The 1872 Report on the Lumber Regions

In the early spring of 1872 an article, "The Lumber Regions," appeared in the The Evening Gazette summarizing, in millions of board feet of lumber, the state of the industry in the Upper Delaware River Valley. Within days an excerpt, "Rafting on the Delaware," was published in The Delaware Republican, Delhi NY, followed by a reprint of the entire article in The Jeffersonian published in Stroudsburg PA.  Shortly thereafter The New York Times expanded the piece as, "The Lumber Trade. History of the Business in New York and Pennsylvania," making full use of the previously published figures, names of the owners and mill locations, as well as pointing out the risks and fortunes to be made for the investor. The perils of the trade overcome by the legendary raftmen are duly noted by The Times, though no mention is made in this period piece of the hardships endured by the child laborers or the horses and mules.
Herein the transcription of  the original article in The Evening Gazette, Port Jervis NY, published on April 11, 1872, with illustrations from (fortunately the same year of publication) the 1872 F. W. Beers map of Pike County PA.  Alas, no other maps of NY and PA counties were found with such ownership detail dating from the 1871 - 1872 period.

The Lumber Regions
What is Doing on the Delaware and its Tributaries
The Lumber that is Going Down the River
Where it all Comes From
Facts and Figures

The lumbermen in the regions up the river have had a busy winter, notwithstanding the lack of snow at many points.  The wheeling has been good, and probably as much sawed lumber has been "banked" as would have been had there been sleighing.  Not so with logs, although at and above Narrowsburgh large lumbers have been brought to the water.  Millions of feet of round lumber has been left in the woods owing to the absence of snow.  Considerable oak, ash and maple will be run down the river this season.  Pine has been growing scarcer each year for ten years in the forests along and adjacent to the Delaware, and the product now is very small - not enough, in fact, to supply the home demand, if operators were satisfied to dispose of it at home.

There is piled on the banks at
drawn the past winter, 1,500,000 feet of sawed hemlock, to be rafted this spring.  It was hauled from Johnson's mills, in Bethel, and from Morrison's.  There mills are all in a flourishing condition, although operations at the Brodhead tract have been somewhat limited since the death of John Brodhead.  Gen. Walker is still interested in this tract.  The lumber at Barryville was drawn on wagons, the nearest mill being 14 miles away.  The Johnson's are talking of building a wooden railway from their mill to the river.  To get 500,000 feet of lumber in the past winter cost them $5,000.

at Mast Hope, will probably send more pine to market this season than any other operators along the river.  They have an immense quantity banked ready for rafting, both sawed and round.

McIntyre & Holbert Saw Mills (on the left), Mast Hope Creek. Mills near Masthope on the Delaware (on the rt)1872.

has 2,000,000 feet of hemlock logs at Narrowsburgh, on the Pennsylvania side, to run this spring.

at Equinunk, have over 6,000,000 feet of lumber to run.  This firm has three steam circular mills, one alone having a capacity of 20,000 feet a day.  This mill has the largest engine of any in the whole section.  They will construct soon a shute from their mills, on the south branch of the Equinunk creek, to Cooley's, on the Delaware, between Little Equinunk and Hankins, a distance of five miles, for the purpose of running their lumber to the river.  It will be similar to that of Beales & Holcomb which will be described hereafter.  The shute will cost about $6,000.

of  Wayne County Pa., will ship 1,000,000 feet of hemlock and considerable other sawed stuff this Spring.  They haul their lumber three miles to Milanville, where it is banked.  Believing that an outlay of $3,000 to build a shute that distance will be economy in the end, they are about constructing one.  This firm is one of the most popular in the whole region.  Capt. Lennox, who has towed rafts from Trenton to Philadelphia for years, will put a new tugboat in the river this season, which he has named the Thomas Y. Boyd, in honor of the junior  member of the firm.

whose steam mill on the Little Equinunk, between Hankins and the Basket, was destroyed by fire a week before last, has 1,500,000 feet of hemlock to raft.  Mr. Young will probably dispose of it to other parties at home, in consequence of his losses by the fire, and not seek a market down the river.

has recently erected a new mill at the Basket.  They have 1,500,000 feet of lumber to raft this Spring.

the East Branch of the Delaware comes in.  This stream traverses the best lumber region.  Immense quantities of lumber come into the East Branch out of the Beaver Kill and its feed, the Willowemoc, which comes in at Westfield Flats, Delaware County.  Raftmen never have time to fool much with the Beaver Kill.  It is liable to a freshet at almost any moment, and lumbermen must be ready for it, and pull right out.  They say a railroad train has no business with a raft coming out of the Beaver Kill and Willowemoc creeks.

On the West branch rafts run some times from as far as Delhi, but the region thereabout is getting pretty well thinned out of lumber.  The heaviest operators along the West Branch are Samuel Sands, Stephen Whittaker, Geo. Hawks, and Marvin Wheeler of Hancock.  They are not manufacturers, but buy and sell on commission, and on speculation.  Mr. Wheeler probably superintends the running of as much lumber as any other man in the business.

