The American Lumberman Photographic Collection contains more than 300 vintage prints made by American Lumberman photographers during visits to Diboll, Texas, in 1903 and 1907. Many of the images appeared in American Lumberman issues of 16 April 1904 and 18 January 1908. The collection of images and photographer's supporting notes document the early operations of Southern Pine Lumber Company and Texas Southeastern Railroad, providing insight into the early twentieth-century community life of a Texas sawmill company town and its connected logging camps.
Historical note: The town of Diboll was hewn from virgin pine forests in southern Angelina County, Texas, early in 1894. Young lumberman Thomas Lewis Latane Temple (1859-1935) of Texarkana organized Southern Pine Lumber Company in 1893 and purchased land and timber from Joseph Copes Diboll (1861-1925), naming for him the new industrial company town. Southern Pine Lumber Company quickly became a stable industry leader, becoming Temple Industries in 1963 and a public stock company in 1969. Time Inc. acquired Temple Industries in 1973 and merged it with Eastex Pulp and Paper Company, forming the subsidiary Temple-Eastex. After Time Inc. spun off its forest products division in late 1983, Temple-Inland, Inc. was formed. The Campbell Group acquired most of Temple-Inland's strategic forest lands in 2007 and International Paper Company acquired what remained of Temple-Inland in 2011-2012, selling the building products division to Georgia Pacific in 2012-2013. The city of Diboll incorporated in 1962 and today has a population of about 5,000.
Credit Line: American Lumberman Photograph Collection, courtesy of The History Center, Diboll, Texas.
Large Pine with Sawyers
One of Texas' Shortleaf Giants, 1903. Southern Pine Lumber Company woods sawyers pose with a shortleaf pine near Lindsey Springs logging camp, Angelina County. Lindsey Springs, located about seven miles northeast of Diboll, was a Southern Pine Lumber Company logging camp from about 1898 to 1906. According to the federal census of 1900, the community then had a population of 110.
Cross Tie Gang
Southern Pine Lumber Company workers laying railroad crossties in the woods, 1903. Temporary right of ways were constructed to provide access to logging sites and lumber camps, and to provide a means to transport the logs back to the sawmills
Logging Camp No 1
Southern Pine Lumber Company's Camp No. 1 in Trinity County, about twelve miles northwest of Diboll, in 1907. At the time, seventy-five men, some with families, lived at the camp. Only the women and children were home when this photo was made in the middle of the day. The camp existed from 1907 to about 1912, when it moved and combined with other camps in Houston and Angelina counties. The former camp area became the headquarters of Southern Pine Lumber Company's cattle ranching during the 1920s.
High wheeled log cart
A high-wheeled, slip-tongue log skidder with its teams and driver in 1903. The driver would straddle the cart over felled logs, where dangling tongs would be positioned to raise the end of a log off the ground when the mules pulled the tongue forward, allowing the log to "skid" along under the cart's rolling wheels.
Camp 2 Mule Teams
Five four-mule logging teams of Southern Pine Lumber Company's Camp 2, November of 1907. Camp 2 was also known as Iris and was located in Trinity County, operational between 1907-1912. According to the January 18, 1908 American Lumberman, the camp employed 100 people and was located about 17 miles northwest of Diboll, Texas. In 1908 it had 75 portable houses, and was supplied with water by surface wells.
Steam Skidder and Crew
A Southern Pine Lumber Company steam skidder and crew, possibly near the Pineland area operations. This photograph was taken in November of 1907. The steam skidder was used to drag logs from the logging areas into a more open area to be loaded onto logging railroad cars. The company began using them in the 1910s, a practice that was highly controversial due to its destruction of young timber growth and injuries or death to crewmen. The company used steam skidders well into the 1920s.
McGiffert Loader with Raised Wheels
A McGiffert steam log loader in the woods near Southern Pine Lumber Company logging operations in 1903. Four crew members stand nearby. This photograph demonstrates how the McGiffert's wheels were designed to elevate and allow log cars to pass on the track beneath the loader for efficient log loading.
Steam Log Loader
A steam log loader and crew load pine logs onto cars in Trinity County bound for mills at Diboll in 1907.
Neches Valley Log Train
Neches Valley Pine bound for Diboll, 1907. Texas South-Eastern Railroad Engine 7 (a 1906 coal-burning Baldwin 44-ton Ten-wheeler) and crew pose with a pine log train on the mainline just west of Diboll. Engine 7 was one of eight locomotives then used by Texas South-Eastern Railroad in its Diboll operations.
Hardwood Log Train
Neches Valley Hardwood bound for the Diboll mills, 1907. At this time Southern Pine Lumber Company was quickly becoming the dominant land owner of upper Neches River timberlands, which contained vast forests of high grade hardwoods in addition to substantial pine forests.
Unloading Logs into the Pond
Southern Pine Lumber Company mill pond workers unloading logs into the pond, November of 1907. Logs were transported to the mill by rail in the early twentieth century until giving way to trucks by mid-century.
Atop the Endless Chain Incline
A view of the Southern Pine Lumber Company log pond from the top of the endless chain incline, showing a log on the chain. Logs were attached to the chain at the bottom of the ramp and pulled upwards into the sawmill. This photograph was taken in November of 1907.
