THE TIMBERMAN – September 1933
Pioneer Eastern Oregon Lumber Firm
David Eccles Cuts Ties for Oregon Short Line in 1887 and Founds Oregon Lumber Co. in 1889
In 1868 the late David Eccles made a trip by wagon into the Oregon Country, travelling as far west as Oregon City. During the two years he was in this territory he had a very excellent opportunity to look over many fine tracts of timber, both pine in the Inland Empire and Douglas fir in the coastal region. He returned to Utah determined to install a lumber manufacturing operation in Oregon whenever the railroad necessary to the marketing of his product was built through the country. After his return to Ogden he started a milling operation at Schofield, Utah.
In 1887 when the plans were definitely made to construct the Oregon Short Line Railroad as a connecting link between the Union Pacific and the lines of the Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation Co., Mr. Eccles returned to Oregon and installed two small tie mills, one at North Powder, 20 miles west of Baker, the other at Pleasant Valley, 13 miles east of Baker, and manufactured the ties necessary for construction of the Oregon Short Line railroad.
Two years later, in 1889, he discontinued the small operations and constructed the first sawmill located at Barker, Oregon, at the same time incorporating the company under the name of The Oregon Lumber Co. This was among the few pine mills in this country.
Prior to the incorporation of Oregon Lumber Co. Mr. Eccles had secured the timber holdings which today are still supplying logs for the pine operations of the company. Available timber land was unlimited at the time and Mr. Eccles sound judgment in securing the Middle Fork of the John Day River tract has been amply proven to be, more than 40 years of continuous operation.
In 1891 Mr. Eccles decided to expand his operation to include the manufacture of Douglas fir as well as ponderosa pine, or Oregon white pine as it was called at that time, and located at shipping point at Viento, Oregon. The lumber shipped from that point was milled at Chenowith, Washington, and flumed to the Columbia River, from where it was transported by barges to the Viento shipping point on the Oregon side of the river. This rather complicated system was necessary because there was no railroad on the Washington side of the river at that time.
In 1903 Mr. Eccles purchased the Lost Lake Lumber Co. with operations at Hood River, Oregon, and in the same year purchased timber and started a mill operation at lngles, Oregon, on the lower Columbia River, as part of the Lost Lake Lumber Co. In 1905 Lost Lake Lumber Co. was merged with Oregon Lumber Co. with operations at the several points mentioned above.
Oregon Lumber Co. had large holdings of Douglas fir timber located around the base of Mount Hood, and in 1906 built a mill at Dee, Oregon, discontinuing the operations at Hood River and Chenowith - Viento. This mill was originally constructed for the production of ties and timber, and it was with this type of business in mind that the timber was selected. In 1913 the mill at Dee was destroyed by fire and a modern mill for production of all types of lumber was built in its place.
At the present time Oregon Lumber Co. has an annual capacity of better than 150,000,000 feet of "Mt. Hood" Douglas fir and hemlock, and "John Day" ponderosa pine. The company has operated continuously since its inception, and has been through all those years controlled by the estate of the original founder.
At the present time Oregon Lumber Co. has approximately 3,000,000,000 feet of timber tributary to its operations, and is, according to the classification of the forestry department of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a perpetual operation, meaning that the natural growth of the forest tributary to its operations is sufficient to replace the timber cut and manufactured into lumber.
The quality of the pine timber located along the middle fork of John Day River is known all over the country, and is the principal reason for the splendid quality and texture of "John Day" ponderosa pine. This timber grows at an altitude of from 4000 to 5000 feet, under ideal soil and climatic conditions.
Timber on the base of Mount Hood is a slow growth type of Douglas fir, developing an excellent quality of dimension and structural lumber having a greater number of annual rings to the inch than the general run of Douglas fir .
James N. Canse became associated with the company in 1890, one year after its incorporation, starting to work in the general office, located at that time at Ogden, Utah. From 1890 to the present Mr. Canse has been continuously employed by Oregon Lumber Co., and in the 43 years has capably and loyally represented the company. He has occupied positions of various capacities and responsibilities and at present is district sales manager, in charge of the Portland office. Mr. Canse is known and highly regarded by the trade throughout the United States.
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