Historic Resource Study
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The Ozark Riverways and the "New South": Hinterland Development and Exploitation, 1870-1920

During the sixty years following the Civil War, the United States developed into a largely industrialized urban nation. Governments and large commercial corporations collaborated to expand the system of railroads and organized the economy on a national scale. Historians have applied the term "New South" to describe the rising interest in internal improvements and industrial development in the South after the war. A number of politicians and capitalists, in and out of the South, worked to integrate the region into the transforming national economy. Many southern leaders wanted to capture more of the wealth generated by industrialization for their region. Transportation improvements were a big part of the economic change. Railroads, in particular, were important to the Ozarks and, as they moved deeper into this region, eastern capitalists turned to the resources of the uplands to help fuel the national industrial growth.

Counties Adjacent to the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

Large scale timber and mining interests were at the vanguard in the development of the Ozark hinterland. The hills of southeast Missouri were long noted for their mineral wealth. For more than a century, Europeans exploited the lead resources and, later, the iron ore of the upper St. Francis River valley. Since before 1840, pioneer miners also extracted a high grade of copper from what one St. Louis newspaper called "the celebrated mines" along the Current and Jacks Fork rivers. Surveyor's notes from the federal land office identified copper mines two or three miles up Shawnee Creek and west of the creek between it and Jacks Fork River. [1] In addition to the mineral resources, the area had a rich growth of yellow pine that had not attracted much outside notice before the depletion of the eastern pine forests and the movement of railroads into the Ozarks.

In contrast to the virtual absence of railroad construction south of the Missouri River during the war, railroad builders extended lines in southern Missouri soon after the return of peace. Three lines moved into the Missouri Ozarks to the east and west of the Current River valley. The St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad, with the backing of eastern financier Jay Gould in 1870, began constructing a branch from the end of track at Pilot Knob to Arkansas. Its developers charted the new branch out of the St. Francis River valley southwest to the Black River valley, then south to Poplar Bluff, and continuing into Arkansas. The potential of providing transportation for local gravel operations and for town building convinced the builders to follow the Black River rather than the more developed St. Francis valley. The Iron Mountain Railroad underwent several reorganizations and, in 1881, became part of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. [2]

A second line approached the Ozarks from the west. The Kansas and Neosho Valley Railroad, operating a line between Kansas City and Fort Scott in 1865, changed its name first to the Kansas City, Springfield, and Memphis Railroad and then to the Kansas City, Fort Scott, and Memphis Railroad (KFS&M). The builders, under the new name, decided against moving into the Indian Territory and, instead, developed a rail line through Springfield and toward Memphis. In 1881-1882, the KFS&M railroad stretched southeast through Howell County and entered Arkansas from southwest Oregon County, Missouri. Later in the decade, this company extended a branch to Current River. [3]

Another railroad company, the Cape Girardeau and Springfield Railroad Company, laid track from Cape Girardeau eastward into the Ozarks. Originally chartered in 1857, Lewis Houck reorganized the company in 1880 and, one year later, renamed it the Cape Girardeau Southwestern Railroad Company. Houck built the line southwest along the Ozark escarpment to the St. Francis River and then east to the Black River, which he crossed at Williamsville. In 1889, it reached the community of Hunter in the Current River valley. [4]

Town building was a major component of the developing Ozark hinterland and was intimately coupled with railroad construction. Officials of the Iron Mountain Railroad platted a number of towns, including Piedmont, Mill Spring, and Williamsville, to support passenger and freight services on their line. In 1880, nine years after its founding, Piedmont had grown to a town of 666 residents and had become the primary shipping point for the surrounding area. Along the Kansas City, Fort Scott, and Memphis Railroad, such towns as Cedar Gap, Mansfield, Mountain Grove, Willow Springs, Olden, and Brandsville sprung up. The Cape Girardeau Railroad also platted towns, and Lewis Houck assigned Indian names to many of these, such as Ojibway, Taskee, and Upalika. [5]

