Kirby Lumber Company at Buna 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. 31-37, 73-90.
  Excerpt from "CHAPTER V. Transportation Facilities":  

The Orange & Northwestern has been completed from Orange to a junction point with the Gulf Beaumont & Kansas City at Buna Tex. where the company purposes to erect its largest mill. This will form an outlet to the eastern markets via the Orange & Northwestern and Southern Pacific railways either to the gulf or by rail to destination.

. . .

The Orange & Northwestern although only a short line forms an important link in this network of railroads. Lumber from the Orange mills destined for points to the north can be routed by this line and in this way avoid the delay which may be caused by a congestion in the Beaumont freight yards. The haul is much shorter and there is usually a saving of a day to a day and a half when cars are routed by the Orange & Northwestern. The same is true when freight is consigned in the opposite direction. The road is used for transporting export bills from interior mills to Orange when it is found necessary to distribute such bills among interior mills for cutting.

  Excerpt from "CHAPTER XII. Logging Camps":  

The detailed operations at the different camps are much on the same basis. The company has at present thirteen logging camps which cut on an average monthly about as follows:

Camp & Feet Cut
Buna (ships to Beaumont) -- 4000000
Trotti (logs Orange mill) -- 3500000
Bancroft La. (logs Orange mill) -- 2500000
Kirbyville Texas Tram (ships Beaumont) -- 2000000
Call (at present logging to Call mill) -- 2000000
Village (supplies home mill) -- 2000000
Silsbee -- 2000000
Ariola -- 1500000
Mobile -- 1250000
Woodville -- 500000
Roganville -- 1000000
Fuqua -- 1150000
Lillard -- 1000000

Total log scale -- 24400000

This gives a total of about 24400000 feet of logs cut each month which are furnished the various mills and by them reduced to lumber.

The logging camps are operated under a distinct head and are given numbers instead of letters as in the case of the mills. The commissary department comes under a still different head and separate figures are used to designate the various stores. Each store and camp has a local manager and superintendent who is answerable to the general superintendent at a certain point; the latter in turn reports to the head of his department.

. . .

As previously stated all the logs used by the Kirby company mills at Beaumont are shipped in by rail. Prior to the destruction of mill “C” it required the combined energies of the logging camp at Buna and the steam logger formerly used by the Texas Tram & Lumber Company at Kirbyville to supply the three mills. After the fire which destroyed mill “C” the latter camp was shut down for a time to enable the remaining mills to catch up with the logs that were then held in reserve but operations have been resumed since then.

J. G. Kelcher has charge of the camp at Buna and the company operates two locomotives and ten to fifteen miles of tram roads. The force employed varies with the amount of new track under construction which makes the pay roll fluctuate from fifty to as high as 100 men. The road here is standard gauge. The trucks are taken from the railroad siding by the company's engine to the woods and are there loaded. After a sufficient number of cars have been loaded they are coupled together and the engine takes them to the siding where they are made into a train and sent into Beaumont.

The logging camp at Buna furnishes sixty to seventy-five cars of logs for the Beaumont mills each day and comes first in the camps maintained by the Kirby Lumber Company in the amount produced each month which averages about 4000000 feet log scale.

The method of operation has been systematized. The standing timber has been cut in and around Buna a distance of four to five miles from the station. A main line is established and maintained and from this numerous branches are laid into the very heart of the forest. The trees after being felled and reduced to proper length are hauled to the switches and placed on skids. As soon as enough logs to fill fifteen to twenty cars have been so placed the switch engine runs a number of trucks into the spur which are uncoupled and left directly parallel with the skid of logs to be loaded. As soon as the cars have been placed the loaders make their appearance with oxen mule and horse teams. The short skids leading to the tops of the trucks are placed in position. A chain one end of which is attached to the truck is thrown around the first log the other end is then made fast to the motive power (ox mule or horse) and the team is started. The creaking of the skids mingles with the shouts of the driver and the cautionary words of the loaders who lend a guiding cant to the log on its progress to the truck. The log trembles on the edge of the car and then rolls slowly into place. The loading chain is caught by the man on the car and again fastened and another member of the genus pine makes its appearance on deck. Log follows log until the car has been piled high with the fragrant trunks of pine. A chain is passed over the top of the load from either truck and the key log usually a heavy one draws this taut and the car is ready for shipment. The loaders move on to the next car and repeat the performance until a train load is ready for the Kirby mills at Beaumont.

