MILL “K,” SHARON.
In 1886 the Hooks Lumber Company built the first mill at Sharon, or Ariola, the post office name, on the site occupied by the present plant. It is located on the Sabine & East Texas railroad, a branch of the Texas & New Orleans railroad, at its junction with the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe railway, at a point about fourteen miles north of Beaumont. The mill was operated by this company until the panic which was followed by the “hard times” of 1894-95, when the operators were forced to ask for a receiver.
Then followed a few years marked by a checkered existence, when the operation of the mill was anything but certain. The plant was then purchased by the J. F. Keith Company, of Beaumont, and operated by that concern until January 1, 1902, when it was transferred to the Kirby Lumber Company, together with the greater part of the timber and lands that had been acquired by the former company during its occupancy.
The new owners set about remodeling and repairing their purchase. A 22 x 30 Filer & Stowell engine, with a 9-1/2 inch shot-gun feed, was installed in the place of those previously used. The machinery was changed to a heavier pattern throughout, and the installation of machinery is now complete.
The present capacity of the mill is about 70,000 to 75,000 feet a day, which is produced by a single circular saw, supplemented by the usual machinery used in connection therewith.
The source of water supply is from a 6-inch well about 150 feet deep, which furnishes sufficient water for the boilers and locomotives. There is a pond built in close proximity to the mill, and during the rainy seasons this is used to furnish a supply for operating the machinery. This cannot be depended upon for a supply during the entire year, and is dry a part of each season, when the logs are handled over skidways and the mill takes its water supply from a deep well directly beneath the mill.
The present logging camp is located about seven miles to the west, and the logs are hauled from that point by tram cars to the mill. Owing to the exhaustion of the timber supply in that direction a new road is being constructed, which is being laid with 45-pound steel rails in a southwesterly direction from the mill, where the timber holdings of the company are sufficient to supply the mill to its present capacity for the next fifteen years. J. H. Roberts is superintendent at this mill, and is rapidly getting the new machinery installed and everything in first-class shape. He is engaged at present chiefly in cutting railroad ties and other railroad stock. Aside from qualifications which place him in the front rank of mill men, Mr. Roberts is courtesy personified, not only to strangers but to his men, and exacts the same courtesy from them. The mill under his management has been a heavy producer of the class of material cut by it, which is gaining a reputation for quality that is seldom surpassed.