THE EARLY SAWMILLS AT STABLES
AND LORING, LOUISIANA
© By W. T. Block
(click here for W. T. Block web page)
GULF LUMBER COMPANY OF STABLES, LOUISIANA
If the reader has difficulty finding Stables on a road map of Louisiana,
it is because what survives of that erstwhile sawdust city is now known as
Newllano, two miles south of Leesville. Since the Stables sawmill(s) were
bought by Gulf Lumber Company in 1906, the same company that in 1907
was building the giant sawmill at Fullerton, it would seem logical to write
the history of both mills together. The history of Fullerton, Louisiana,
however, is too long and too complex to permit that. Since the Stables
facility consisted of two adjacent sawmills (Nos. 1 and 2) of almost equal
capacity, it certainly appears that Gulf Lumber Company bought out two
separate and adjacent sawmills and then proceeded to operate them as one
plant. One article about Stables observed that:
. . . Since this property has passed into new hands, it has been
thoroughly reconstructed and has become a paying proposition. It is of
the No. 2 Stables plant we would now speak. Mill No. 2 is being
thoroughly remodeled. Everything will be new except the steam
engine. A battery of three 18"x72-inch boilers with Dutch oven
founations has been installed, which will give ample steam power for
all purposes. A new set of line rollers has been placed in position, as
has a new log carriage, a trimmer and resaw.... This mill will have a
capacity of 60,000 feet per day. Over 1,000 feet of new dollyways
have been built and the old ones repaired...
. . . A four-room National dry kiln with a capacity of 100,000 feet a
day takes care of the lumber from both mills.Two dry sheds, one
60'x300-feet, capacity 1,500,000 feet; and one 40'x300 feet, capacity
1,000,000 feet, have been built. To the planer has been added a large
. . . The capacity of Mill No. 1 is 75,000 feet a day, giving a
combined capacity for both mills of 135,000 (feet daily). Mill No. 1
has been thoroughly repaired and is doing first class work. A large
amount of export timber is manufactured, and that class of trade is on
The Stables and Fullerton logging tram was chartered as the Gulf and
Sabine River Railroad, and existed in two parts. The Fullerton section ran to
the east side of Leesville. The Stables tram ran southwest of Leesville for
about ten miles until it connected with the Neame, Carson and Southern tram
road. B. Marshall was woods foreman at Stables, having formerly occupied
the same position with Nona Mills Company at Leesville, and A. Jordan was
team boss. W. R. Fields was saw boss, and B. B. Griffin and Fred Koble
were locomotive engineers. The Stables tram consisted of five miles of 60-
pound, standard gauge main line rails, and five miles of spurs. The tram
rolling stock and livestock included one ten-drive wheel, 70-ton Baldwin
locomotive, two Shay engines on the spurs, 70 log cars, one McGiffert log
loader and skidder, and several mules and yokes of oxen.
In 1907, the Stables plant included 215 "neat cottages" and one
"excellent boarding house" for its 300 employees, all buildings having been
purchased from the former owners. In that year, many families resided at
Stables temporarily, while the husbands were engaged in constructing the
Fullerton sawmill. The company officers in Saint Louis included S. H.
Fullerton, president; O. H. Ingram and V. M. Davis, vice presidents; Frank
Goepel, treasurer; Paul Rust, secretary; and Mark L. Fleischel, vice president
and general manager. Mark Fleischel maintained residences in both
Fullerton and St. Louis.
The general manager for Louisiana operations was W. A. Martin, who
resided in Stables temporarily while Fullerton was being built. Assistant
manager was J. H. Johnson, whose principal assignment was plant
superintendent of both Stables sawmills. Other key personnel at Stables in
1907 included W. L. Vernon, bookkeeper; J. G. Minter, assistant bookkeeper
and purchasing agent; A. D. McClellan, timekeeper; W. P. Hogan,
stenographer and invoice clerk; Dr. M. Monk, mill physician; T. S. Dunnam,
sawmill foreman; M. S. Stewart, planer foreman; T. S. Thelan, yard
foreman; T. S. Cline, B. Farmer, checkers; L. E. Barton, shipping clerk;
Charles Dunnard, filer; E. E. Gaines, Ed. Broussard, sawyers; and Cecil
Wintle, Smith Powers, mill engineers.