In the early 1870s, railroads also reached the established local market centers of Salem and Poplar Bluff. More than ten years earlier, in 1860, the seat of Dent County, Salem, was a growing community of 400 people, five general stores, and three hotels. The 1860 Missouri State Gazetteer reported that the community had a female seminary and a high school. Raiding during the Civil War destroyed much of the town but, by 1865, the population had regained its pre-war total. In 1872, the Southwest Branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad (formerly part of the Iron Mountain Railroad) constructed a line—the St. Louis, Salem and Little Rock Railroad—from Cuba, Missouri, to Salem. Four years later, the population of Salem reached 1,500, and the community sported ten general stores and five hotels. At this time, the existence of two weekly newspapers reflected the prosperity of the times. The title of one paper, the Western Success, displayed a booster spirit in the community. Poplar Bluff, the seat of Butler County, reflected the pattern of Salem's growth. Located at the uppermost reach of steamboat navigation on the Black River, the town served as the local shipping point for agricultural products and iron ore. In 1860, the village housed 200 people and had one general store, but had no hotels or newspapers. The Iron Mountain Railroad reached Poplar Bluff in 1873, and by 1876 the community had grown to an estimated 800 people and had four general stores, four hotels, and one weekly newspaper. [6]

The population of the southeast Missouri Ozarks grew more rapidly as the railroads moved into the area and war hostilities cooled. In the 1870s, unlike the previous decade, the population growth of the southern Courtois Hills outpaced that of all Missouri. Between 1870 and 1880, the state's population increased 26 percent compared to a 45 percent rise in the previous decade. The number of people living in the four county region, including Carter, Dent, Ripley and Shannon counties, however, rose by 58 percent during the 1870s. The more isolated counties, those without railroads, such as Carter and Shannon counties, also participated in the accelerated rate of growth. In the 1870s, the number of people in Carter County increased 49 percent from 1,455 to 2,168, and Shannon County experienced a 47 percent rise from 2,339 to 3,441. The numbers demonstrate a much accelerated growth rate compared to the previous decade when the population in Carter and Shannon counties only rose by 18 and 2 percent respectively. [7]

An increase in the number of post offices and hamlets accompanied the population growth. The post office listings of an 1860 state gazetteer indicated that about seven hamlets existed in Shannon, Carter, and Ripley counties before the Civil War. By the mid-1870s, however, the number doubled. The new communities included Riverside, a village located thirty miles northeast of Eminence, that had twenty people, a general store, a hotel, and several artisans. [8]

Along with the additional hamlets, the county seats of Van Buren, Doniphan, and Eminence grew larger and began to demonstrate more diverse functions. Eminence exhibited considerable transformation after the Shannon County residents moved the county seat to Jacks Fork. In 1876, eight years after its relocation, Eminence developed into a town of 250 inhabitants. It changed from a political hub, with only a jail and courthouse, into a town with multiple functions. Four general stores, two hotels, two saloons, three churches, two schools, a weekly newspaper, and a variety of artisans and professionals concentrated at the location of the "new" Eminence. A forty-mile-long stage coach line linked Eminence to Salem and to the railroad at this Dent County seat. A 1876-1877 Missouri Gazetteer identified copper ore, "general farm produce," and furs as the principal exported goods. [9]

Compared to Eminence, Van Buren remained a small village in 1876. Yet despite a reported size of only 50 residents, the community added a hotel and a newspaper since the war. Founded in 1874, the first newspaper, The Vidette, was shortlived. It was followed by the Times, a weekly organized in 1876 by Tom Brown and James Moseley, which around 1884 became The Current Local. The nearest railroad to Van Buren was 20 miles east at Mill Spring in Wayne County. The primary products exported from the village included wheat, cattle, and furs. [10] In addition, Carter County residents commonly rafted logs down the Current to market in Arkansas. [11]

Doniphan, the Ripley County seat, ranked above both Eminence and Van Buren in size. In the mid-1870s, about 500 people lived in Doniphan on the banks of the lower Current River. The town contained three general stores, two hotels, a newspaper, three churches, a school, and an assortment of artisans, lawyers and doctors. It was twenty miles west of the nearest railroad, the Iron Mountain line at Harviel. The community exported tobacco and cotton. [12] The nature of the commercial shipments from Doniphan compared to those of Eminence and Van Buren reflected a persistent difference between the economies of the upper and lower Current valley. The wider and more fertile valley of the lower Current continued to support larger commercial farms or plantations while the leading commercial products of the north, small logging operations, peltries, copper ore, and livestock, reflected a different type of economy. Few northern uplanders developed a cash crop and those participating in the commercial marketplace traded in livestock and the above extract industries.

