The Goldendale Sentinel, Goldendale, WA., March 12, 1959, page 8
Includes Photographs, the titles of which follow:
THE MODERN SAWMILL In upper photo is one unit of the big J. Neils Lumber Co. operation at Klickitat. It was built in 1927-28 and is the fourth mill to have been built in Snyder Canyon. The first mill, immediately above, was built in 1909 when Klickitat was known as " Wright." The rocky hillside in background is identifiable in both pictures. The 50th year of sawmilling is the theme of a historical program to be given next Tuesday evening by the Woman's Club of Klickitat. Photos courtesy of Mrs. G. F. Neils.
Town Has Colorful History as Sawmill Center
KLICKITAT TO CELEBRATE GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY
IN SPECIAL OBSERVANCE TUESDAY, MARCH 17
Klickitat was launched on a career as a sawmill town
50 years ago, in 1909, and the 50th anniversary is used as a theme for a
program to be presented at Klickitat next Tuesday night by members of the
Klickitat Woman's Club. The event will take place at the Union building,
beginning at 7:30. A nominal admission will be charged, and cake and coffee
will be served.
The program will include movies taken of Klickitat and its residents 25 years ago. It will also include priceless "still" pictures of earlier days of Klickitat, and the many pioneer possessions from those days.
Mrs. G.F. Neils, in displaying the pictures and giving the program for the club, will wear a dress once worn by Laura Soper and donated by her to Mrs. Neils' collection of early-day remembrances. These things have been given by pioneer residents in order that a record might be kept in Klickitat of those days. Many excellent interviews have been and are being written for this collection.
Mrs. Jennie Stump, a daughter of pioneer settler Louis Cass Wright, was interviewed at her home in Bingen by Mrs. Neils recently. Her father, a farmer and stockman, had lived near Appleton, but moved his family home down to the bank of the Klickitat in 1890. The railroad referred to the place as "Wright" and the name so remained until it was changed to Klickitat about 1912.
The reason for the change was the adoption of that name by the bottling works which was the forerunner of the present Gas-Ice Corp. The mineral springs of that area had long been an attraction and the bottling of carbonated water had become an important industry. The company produced a very popular "soda pop" which was marketed under the name Klickitat until the late 1920s, when production of dry ice became more profitable.
FIRST MILL IN 1909
The first sawmill at Klickitat (Wright) was built in
the fall of 1909 by the Western Pine Lumber Co., formed earlier that year
by James W. Holmes and his brothers, Harrison P. and Charles P., and Max
Houser of Portland.
The mill was located in Snyder Canyon, a little above the present dam which forms the log pond. It was referred to as a "dry log mill" and received its logs by means of an inclined railway constructed on the steep hillside immediately behind the mill. Logging was done on the plateau above the canyon, where in those days grew one of the finest stands of western yellow pine in the area.
At the head of the inclined railway was located a donkey engine which pulled the empty cars uphill and lowered loaded cars to the mill below. The operation was regarded as quite successful.
The mill was put in an operation early in 1910 and a planing mill was added to the operation. However, in June of 1911, the planing mill was destroyed by fire and a month later the sawmill burned. Both were rebuilt at once. In 1914 a dam was built across the canyon to provide a mill pond. In 1916 Fred A. Bennett finished construction of the Klickitat Northern Railroad, to bring timber from upriver to the mill. This railroad was later bought by the Western Pine Lumber Co. and was renamed the Western Pine Lumber Co. Railroad in 1918. Still later the name was changed to Klickitat Log and Lumber Co.
SAWMILL BURNED DOWN
In 1918 the sawmill burned to the ground. Plans were
immediately made for its rebuilding as a band mill and the new mill was operating
again in 1919. In 1922 the Western Pine Lumber Co. was purchased from its
original owners by the J. Neils Lumber Company, which was then nearing the
end of its pioneer operation at Cass Lake, Minn. The Neils company already
had established a secondary lumber operation at Libby, Mont. and the Klickitat
mill became its third division until the Minnesota holdings were closed out
late in 1923. At that time most of the remaining employees were moved from
Cass Lake to Klickitat.
The J. Neils Company became a subsidiary division of the St. Regis Paper Co. in 1958 through purchase and transfer of stock.
