills have been carefully prepared; the locations have been selected after taking into consideration the question of timber supply and shipping facilities and amply meet the requirements.

The new mills are three in number, and are designated by the letters “R,” “S” and “T.” Mill “R” will be the largest and best equipped of the three mills, and will be built near Buna, Tex., in the vicinity of some of the best longleaf timber of east Texas. The capacity of this mill when completed will be about 250,000 feet daily. The planing mill will be one of the largest and best equipped in the south. The site has been named Bessmay, in honor of Mr. Kirby's daughter, Miss Bessie May Kirby.

The Allis-Chalmers Company booked the order for the machinery for these three mills, and it is probably the largest single order for mill equipment ever given by one firm, or ever contracted for by any machinery house. The monster plant of this company is now engaged in getting out this order. It will furnish the equipment for all three of the new saw mills.

The building for mill “R” will be constructed in the form of a cross. The head end of the mill, 94 feet wide by 68 feet long, will contain the cutting machinery. A steam drag saw will be put in at the head of the log haul-up, so that logs may be cut to a desired length in order better to adapt them to manufacturing purposes. The mill when completed will be a double band saw mill. The double log deck will be provided with two 3-arm steam kickers, for rolling logs to either deck as desired, and also two 3-arm loaders and deck stops, one for each carriage. The carriages are to be equipped with the latest design steel blocks and provided with Wilkin steam power set works, pneumatic buffers and steam feed. Two 8-foot extended bed, latest improved band saws will be placed in the mill when completed.

The second or middle section of the building—61 x 102 feet—will contain the 48-inch gang saw; two horizontal re-saws; steam feed cut-off saws; transfer machinery, and two 48-inch 8-saw edgers. The logs destined for the gang saw will be conveyed from either side by cross transfers to the center of the middle section and immediately in front of the gang saw.

The floor of the tail of the mill will be one foot below the level of the floor of the other sections. This part of the building, 68 feet wide by 16 feet long, will contain suspended back tables for the edgers; suspended live rolls under which slabs and edgings pass to the saws of the slashers, and lumber and timber transfers. The trimmers will be one 13-saw automatic overcut lumber trimmer, to trim from 10 to 32 feet, and another trimmer of the same kind and make to trim from 8 to 32 feet. On the platform at the tail of the mill swinging steam feed cut-off saws will be provided for trimming timbers that do not pass through the regular trimmers. The platform will also contain transfer chains and four lines of live rolls for moving and handling timber and lumber.

This mill was planned under the supervision of Theodore S. Wilkin, and is to contain all the latest labor-saving devices and latest improved machinery for manufacturing lumber.

The power for this plant will be furnished by two Reynolds-Corliss engines, one 32 x 60 and one 22 x 48. Both engines will be supplied with frames of heavy rolled mill pattern, with broad bearing surface to rest on foundation.

The crank shaft for the big engine will be 18 inches in diameter; fly-wheel 22 feet in diameter with a 54-inch face, and will weigh about 42,000 pounds. The speed of this engine will be about 75 revolutions a minute. The speed of the smaller engine will be 72 revolutions a minute. Both engines will be operated under a steam pressure of 125 pounds.

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.