The introduction of steam-powered mills throughout the Current River valley after the Civil War, however, reflected the shifting of the riverways' economic base toward greater involvement in the outside market place, even in the more self-sufficient culture of the upper Current region. The 1860 U.S. Census schedules on manufacturing reported five mills in Carter, Shannon, and Ripley counties and, all water-powered. Around 1868, John Carpenter operated the first steam-powered mill in Shannon County opposite and a little downriver from Akers. The operation milled lumber, corn, and flour. [13] Sometime, between the end of the Civil War and 1874, the first steam-powered mill was introduced into Carter County. [14]

As historian James Lee Murphy noted, the introduction of railroad transportation and steam-powered mills resulted in greater production of lumber in the Ozarks. Based on the 1870 U.S. Census, twenty-three sawmills in the southeast Ozark region produced 5,575,600 board feet of lumber. Ten years later, the number of mills rose to forty-seven, and the amount of cut lumber jumped to 40,609,000 board feet. [15] Most of this lumber was sawn in the eastern part of the region near the Iron Mountain Railroad. The townships of Wayne County located in this region sawed 10,964,000 feet of lumber. A major mill, Clarkson and Company, operated out of Mills Spring township in Wayne and milled four million board feet in 1880. In three townships in Reynolds County, the amount of boards sawed totaled 7,520,000 feet. On the other hand, less lumber was milled in the western part of the region. Shannon County, with three steam-powered mills and one water-powered mill reported by the U.S. Census, produced 1,350,000 feet of lumber in 1880. Ripley and Dent counties, in the same year, sawed 1,310,000 and 625,000 board feet of lumber respectively. Within this more western area, however, Carter County stood out in 1880 by sawing seven million board feet of lumber. Three steam mills in the northeastern part of Carter County sawed the lumber, and the year-round navigability of the lower Current River probably enabled these mills to float the boards out of the area. [16]

Between 1870 and 1880, the pace of agricultural development also quickened. In the region defined by Murphy, the number of farms and acres in improved farmland doubled during the ten years. The proportion of cleared land compared to the total land area of the region went from 2.4 to 4.4 percent. In Shannon and Carter counties, slower growth in agricultural development demonstrated less fertile soil and more isolation than in the other counties of the region. Improved land in Shannon County totaled 2.3 percent in 1880. [17]

After 1880, large-scale timber operations entered the Ozarks and, more than any other force, developed this Ozark hinterland as an integrated part of the growing national economy. The availability of quality pine timber, the expansion of railroads, and the low cost of extraction encouraged capitalists to organize large corporate lumber activities in southeast Missouri. Commercial lumbermen turned to the southern forest after depleting much of the pine forest of the north and east. The timber industry migrated westward after the intensive cutting of the pine forest in New England during the first half of the nineteenth century. To meet the building demands of the growing cities and industrial construction, the lumbermen increasingly rationalized the industry into integrated corporations and swiftly moved into western New York in the 1850s, Pennsylvania in 1860s and, by the 1870s, entered the white pine forests of the Great Lakes. During the next decade, large timber organizations moved into the yellow pine forests of the South. [18]

A number of large operations, focusing on the Ozark pine forest, were underway before 1890. In Wayne County, these included the Clarkson Sawmill Company with a mill at Leeper; the Clearwater Yellow Pine Lumber Company at Clearwater; and the Holladay-Klotz Land and Lumber Company at Williamsville and Greenville. In Shannon County, the leading mills were run by the Ozark Land and Lumber Company at Winona and the Cordz-Fisher Lumber and Mining Company at Birch Tree. In Carter County, the Missouri Lumber and Mining Company built a large mill in Grandin during the 1880s and later moved this operation to West Eminence in Shannon County. The Clarkson Sawmill Company began lumbering in the Ozarks before any of these other firms. Founded before 1870, it initially operated in Iron County near the Iron Mountain tracks, but moved to Wayne County in 1872. In 1880, it milled four million board feet of lumber. The largest of these lumber enterprises, however, and the company having the earliest and greatest impact on the Current River valley was the Missouri Lumber and Mining Company. [19]