The most extensive operators in the Beaver Kill region are
Their mill is on Trout Creek, a tributary of the Beaver Kill, having its head in Long Pond, in the town of Fremont, Sullivan County.  The mill is run by a 55-horse power turbine wheel.  The water comes from a reservoir covering 200 acres, and has a head of 26 feet at the wheel; four circular saws in the mill.  The capacity of the mill is about 5,000,000 feet a year.  The lumber tract belonging to this firm contains 5,000 acres.  A novel feature at these mills is the shute by which limber is "rafted" to the mouth of the Beaver Kill, seven miles distant.  It is made of heavy hemlock plank, and is 14 inches wide, and the same depth.  Water is supplied at the head, and there are several other feeders to make up the wastage.  In constructing it about 200,000 feet of lumber were used.  It was built three years ago this month.  A log is adjusted at the mill, and as fast as the boards are sawed off, they are run on rollers to the mouth of the shute, and in forty minutes they are on the bank of the East Branch.  Obstructions are kept out of the shute by boys, who are placed about every two miles. A continual line of lumber is running through during working hours.  This firm have in the neighborhood of 2,000,000 feet to raft this spring.

Devereaux & Clark have 1,600,000 feet of hemlock sawed, which they are hauling to the bank of the Delaware to raft this Spring.  They have a portable mill which is moved from one tract to another, where the lumber is sawed and hauled in to a raft.

Several million feet of hemlock logs will be rafted from Hales' Eddy, and Henry Evans has from 800,000 to 1,000,000 feet of hemlock at his mill.

This rough and rapid stream traverses a fine lumber section in Sullivan county.  It starts in the town of Bethel, and empties into the Delaware at Delaware Bridge, in the town of Tusten, above Mast Hope.  Stanton & Calkins have a large steam saw mill on this stream, and have 1,000,000 feet of sawed hemlock to run this spring.  They bring their logs into the mill from the woods by a wooden railroad.  Their mill was erected last summer.  Previous to that their lumber was all sawed at Lockemeyer's mill, the logs being floated down the stream to the mill.  The capacity of the Stanton & Calkins' new mill is about 2,000,000 feet a year.

Nathan Calkins & Bro. have manufactured about a million feet at their mill on Ten Mile River.  Calkins & Van Tuyl, at their mill on the East Branch of Ten Mile River, have several thousand feet of logs to run.  They generally get out a large number, but owing to the absence of snow their run this spring will be light.  They have a tract of 1,500 acres at the head waters of the East Branch.  Their mill is run by water, a large reservoir supplying the power in dry weather.

Willzinski's mill has from 500,000 to 800,000 manufactured hemlock.

Like all the lumber regions in this section, hemlock takes the lead on Ten Mile River.  There is considerable second growth pine, which presents a very handsome appearance when sawed, but is not stable.  Ten Mile River is not navigable for rafts, and the lumber is hauled to the bank of the Delaware by teams from the mills, which are distant from three to eight miles.

The Lackawaxen River is the largest tributary to the Delaware, and immense quantities of lumber annually find a market from the vast region that this stream afford an outlet to.  The Wallenpaupack creek empties into it at Hawley, and the Dyberry creek at Honesdale, down which millions of feet are run, and swell the grand aggregate on the Delaware

Brink, Holbert, and Kimble - Lumber Merchants, Lackawaxen PA, 1872.

whose mills are on the Dyberry, five miles above Honesdale, have 1,000,000 feet of hemlock ready to be rafted.  E. & G. Kimble have a mill farther up the creek.  They send also a large amount of lumber to market.  Kimble & Stanton are among the most extensive operators in the Lackawaxen region -- Farnham and Collingwood, at Wilsonville, being the only firm exceeding them at present.

Hawley is the first place that rafting has commenced this season.  The Paupack is navigable for rafts from Ledgedale, 14 miles up, to the Falls at Hawley, where the lumber has to be taken out of the water and hauled to Hawley, where it is banked and rafted, or shipped by canal and railroad.  Since the opening of the Hawley Branch of the Erie Railway, the amount of lumber rafted from Hawley has decreased materially.  Lumbermen from up the Paupack seeking a Philadelphia market have a precarious undertaking.  They start down the Paupack with rafts, and they must trust to luck from the freshet to hold out while they take out, haul, and re-raft their lumber in the Lackawaxen.  If the freshet continues, they go on down the river; if not, the lumber is piled up to await the next freshet, causing very frequently serious embarrassment to the operators.

At Ledgedale are the extensive mills of
B.G. MORSS &  CO.,
They rattled 1,200,000 feet of hemlock to Hawley this season, where it was bought by George Hittinger and Ed. Malone, who are rafting it at that place.

The upper waters of the Paupack furnish power for many mills, and Green township, Pike county, has an abundance of them. Horace Kip, the Gilpins, Borse & Bortree, and others, are among the minor lumber operators.  Some of their lumber reaches the market by the river, but most of it is hauled to Gouldsboro, on the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western RR, and shipped by rail.

H.E. Kip's Saw Mill on the South Branch of the Wallenpaupack, 1872.