The Stables commissary was a three-story, 40'x125-feet in size, and it
carried an $18,000 stock of groceries and merchandise. H. W. Graham was
the commissary manager, assisted by J. C. Fisher, Tom Richie, and Joe
Reavs, commissary clerks. The Stables mill office was a building 30'x50-
feet in size, and contained five rooms.
The steam engines at the power houses also rotated one dynamo,
which supplied electricity to 300 incandescent and three arc lamps located in
the mill and residential areas. The waterworks consisted of two Worthington
pumps, one 20,000-gallon water tank and standpipe, elevated 100 feet,
supplying 6-inch mains throughout the mill and town areas.
The maximum population at Stables was about 700 persons in 1908.
There were also churches and schools for both races, but no details about
them were given. Lumber shipments or the month of June, 1907, amounted
to 125 box cars, while the yard stock amounted to 7,000,000 feet of lumber
being dressed, dried, or in process of shipment. 1
The life span of the Stables sawmill was relatively short by Western
Louisiana sawmill standards. The Stables facility was destroyed twice by
fire in 1913 and again in 1916. The second time, the mill was not rebuilt due
to its depleted stumpage reserve, and the remaining timber was either sold to
other nearby mills or was trammed to Fullerton. In 1917, the Llano colonists
from California took over the old Stables townsite and renamed the location
Newllano. The Llano colony contracted to buy 20,000 acres of cutover land
from Gulf Lumber Company, and the "ups and downs" of that colony can be
read in the principal Vernon Parish history, Tall Pines II. 2
BOWMAN-HICKS LUMBER COMPANY OF LORING, LOUISIANA
The present-day sawmill ghost town of Loring, Louisiana, is located
about three miles east of Zwolle and about eight miles northwest of Many on
the Kansas City Southern Railroad. In 1905, it was a prosperous mill town of
1,000 population. Located adjacent to Highway 171 in Sabine Parish, Loring
was also the location of Bowman-Hicks Lumber Company's largest
Louisiana sawmill, the other being a 25,000-foot mill at nearby Plymouth.
With its general and sales offices located in Kansas City, Bowman-Hicks
also had several mid-Western retail outlets, but the firm was much smaller
than the other Kansas City sawmillers, namely, Central Coal, Pickering, and
Long-Bell, that rushed into Western Louisiana in 1895. To begin with, one
of the writer's histories of Bowman-Hicks Lumber Company at Loring
reported that the entire installation, sawmill, planer, kilns and yardstock,
burned, a total loss of $100,000, at 7:30 PM of February 24, 1906;
nevertheless, another history of September, 1906, reported the sawmill as
already rebuilt. A third history of Loring reported that: 3
. . . The company purchased the property of Plymouth Lumber
Company in 1900. The old mill was located about 3/4 mile north of
the present one and had only a small circular saw. It was dismantled in
1903, and the present mill erected.... The men of different
nationalities... are segregated, the Americans, Mexicans, Italians, and
Negroes occupying different localities... The hotel is excellent and is
presided over by W. H. Wood...
. . . There is a substantial school building, and the school is in charge
of an excellent teacher, Prof. T. C. Gibson. There is an artificial (log)
pond of large size, supplied with an abundance of water...
. . . When Superintendent J. T. Burlingame took charge of the plant,
the mill was cutting about 55,000 feet daily. In less than six months,
the output was increased to 135,000 feet... Very little attention is paid
to the export trade, as the interior demands are greater than can be
W. C. Bowman of Kansas City was president and general manager of
Bowman-Hicks Lumber Company, and George R. Hicks was secretary-
treasurer. Superintendent Burlingame, a Cornell graduate, spent ten years
with King-Ryder Lumber Company, a Long-Bell subsidiary at Bon Ami,
Louisiana; at Burlingame, Arkansas; and in Oklahoma; and Burlingame in
both Arkansas and Kansas were named after him.
Other key personnel at Loring in 1905 included E. L. Gossett,
shipping clerk; R. M. Frampton, bookkeeper-cashier; D. C. Pettit,
stenographer; Joseph Kisler, sawmill foreman; E. O. Smith, yard foreman;
James H. Roscoe, planer foreman; J. A. Henderson, woods foreman; Fred
Huber, sawmill engineer; Charles Slocum, planer engineer; Rube Lindsey,
Ed Taylor, J. C. Kisler, Jr., sawyers; G. E. Labery, Calvin Henson,
locomotive engineers; C. E. Whitman, filer; Tony Carroll, A. M. Norvell,
checkers; Dr. F. C. Bennett, mill physician; T. C. Gibson, teacher; and T. C.