A group of Pennsylvania lumbermen and investors created and directed the Missouri Lumber and Mining Company. Looking for an investment opportunity in the late 1860s, Pittsburgh lumberman O. H. P. Williams corresponded with several Ozark county officials about land for sale. The inexpensive land cost reported by Ripley County, Missouri, impressed him, and he purchased some timbered land in the northeast part of the county as an investment. In 1871, Williams and his son-in-law, E. B. Grandin, traveled to the area and, upon returning home, decided to exploit the Ozark timber resources. They convinced several Pennsylvania oil and lumbermen to join them in purchasing 30,000 acres in Carter County for an average price of one dollar an acre. The investors eventually employed John Barber (J. B.) White to develop the Missouri milling operation. [20]

Williams and the Grandins selected young J. B. White as the general manager based on his brief but successful career in lumbering. White, whose ancestors worked in the timber industry since 1639, went into the business himself in 1868 near Youngsville, Pennsylvania. In this first venture, he and his partners harvested their own timber and brought it to a local mill for sawing. Following several business sales and mergers, White acquired a sawmill in Tidioute, Pennsylvania, started a retail lumber yard near the town and, by 1876, added a stave and shingle mill to his Youngsville operations. White agreed to go to Missouri to build a mill in the Carter County wilderness, and he became a legendary figure along the Current River valley. [21]

Several factors influenced the Pennsylvanians in selecting southern Missouri and Carter County for a large lumbering enterprise. First, they believed that the region could provide some of the needed labor supply. Timber harvesting on the frontier generally required importing much of the labor force and indeed the small population of Carter County indicated that White would have to import most of the skilled workers and some unskilled labor as well. Yet the population of Carter County concentrated along the principal rivers, such as the Current, and the investors saw in this money-poor population an eager supply of labor. Another factor of importance was the favorable climate. In the north, because of the harsh winters, the large lumber activities functioned seasonally, but the more mild climate of the Ozarks would enable year round production. A third important factor was the proximity of the Ozark upland to the expanding market for lumber on the relatively "treeless plains." [22]

An especially significant factor in beginning an operation in the Ozarks was the low cost of stumpage compared to that in the northern pine forest. Stumpage refers to the cost of harvesting and sawing timber. At the end of the 1870s, after a three-month trip to the area, Williams and White calculated the stumpage to be as low as five cents and much below the fifty cent to one dollar cost of the pine forests of Minnesota. In 1879 and 1880, White bought more land at sheriff's sales for as low as twelve and one-half and twenty-five cents an acre. [23]

To carry out the Ozark lumber operation, the Pennsylvania group incorporated the Missouri Lumber and Mining Company in Missouri at the end of 1880. J. B. White moved to Carter County, Missouri, and set up a mill in the eastern part of the county about ten miles north of Lakewood. A small community, White's Mill, developed around the site. White employed about 125 local people by 1884. The operation was about fifteen miles south of the Iron Mountain Railroad depot at Mill Spring, where White constructed a planing mill. He carried lumber from White's Mill to the finishing mill by ox-drawn wagons and then shipped the lumber out on the Iron Mountain. White's Mill had the potential to cut six million board feet a year. The gruelling overland hauling conditions prevented the mill from reaching its capacity, and White was unable to convince the Iron Mountain Railroad to build a branch to the mill. Historian Flanders suggests that the Iron Mountain refused to accommodate the transportation needs of the Missouri Lumber and Mining Company because the railroad had its own timber interest and opposed the competition from White. In 1884, White shut down the mill and laid off the workers. The closing ended the recent influx of cash into the county, for the payroll had totaled approximately $2,500 to $3,000 per month. [24] In December 1884, the editor of the Current Local of Van Buren lamented the loss of the money investment in the area:

Times are dull in this neighborhood. Many of the people find it extremely difficult to raise money to pay their taxes and buy their winter supplies. We have no definite information yet as to when the Mo. Lumber & Mining Company will start up any of their works, but sincerely hope that they or some one will start something ere long [sic] to bring some money into the country. [25]