Among the "old timers" who will be guests of honor for the Tuesday celebration are Albin Berglund, Mr. and Mrs. Art Vause, Mrs. B.J. Durkee, Homer Mitchell and Mrs. John Monroe. Vause, who has announced his retirement and Mitchell were employees of the Western Pine Lumber Co. at the time it was purchased, and continued to work for the Neils company. Harrison Holmes, one of the original builders, likewise continued his association with the Klickitat mill, and is still connected with the Portland J. Neils office.
The contrast between pictures of that "Wright" railroad stop and the present town and of the early Holmes mill and the modern all-electric mill of the present day Neils Lumber Company is expected to provide the basis for a worthwhile historical program.
The Goldendale Sentinel, Goldendale, WA., March 19, 1959, page 1
GOLDEN YEAR OF LOGGING IN KLICKITAT NOTED TUESDAY
Nearly 250 persons attended the Klickitat Woman's C1ub
program featuring the 50th anniversary of the logging industry in Klickitat,
held at the union hall in Klickitat Tuesday evening.
The program, which featured films by Mr. and Mrs. G.F. Neils and Sally Martell, antique costumes and a display of many early-day historical objects and pictures, was under the leadership of Chairman Jeanette Ascher. Mrs. Neils was narrator of the history and the films shown.
The hall, which was filled to capacity with many spectators standing, was lined with a pictorial history of Klickitat and the lumber mill, assembled by Mrs. Neils. Objects of historical interest, including such items as a bench made from the first log sawed at the Klickitat mill, were displayed along the west side of the room and on tables. Mrs. Neils, Mrs. Ascher and other ladies of the Woman's Club committee were attired in period costumes with floor-sweeping skirts and Paris lace.
Mrs. Neils began her narrative describing the arrival of Non Young and Edgar Wright, "two boys, who came, in 1889 to the top of the hill" she said. "Later they moved to the flat where Klickitat now stands seeking level ground for their cattle."
She paid tribute to Dick Wright, one of the original family still alive. Also mentioned was Eva McIntyre, and then "the person who probably has lived here longest, A.J. Berglund." For next-longest she suggested "Homer Mitchell, who thinks he attended school just below Pitt in 1911. "Mitchell, acknowledging, introduced "Mrs. Divers, Auntie Fay" who went to school with him.
Mrs. Neils continued, "and then, a little later, came a young blade, Art Vause, who went to work for Western Pine in 1913. Now he is sort of semi-retired, at least until the shop orders get to heavy."
Also named was Della Monroe, who came to Klickitat as a little girl, Della Williams, in 1913.
Mrs. Durkee, whose family took a homestead on top, close to Missouri Flats, now Appleton in 1905, was next to be mentioned, and "Bill Wright, another of the boys, the only one still with us."
In naming oldest employees of the J. Neils Company, Mrs. Neils began with Hugo Schmidt, who arrived from Cass Lake July 5, 1913, and Ray Shurtz, who said he drove his father's team one week at about that time, while his father was sick.
Mrs. Neils named as three-generation families employed at the mill, the Wickmans, Herman, Eddie and Richard; the Nelsons, Louis, Harry and Wally; the Hoaglunds, William, Victor, and the two boys. She continued with the Steindorfs, Gus, Mae and Lucille; the Greenfields, M.B. and Walter; the Mitchells, Homer and sons."
In speaking of Art Vause, Mrs. Neils introduced Mrs. Vause saying "she came down to visit her brother, as an excuse, but there were 72 men and only two girls in Klickitat -- she certainly made a good choice."
A liberal show of hands went up in response to the question "How many have worked for J. Neils since 1925? " Mrs. Neils told briefly of the company's beginnings, in 1895, and of its purchase of the Western Pine Lumber Co. from Holmes Brothers and Max Houser in 1922. She and her husband came to Klickitat in 1925, following closurer of the Cass Lake holding late in 1924.
The speaker also gave a run-down on the lives of the successive mills and how vulnerable to fire they were in those times. A ripple of mirth followed her comment, "we burned only one, in 1927," at the conclusion of the list of fires.
G.F. Neils pointed out that the Holmes boys operated the mill with a crew of bachelors and went broke; J. Neils brought in married men and families, and have prospered." His commend was heartily applauded.
Following the showing of the films and slides, the guests viewed the historical display, and were served refreshments.
© Jeffrey L. Elmer