Simpson, deputy sheriff.
The 135,000-foot Loring sawmill was equipped with two single-
cutting band saws and one single circular saw, driven by an 18x24-inch, 150
hp. steam engine. The planing mill contained one 15" Berlin planer-matcher,
two 8" matchers, two Berlin 9" matchers, one 12" Berlin moulder, one
resaw, and two edgers, rotated by another 150 hp. engine and two 16'x66-
inch boilers.3 In May, 1908, one flooring machine and one fast-feed
surfacing planer were added to the mill to increase daily planing capacity to
200,000 feet. The firm owned one Standard dry kiln, that could steam-dry
40,000 feet daily. Also the old hotel building was completely remodeled in
In 1904, the total output of the Loring sawmill was 33,000,000 feet,
with another 10,000,000 feet drying on the yard. Its stave mill could cut
15,000 barrel staves daily. The Bowman-Hicks tram road was fifteen miles
long to its "log front," where three locomotives and 67 log cars brought
several train loads daily to the log pond. The "stumpage reserve" (uncut
logs) was sufficient to last five years, and the owners would need to locate
more if the mill were to survive.
There were also 125 tenant houses at Loring, also one school, one
church for whites and another for Negroes, one dispensary, and one
commissary with a $21,000 stock of groceries and merchandise. The
company paid out monthly wages of $21,000 to its 300 employees. Another
quote noted that:
. . . The company has furnished for its employees an amusement hall
and fitted it up. The club has a pianola (player piano), which allows
them to have music when they so desire. Dances have been quite the
order of the day this past winter.....
Loring also had a tennis club and court, a baseball club and diamond;
a Woodmen of The World lodge, organized in 1902 with 25 members; and
an I. F. F. Card (playing) Club. 5
By May, 1908, the Bowman-Hicks sawmill had already experienced a
considerable turnover of key personnel. Burlingame resigned his position in
1905 to accept other employment in Arkansas, and was replaced as
superintendent by B. M. Musser. Other employees included J. M. Hughes,
assistant superintendent; E. M. Taylor, sawmill foreman; J. H. Roscoe,
planer foreman; E. L. Gossett, yard foreman-shipping clerk; M. M.
Robertson, master mechanic; John Deming, woods foreman; A. W. Bryan,
cashier; A. E. Hendrickson, timekeeper; and Dr. W. C. Middleton, mill
With only five years of timber in reserve, the Loring sawmill may not
have experienced a long life span unless the owners were able to locate
additional stands of long leaf pine. At the latest, the mill was certainly cut
out by the early or middle 1920's. The Louisiana road map of today does not
even list Loring as a village, indicating that it has returned to ghost town
status. Probably today, an abandoned cemetery and a few concrete
foundations, covered with pine needles, are the only evidences left of that
once thriving sawmill town of yesteryear. And on most any quiet day at
sunset, provided one cups his ear to windward, there might still be heard an
echo of the big band saw's screech, drifting with the breeze across some
- "Gulf Lumber Co. at Stables, La.," Beaumont Enterprise, June 30, 1907, p. 6, col. 1.
- E. W. Wise, Tall Pines II: A History of Vernon Parish, La. and Its People (Sulphur: 1988), p. 41.
- "Bowman-Hicks Mill at Loring Burns," Beaumont Enterprise, Feb. 25, 1906, p. 2, cols 3-5;
"Lumber at Loring, La.," Beaumont Enterprise, May 15, 1905, p. 4, cols. 7-8; Kansas City Southern Sawmill
Circular No. 52-A, Kansas City, Feb. 1, 1901; "Lumber Mills of Louisiana," Southern Industrial and Lumber
Review (Sept. 1906), p. 29; "Mills on the Kansas City Southern," Beaumont Journal, Oct. 30, 1904.
- "Loring, La. Notes," Beaumont Enterprise, May 24, 1908, p. 13.
- "Lumber at Loring, La.," Beaumont Enterprise, May 15, 1905, p. 4,cols. 7-8.
- "Loring, La. Notes," Ibid., May 24, 1908, p. 13.