The Missouri Lumber and Mining Company looked elsewhere to bring a railroad to its Ozark holdings. It was anxious to harvest the pine timber on the 100,000 acres of land it owned in Carter County and the additional land in Ripley County. [26] The lumber company discovered an interested distribution partner in the Kansas City, Fort Scott, and Memphis Railroad. The KFS&M Railroad formed the Current River Railroad to negotiate the construction of a branch line from Willow Springs, Howell County, Missouri, to the pineries of the Missouri Lumber and Mining Company. The lumber corporation approved the contract in February 1887 and agreed to ship all the lumber going to markets west of the Mississippi River on the railroads controlled by the KFS&M. The lumbermen also agreed to have a mill operating by the time of the track's completion. After five years, either party could cancel the contract. The KFS&M commenced building a track east toward the heart of the Current River Valley, and just a few months after the completion of the contract a second railroad, the Cape Girardeau Southwestern Railroad, began laying track west toward Carter County. The two lines met at the new railroad town of Hunter in 1889, and gave the lumber company access to eastern as well as western markets. [27]

While the Current River Railroad laid track toward Carter County, J. B. White supervised the building of a large mill ten miles south of White's Mill at Tolliver's Pond near Lakewood. The natural pond, a sinkhole of about three and one-half acres, provided a ready made holding pool for approximately 500,000 feet of logs. Its location, near the upper Little Black River in southeast Carter County, also offered a river valley route along which the lumber company could build a tram line to its large timber holdings on Beaver Dam Creek. Developing this advantageous site, however, required an unprecedented movement of men and heavy machinery into Carter County. White relocated the small mill from White's Mill to the new location. He also bought a locomotive and shipped it to Williamsville, where he had it dismantled and hauled by ox team for twenty-two miles to the new mill. In similar fashion, the company moved six miles of iron rails and the machinery for the mill over the same route to Lakewood. Missouri Lumber and Mining invested $250,000 in building the new mill complex, which included a sawmill, planing mill, and dry kiln. As of 1889, the cost of the plant represented the second largest capital investment in the Ozarks. [28]

The Missouri Lumber and Mining Company also built a town to the west of the mills and kiln and named it Grandin after E. B. Grandin, one of the founders of the corporation. In 1888, there were 175 employees. Most of them came from local farms, but a few skilled workers, such as sawyers, were imported from the northern logging operations. Grandin remained an unincorporated, private town owned and managed by the company from 1888-1909. A company engineer-architect laid out the community to accommodate up to 1,000 houses. Grandin was planned around a main street lined with a company store, hotel, office building, and hospital. The commercial buildings were separated by large lawns decorated with flowers and shrubbery. The logging railroad roundhouse, blacksmith shop, and several other machine shops were located down the valley west of the office building. Eastward from the town stretched the large lumberyard that came to cover approximately eighty acres and, beyond it, the pond and mills. [29] In addition to the commercial and residential structures, the company tried to influence the moral character of the town; it assisted the building of churches and forbade the presence of taverns or brothels in Grandin. The company also supported the publication of a newspaper, the Grandin Herald. [30]

In late June of 1888, when the Current River Railroad reached Grandin, the Missouri Lumber and Mining Company had approximately six million board feet of milled lumber waiting for shipment. Thereafter, production increased and the annual amount of sawed lumber grew to 32,000,000 board feet in 1892. That year, the company added two planing mills and two sawmills and, after 1895, the annual production of lumber averaged 60,000,000 board feet. The Current Local, the Van Buren newspaper, called the Grandin mill the largest in the state and claimed that in 1894 it produced more lumber than any mill in the country. By the turn of the century, the Missouri Lumber and Mining Company employed 1,000 of the 5,886 lumber workers in Missouri; in 1905, the mill's employment peaked at 1,500 workers. [31]