Sawmill 1 Exterior View
The Southern Pine Lumber Company log pond and yellow pine saw mill - view upright from plate, November 1907. This mill was known as Mill No. 1 and was built in 1904 in 104 days. It was a double carriage band saw mill of 125,000 board feet capacity.
Sawmill 1 Aerial View
An aerial view of sawmill No. 1 and the mill pond from the water tower, Southern Pine Lumber Company, Diboll, TX, 1903. It was built in 1903 as a double carriage band saw mill of 125,000 board feet capacity and was completed in 104 days. It replaced the earliest company mill of 50,000 board feet capacity, which was built in 1894.
Sawmill 1 Interior View
Interior of the Southern Pine Lumber Company yellow pine saw mill from the log end, showing the log carriage, log deck, and double band saws. The yellow pine mill was also called Mill No. 1, and was built in 1903 in 104 days. This photograph was taken in November of 1907.
Sawmill 2 Exterior View
A view of the Southern Pine Lumber Company hardwood mill from the unloading dock looking south -- logs on ramp and four cars on track, November of 1907. The hardwood mill was known as Mill No. 2 and was built between 1906 and 1907. It was dismantled in 1954.
Sawmill 2 Interior View
An interior view of the Southern Pine Lumber Company hardwood mill from the log end, November 1907. The hardwood mill was known as Mill. No. 2 and was built between December 1906 and April 1907. It was a single carriage band mill that cut both hardwoods and pine.
Saw Filing Room in Mill No. 1
Filing room of the Southern Pine Lumber Company yellow pine saw mill, also called Mill No. 1, November of 1907. The saws in this image are band saws. A difficult skill to master, saw filers were among the mill's highest paid employees.
Interior of Machinery and Repair Shop
Interior of the Southern Pine Lumber Company machinery and repair shop - view taken from the N.E. corner, showing trip-hammer and forge in the foreground, November 1907.
Planing Mill Aerial View
An aerial view of the Southern Pine Lumber Company planing mill and planing mill power house from the old water tower, November of 1907. The planing mill was the final processing plant for lumber where it was dressed and patterned the wood into different stocks.
Lath Mill Interior View
An image showing the interior of the Southern Pine Lumber Company lath mill with workers nearby machinery, Diboll, Texas, 1903.
Dry Kiln Aerial View
A view of the Southern Pine Lumber Company of Diboll, Texas, looking at dry kilns from the south. This view is from the roof of the rough lumber shed, taken in November of 1907.
Lumber Yard with Company Housing
An aerial photograph of the Southern Pine Lumber Company lumber yard with company housing in the background, 1903. Diboll, Texas.
Loading Lumber on Box Cars
Loading lumber behind the Southern Pine Lumber Company planing mill. Note the awkward curved loading platform along the tracks of the Texas South-Eastern Railroad.
No 3 and Box Car Train 1903
A Day's Shipment from Diboll, 1903. Texas South-Eastern Railroad Engine 3 (an 1897 Baldwin 51-ton Mogul) and crew pose with a train of lumber-laden box cars at Diboll. Note the split wood fuel in the tender and the brakemen on the wooden car tops. By 1907 Diboll shipped about 4,000 cars of lumber annually, most of which traveled over Texas South-Eastern rails to nearby Lufkin for delivery to the St. Louis Southwestern Railway, better known as the Cotton Belt Route.
Thomas Lewis Latane Temple
Mr. T. L. L. Temple, founder of Southern Pine Lumber Company and the Texas South-Eastern Railroad Company, in a private office in Texarkana, Arkansas. This view is looking inwards from Mr. Gilbert's office. The photograph was taken in November of 1907.
Southern Pine Lumber Company's Employees
Some of Southern Pine Lumber Company's employees pose along the tracks of the Houston East & West Texas Railway in front of the company store at Diboll on 4 November 1907. The company store was the geographic and social center of the community.
Southern Pine Lumber Company Commissary
Interior scene of the Southern Pine Lumber Company commissary, or company store, in 1903. Stocking almost everything carried by a modern "superstore" as well as such items as fiddle strings, horse collars, coffins and caskets, it was a complete shopping center and mall under one roof. It also contained doctors' offices, a drug store, and the post office.
Teacher J.W. Hogg and students
Teacher J.W. Hogg of Diboll poses with his students in 1907. Reported average daily attendance at this segregated school for Diboll's black children was forty students. The school year then was seven months, beginning on September 30. According to Angelina County School Superintendent's records for this time, Mr. Hogg received his diploma from Prairie View Normal Institute and held a lifetime teaching certificate.
White School House and students
Average attendance at this three-room schoolhouse for Diboll's white children was reportedly 150 when this image was made in 1907. The teachers at the time were W.A. O'Quinn, principal; W.A. Wofford, first assistant; and Mrs. Robert Kirby, second assistant in charge of first and second grades.
Tennis Courts 1907
The Diboll Athletic Society's tennis court amid the lumber yards, 1907.
Southern Pine Lumber Company Baseball Team
The Southern Pine Lumber Company baseball nine of the Diboll Athletic Society, group on the baseball grounds, November 1907. According to the January 18, 1908 edition of American Lumberman, the Athletic Society was created by the company for young men with "semiexecutive positions such as office work and the various positions that are given out to young men of quality."