The Townsend Mill
Construction began in 1901 on the first sawmill, which began operations in 1903. The mainline ran basically east/west along the river, and the mill complex lay just south. The mill complex consisted of the sawmill building, a steam power plant and a planing mill to produce finished lumber.
The railroad shops were located along the south through track, along with a wye for turning locomotives. This track also ran along the pond, where log trains dumped their loads down an embankment to the water. Storing logs in the pond kept them from drying out and checking (splitting) before they were milled.
Finished lumber was transported on elevated tramways to the drying stacks, north and west of the mill. Later, the cured lumber was loaded in boxcars and shipped to the connection with the Knoxville and Augusta (Southern Railway) in Walland, 8 miles to the west.
Unloading Logs at Pond Trams with Lumber Headed for Stacks Lumber Drying Stacks
Inspecting Poplar Boards Wide Poplar Boards at Mill
Once the lumber was loaded into the boxcars, the boxcars were sealed with a metal strip as shown below
The seal measures 8¼ inches long and 3/8 inches wide.
In all, there were three mills built at the site, the first two being lost to fires, and the third dismantled in 1939 at the end of operations. The first mill burned in 1906, just as construction began up the East Prong gorge. The second mill burned ten years later in 1916. The planing mill burned in 1919, but the mill was spared.
Mill Complex Looking East Mill and Pond Mill and Pond
Mill Complex Looking North Mill and Pond
Mill and Pond Mill Under Construction
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Skidders Loaders Sawmill Tannery Construction Little River Scenes