The lumber company relied on tram railways and waterways to transport the pine logs to the mill. The first tram line was laid down the Little Black River and into the company's extensive timber holdings in the Beaver Dam Creek valley. During the early 1890s, Missouri Lumber and Mining Company (ML&M) added fifty miles of tram tracks. The various branches extended east, southeast, west, and southwest from Grandin, and several tram lines ran off the main line of the Current River Railroad north of Grandin. One line, stretching southwest from Grandin, crossed the Current River at the mouth of Colvin Hollow and followed Buffalo and Little Barren Creeks into northwest Ripley County. Above Grandin, five miles west of Van Buren, a line began at the Current Railroad at Cummings and moved south down Ponca Hollow into and along Big Barren Creek in southwest Carter County. Another line went north from the Current Railroad at Chilton. This tram traversed the pine forests northward into Reynolds County near Ellington; it also entered Carter Creek, lower Pine Valley and Christian, Coleman, Doe Run, and Lone Star Hollows. ML&M built the trains with standard gauge tracks to enable connections with the Current Railroad, which they used extensively in moving logs to the mill as well as finished lumber to various markets. The lumber company operated a half dozen locomotives and 300 cars to haul logs to Grandin. [32]

The Missouri Lumber and Mining Company, like other companies, also floated timber down waterways to transport logs to the mill. Near the turn of the century, ML&M relied heavily on the Current River to move the timber that was cut from their land close to the river and above the depot at Chicopee. Teamsters hauled the logs by mules to the banks of the Current and piled them along the shore. Then, crews gathered a large number of logs and, when the water level permitted, floated them downstream to Chicopee, the point just south of Van Buren where the Current River Railroad crossed the Current River. For example, in 1900 the lumber company organized two large river drives that each transported more than one-half million feet of lumber in flotillas of approximately fifteen miles long. The company did not raft or tie the timber together, but rather ran them loose down the swift-flowing and winding river. A large crew of drivers followed the timber downriver, and they were responsible for breaking up log jams, often by dynamiting. At Chicopee a boom across the river stopped the timber and a "hog chain," a chain with spikes, pulled the logs out of the water and up a V-shaped trough. Loggers with cant hooks rolled the logs away from the trough and then skidders dragged them by mule team to the railways. [33]

A number of hazards, however, made transporting timbers through the rugged Current hills by tram and down the free-flowing Current River risky endeavors. Because of the temporary nature of the tram tracks, the quality of their construction was a minimum concern; travel over the lines was rough and bridges were not always built to withstand flash floods. As a result, a swift flood could stop operations for days. Violent floods broke up log drives. They sent logs careening downstream and over the Chicopee boom and forced the company to retrieve the logs at considerable expense or to buy them back from the Doniphan Lumber Company downriver at Doniphan in Ripley County. [34] In addition to the flooding, rock slides and traffic control mistakes caused accidents, injuring crews and damaging equipment. The Grandin Herald reported two such accidents happening on the same day in February, 1909. In Carter County, a rock slide derailed a log train one mile east of Chicopee on the Current River Railroad and, on the same day, a switch engine hit a local freight train on the same line between Hunter and Chicopee. [35]

Two additional large scale corporate lumber operations, founded by outside capitalists, extracted pine from the upper Current valley in the late nineteenth century. In 1887, a group of businessmen, including Joseph Fisher, Jay Coatsworth, C. W. Goodlander, and Alfred Blaker, formed the Ozark Lumber Company in Kansas City. They built a sawing and planing mill complex at the small railroad depot of Winona in the upper Pike Creek valley in Shannon County and constructed a company town south across the tracks from Winona. They named it Fishertown after Joseph Fisher. Fisher, the first secretary-treasurer of Ozark Lumber, came from a milling operation in Muscatine, Iowa. In the 1890s, the Ozark Lumber Company merged with the Hershey Lumber Company that was controlled by Benjamin Hershey, a lumberman and banker also from Muscatine. Hershey milled lumber from the Ozarks at Sargent, Texas County, Missouri, before the merger. The reorganized company became the Ozark Land and Lumber Company and continued to operate out of Fishertown. The Ozark Company laid tram lines into their timber lands south of Winona in the Eleven Point River valley. They extended one track southwest down the Spring Valley and one southeast along Hurricane Creek. The operation was managed by J. H. Hahn and was concentrated in the timber region west of the Carter and Ripley counties holdings of the Missouri Lumber and Mining Company. Toward the end of the 1890s, lumber production at Fishertown averaged 26,000,000 board feet per year. [36]

