To the casual observer, the ordinary saw mill of ninety years ago was not an impressive structure and may have had a dusty, noisy, un-kept appearance. Upon closer observation, there arises a sense of purpose to the scene. Other than employees, few outsiders have seen the daily routine within the saw mill or how lumber is manufactured, mainly because the mills were often in a remote location and they were dangerous.

Small Circular Saw Mill And Tram-Roads
(Red River Museum & Historical Society)

The mill was a busy place; log trains arrived, dumped their loads into the mill pond with spectacular splashes, and then moved on. Men on the mill pond catwalks forcefully prodded the logs toward the jack slip and the logs disappeared into the mill. There were a large variety of sounds emanating from within the structure. The thump of machinery, the whine of the saws, and at the other end of the mill, men appeared pushing trucks laden with lumber to pile upon tall stacks to dry. All this was accompanied by the smell of steam, wood smoke and above all else, the pungent aroma of freshly sawn lumber.

Regardless of size, the saw mill had but one purpose; to take timber from the forest and manufacture it into lumber. The one constant in any lumberman's operation was the saw mill, and it was upon the success of this plant,  that his enterprise succeeded or failed. The mill's operation was fascinating and a way of life for untold thousands.