This is the method of procedure where teams are used to draw the logs on the trucks. Oxen and horses are used for this work and both animals arrive at a high state of perfection. The cuts used show both the horses and oxen at work. The former are naturally the more intelligent and the span of grays used at this camp have received such a thorough training that practically the only thing the driver has to do is to hook and unhook the loading chain. The animals are of heavy build large boned gentle and possess a large share of the property known as horse sense. At a word of command they start and keep the log moving steadily until they feel the chain slack. The command to “whoa” is hardly necessary for when the log bumps into place the team is at a standstill and as soon as the chain is loosened they turn of their own accord and take their station near the car in position for the next pull.

The company keeps one to three teams of these animals at each logging point and they are valued at $300 to $400 a span. The oxen move slower but get there just the same. The illustrations given of the oxen used by the Kirby company at its various camps show some fine animals among the stock. There is practically no limit to the strength of these beasts and once started they can apparently pull anything that is loose at both ends. The companion picture to the view of the horses at work shows them tugging at a log two feet in diameter and thirty feet long. The weight of such a stick is tremendous yet they loaded it with but little effort. “Bull drivers” as they are termed have little difficulty in managing their yokes. In one respect they resemble poets in that they are evidently born and not made. It is next to impossible for many people to secure anything like good work from a three yoke team of oxen as the secret of their management is inherent with some and impossible with others. The work of hauling the logs to the skids is done principally with mule teams. Four to six mules are hitched to one of the big wheel drags the logs caught up by the grappling hooks and the teams headed in the direction of the skids. Where the timber is very thick the ground covered with fallen timber and the tops of trees from which logs are made have been cut the oxen are brought into service and are used to “snake” out the logs. As soon as comparatively open ground is reached the oxen are stopped and the logs are picked up by those in charge of the big wheel carts which carry them to the skids.

Where a steam logger and skidder are used the method is somewhat different. It is possible to load an entire train of fifteen to twenty cars without moving the skidder.

In addition to the crane which is used to hoist the logs to the cars a steam logger is equipped with skidding cables. After the logger has been set in place these cables which are five to six hundred feet long and provided with tongs are drawn by horses to the place where trees have been felled. The tongs are attached to the logs a signal given and the machinery is started. Dead weight yields to the power applied the log is drawn toward the logger dodging stumps tearing its way through the top of a fallen tree on and on until the pine trunk is within reach of the hoisting crane. The tongs which are used to fasten the cable to the log are wedge shaped so formed to assist the skidder in forcing its way through the tangled underbrush tree tops and stumps which cover the ground. Horses ridden by boys are used to haul the cables from the logger to the spot where the fallen pine trunk lies. The horse and boy follow the cable back to the logger the tongs are released and the cable again drawn out for another log. These cables are worked from both sides of the logger and all the logs within reach on both sides of the track are drawn to the cars and loaded.

The empty trucks with the logger resting on a flat car next to the engine are run out until the machine is brought slightly more than abreast of the pile. The supports to the skidder are set and the machine by its own power is raised clear of the car on which it rested. Everything is then in readiness for operation. The engine attached to the cars pulls far enough forward to place the front log truck in position so that the swinging crane will be directly over it. The machinery is started and guided by a lever which controls it the crane moves outward until the tongs at the end of the cable are directly over a log. A reversal of the lever tightens the iron clamps on the log; the machinery carries it back until the stick is directly over the car when it is stopped and the log drops into place. Loading with a steam logger is perhaps faster than with oxen or horses and is less expensive. The feed bills at a logging camp are one of the greatest items of expense and naturally where machinery is used this outlay is not incurred. The Kirby Lumber Company operates two steam loggers one at Kirbyville and one at the Bancroft camp.

A steam logger in full operation closely resembles pictures of the celebrated octopus used as symbolic of the trusts. The crane which loads the cars is only one of the tentacles of this pine and steel animal. On either side is a skidder which is used to draw the logs up within reach of the loading crane. These are kept constantly at work and the creak of the iron cables the “chuff chuff” of the engine together with the lively movements maintained by those who have the machine in charge make the scene a very animated one. As soon as one car has been loaded another is brought into place and so on until the last one is reached. The train of logs is ready for its journey to the mills. When all the logs that can be reached by the 600-foot cables have been snaked in the skidder is dropped onto its car and quickly set up farther along the tram. It has three drum engines for the two skidding and one loading cable with ample steam boiler water tanks etc.

Forty-five to fifty cars of logs make up a train load and these are brought into Beaumont by the railroad company for a fixed charge. Usually two or three trains are made up and shipped each day from the Buna and Kirbyville camps combined. The logs are dumped into pens at Beaumont and — the story of their progress remains to be told.

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.