The third of the large corporate pine lumber operations emerged from a company founded by Danish immigrants, the four Cordz brothers. Landing in the United States in 1878, they arrived in the Missouri Ozarks after working four years in a small lumber business in Mississippi. They started logging near the Kansas City, Fort Scott, and Memphis Railroad in the North Fork Valley in Douglas and western Howell Counties in 1882 but, about six years later, moved to Winona and established Henry Cordz and Company. One year later, in 1889, O. W. Fisher entered the partnership, and they reorganized the business into the Cordz-Fisher Lumber and Mining Company and moved to Birch Tree, ten miles west of Winona on the Current Railroad. The following year Fisher also became associated with the Ozark Land and Lumber Company of Winona. [37]

The Cordz-Fisher company harvested timber north and south of the Current Railroad. It started out buying small parcels of timberland north of the tracks and laid a tram line up Pine Hollow. In the mid-1890s, Cordz-Fisher purchased 25,000 acres of pine forest to the south. [38]

In 1897, the three large pine companies along the Current River, Missouri Lumber and Mining, Ozark Land and Lumber, Cordz-Fisher Lumber Company, and the Holladay-Klotz Company to the east on the Black River formed a marketing exchange to sell their products and to eliminate price competition among the companies. They incorporated the Missouri Lumber and Land Exchange and operated out of Kansas City. J. B. White was the secretary-treasurer and general manager of the exchange, and the remaining officers were top managers or directors from the other lumber corporations. During the first month following incorporation, the Holladay-Klotz Company complained about its market share and quit the exchange. In 1899, the Lumber Exchange marketed 133,000,000 board feet of lumber mostly in the Midwest and Southeast and, in 1907, after two Louisiana lumber firms that White had an interest in joined the exchange, the volume of sales rose to 260,000,000 board feet. [39]

The Missouri Lumber and Mining Company, the leading producer of this group, accelerated its cutting of timber after the turn of the century. The number of people employed by the company climbed from 1,000 in 1900 to 1,500 in 1905. Little choice pine timber remained near Grandin in 1900, and the company's logging operations moved increasingly northward. By 1903, ML&M pined out 213,017 of the 324,017 acres of land that it had purchased since 1888. Its land acquisitions, after 1900, were focused in Shannon County. The St. Louis and San Francisco Railway Company (Frisco), which purchased the Kansas City, Springfield, and Memphis Railroad in 1901, helped to entice Missouri Lumber into this more isolated area by offering the company a reduced freight rate for lumber shipped from northwest Shannon County. In 1907, the most profitable year for Missouri Lumber and Mining, the company began laying tram lines into these northwest holdings. It constructed a standard gauge line, beginning from the Current River Railroad two miles west of Winona, north up Mahans Creek to its mouth and then across Jacks Fork and west to Horse Hollow. In Horse Hollow, the company built a logging camp named Angeline. Missouri Lumber incorporated the tram line as the Grandin and Northwestern Railroad Company, and it later became the Salem, Winona, and Southern Railroad Company. [40]

Soon after laying the tram lines into northwest Shannon County, Missouri Lumber and Mining Company shut down the Grandin mill. Shipping the logs more than sixty miles from the Jack Forks area to Grandin proved costly. A brief economic recession at the end of 1907 cut lumber prices and lumber orders dropped. The company began plans to remove its milling complex to Shannon County. In early autumn 1909, the lumber company literally packed up the Grandin mill and moved it to a site one mile west of Eminence and a short distance up Mahans Creek. It also built a town at the site, which became West Eminence and, like the mill works, the company relocated many of the buildings, such as the houses, from Grandin to the new mill town. The Missouri Lumber company continued to cut yellow pine in the region for another ten years before selling the mill at West Eminence. [41]

