Wednesday, February 3, 2010

This Day in History, February 3

February 3, 1911
Operations at the Milwaukee Lumber Company in St. Maries began.  The Milwaukee Lumber Company was incorporated in Idaho in February of 1910 by Mr. Fred Herrick, who had come to Idaho from Wisconson in 1909, and his associates A.V. Braderick and W.A. Barnum.  

The Milwaukee Land Company operated the first logging railroad in the St. Maries drainage.  Logging and timber production, being susceptible to the forces of nature, fluctuated from year to year.  Among the adversities the Milwaukee faced were forest fires that not only wiped out timber stands but sections of railway, and the unpredictability of spring floods.

In April 1913, high waters on the St. Joe River flooded the mill and it was shut down along with the St. Maries Lumber Company.  Worse yet was the flood of May 1917, where (according to best estimates of the time) almost $500,000 worth of lumber were lost along the St. Joe, Coeur d'Alene and Spokane Rivers.  The Milwaukee Lumber Company estimated that between three and four million board feet of lumber stacked in the yard floated away.    

The mill produced 50 million board feet of lumber the first year.  Production dropped to 22 million board feet in 1912.  Between 1922 and 1928, production averaged 30 million board feet.  The last year of operation was 1929.  During it's run from 1911 to 1929 around 525 million board feet of lumber were produced.

For more information about the timber industry in St. Maries, visit the St. Maries History page.

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