The Promised Land Mills, in Pike county, now owned by Dr. Jos. Jones of Honesdale, manufactures lumber extensively.  There mills are twelve miles from Hawley, and the lumber is hauled to that place by teams.  Dr. Jones purchased this tract two or three years since.  It is one of the most valuable for timber in the whole section, and the proprietor recently exchanged half of it with a society of Shakers for a valuable tract of land in Herkimer county, N. Y.  He has a large amount of lumber on the bank of Hawley, which he intends to raft.

Dr. Joseph Jones' "The Promised Land Mills" at the head of Paupack Creek, 1872.

are the most extensive operators on the river.  About two years ago Mr. Farnham bought 3,000 acres of timber land in Pike county, of Hon. John Shouse, paying the handsome sum of $60,000 for it.  Subsequently he disposed of half of it to Mr. Collingwood, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and the two went into the lumber business at his mills in Wilsonville; three miles above Hawley.  They run three circular saws and their capacity is 40,000 feet a day.  There are at present at the mills 6,000,000 feet of logs and the firm expects to ship 2,000,000 feet of sawed stuff this Spring.  Their lumber is shipped entirely by rail and canal, for Newburgh and Poughkeepsie.

Farnham, Collingwood & Co.'s Saw Mills, Wilsonville on the Wallenpaupack Creek, 1872.

Joseph Atkinson, of Paupack, is doing a lively business at his mills at that place.  His lumber is mostly taken by the Delaware & Hudson Canal Co.  Mr.  Atkinson has considerable poplar this season, as well as the more common lumber.  This mill has a capacity of 800,000 or 1,000,000 feet a year.

Joseph Atkinson's Saw Mill on Mill Brook, tributary of the Wallenpaupack Creek, 1872.

Ames & Bro. and the Purdy's, at Purdytown; Hittinger at Coopertown; Ephraim Kimble, at the Narrows; G. H. Rowland, at Rowland, and many other manufacture lumber to a greater or less extent in that vicinity, most of which is sent down the river.

Rowland Brothers' Saw Mill and M. Brink, Lumber Merchant, both lower right, on the Lackawaxen, 1872.

The New York Times on the oft times wild river's most dreaded passage between Lackawaxen and tidewater at Trenton:

Foul Rift on the Delaware.  (c) 2016, The New York Times -  May 9, 1872.

"Harris Kingsbury, a raftman, who lived near
Hancock, was drowned at Foul Rift on Tuesday.  This is a very rough and dangerous place, about sixty miles south of Port Jervis, in the Delaware river.  He was standing near the edge of the raft.  As he was in the act of dipping his oar, it was caught by an opposing current of water, and it threw him into the surging flood fifteen or twenty feet from the raft.  His friends threw a rope towards him from the raft, but he failed to catch it, and sank.  His body has not been found at last accounts."  ~ The Evening Gazette., April 25, 1874. 

"Foul Rift, one mile below Belvidere, N.J., is little more than a mile in length through which a raft rushes at the rate of from 10 to 20 miles an hour, according to the height of the water.  At the foot of the rift is an eddy along the Pennsylvania shore in which the water whirls, sometimes running up stream, some times down.  It was into this eddy that Kingsbury was thrown by his oar last April.  Being caught in one of the whirls he was soon beyond the reach of human aid. - The Evening Gazette., August 13, 1874

The tombstone of Harris Kingsbury at the Kingsbury Hill Cemetery, Wayne Co PA, bears the inscription "was downed at foul rift."  ~ photo courtesy Find A Grave contributor, psc.


"Report on the Lumber Regions" Surnames: Ames, Atkinson, Beale, Borse, Bortree, Boyd, Branning, Brink, Brodhead, Calkins, Clark, Collingwood, Devereaux, Dodge, Evans, Farnham, Gilpin, Hawks, Hittinger, Holbert, Holcomb, Johnson, Jones, Kimble, Kingsbury, Kip, Lennox, McIntyre, Morrison, Morss, Purdy, Rowland, Sands, Shouse, Stanton, Tyler, Van Tuyl, Walker, Wheeler, Whittaker, Wood, Young.

Additional reading at Minisink Valley Genealogy:

"NINE thousand acres of land, situate on the river Lachawaxen, about ten miles from Delaware river, and about one hundred miles from Trenton-Landing, to which large boats and rafts do commonly run from Lachawaxen in two or three days.  On this tract there is a great quantity of white and yellow pines of every size, from an eighty feet mast to the size of a spar; the pines are straight and thrifty, and are equal to any on the Delaware for masts, spars or boards...."

Rich in period detail, the advertisement for land "situate on the river Lachawaxen" came to light while researching that variant of "Lackawaxen" in America's Historical Newspapers.  The ad, at varying length, would run from November 1784 to April of 1785 in the New Jersey Gazette, the Pennsylvania Packet and the Pennsylvania Journal.... (con't)

Special thanks to Tom Tryniski of for hours of fascinating research on his site and The Evening Gazette news clip of "The Lumber Regions" transcribed above.  Donations to his efforts, through Paypal or in the form of good used hard drives, will no doubt be welcome.

The Evening Gazette, Port Jervis NY, June 30, 1883