Lumbering in the Ozarks involved more than large yellow pine operations. The Ozark forest, including the Current valley, contained mostly oak and hickory and the harvesting of the hardwoods was an ongoing enterprise throughout the mid nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Small logging operations predominated in cutting the hardwood forests. Hacking railroad ties was a major enterprise among these small operators. J. B. White and many of the other big pine lumbermen also participated in tie making, but their involvement focused on obtaining ties for their tramways, and they spent little time selling ties for profit. In addition to ties, woodsmen also harvested oak for flooring, wagon wheel hubs cooperage, and other wood products. The hickory was taken out for tool handles and much of the smaller pine left by the big operators was eventually cut as well. The many small operators played a role equal to the large corporations in exhausting the timber resources of the Current valley and surrounding Ozark uplands. [42]

Large scale mining operations did not move into the Current River basin as intensively as the big lumber companies. In other areas of the Ozarks, however, large corporate mining enterprises furthered the post-Civil War development of the Ozarks as a hinterland of the more populated industrializing areas. The primary example of a large scale rationalized mining business was the St. Joseph Lead Company that developed a major corporate lead mining operation at Bonne Terre in the St. Francis Mountains. A group of eastern capitalists founded the St. Joseph Lead Company in New York City toward the end of the Civil War. After a slow start, the St. Joseph Company became one of the leading lead smelters of the world under the guidance of J. Wymen Jones, president, and C. B. Parsons, general superintendent. Its land holdings in the St. Francis region grew from the original 964 acres in 1864 to 13,000 in 1892. The St. Joseph Company worked the mining operation at Bonne Terre for over ninety years. Overall, St. Joseph and the other companies in the St. Francis region produced lead valued at $59,870,000 between 1869 and 1906 and at $85,207,971 between 1907 and 1915. In 1917, the St. Joseph Lead Company, reflecting the lead demands of World War I, mined and smelted lead ore valued at $18,000,000. [43]

Like the lumber region, the introduction of railroads and large corporate organization into Ozark mining accelerated town development. Places such as Bonne Terre grew from frontier mining towns to communities with a wide range of modern conveniences. In the southwest Missouri Ozarks, the mining town of Joplin was founded in 1870 with the discovery of lead in the region and was a city of 3,000 people within four years. Joplin continued to grow through the nineteenth century based largely on the extraction of lead and zinc. A number of mining communities, such as Doe Run in the 1890s, boomed and then went bust. [44]

The mining of iron ore also developed more intensely in the St. Francis region, especially around Iron Mountain, than in the Current River basin. It had largely declined by the end of the First World War. In 1920, the Sligo furnace was the only major smelter still in operation in the southeast Ozarks. [45]

In the Current River basin, a Kansas City company constructed the only major iron furnace, a charcoal iron plant called Midco. Built in 1914, at the start of the Great War in Europe, the factory was located near Peck Spring two miles north of Fremont. Although it used some local iron, the plant imported most of its ore from Michigan and, at full capacity, burned as much as 240 cords of four-foot oak logs per day in the production of charcoal, wood alcohol, and pig iron. The United States government, after entering the war, required Midco to extract wood alcohol and funded much of the expansion of the plant to carry out the process. The federal government sold its part of the plant to the company after the war. The company also supported a number of improvements to its operation, including to the town building up around the plant. A railroad was built from Fremont, and a sizeable community of 3,000, with hotel and high school, sprung up around the factory. In the 1980s, however, ruins are the only physical remnants of Midco. [46]

The large-scale corporate pine lumber developments between 1870 and 1920 were the major catalysts of change in the Current River homeland. Commercial lumbering, however, was nothing new to the riverways. The major differences between the new lumber era and the pre 1870 lumber activities were visible in the scale and in the control of the operations. Instead of producing tens of thousands of board feet of lumber a year like the old water-powered sawmills, the corporate organized steam-powered mills annually produced tens of millions of board feet. Moreover, unlike the earlier decades, local owners did not run the large corporate pine mills for a local or regional market. Wealthy industrialists from outside the Ozarks owned and operated the modern corporate mills, and they marketed the timber on a national scale. Furthermore, the degree of change to the homeland sparked by the hinterland development of the new lumber era far exceeded the previous impacts of the earlier local lumber industry.

Base Map 3. The Hinterland, Railroad and Lumber Era 1860-1920, Ozark National Scenic Riverways. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

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Last Updated: 02-Mar-2005