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Research: Sawmill Database

Alpha-Numeric Key: LI-32
Corporate Name: George Gordon & Sons
Local Name:
Owner Name: George Gordon & Sons
Location: Five miles south of Liberty, on west bank of the Trinity River
County: Liberty
Years in Operation: 10 years
Start Year: 1870
End Year: 1879
Decades: 1870-1879
Period of Operation: 1870s
Town: South of Liberty
Company Town: 1
Peak Town Size: Unknown
Mill Pond:
Type of Mill: Lumber and ties
Sawmill Pine Sawmill Hardwood Sawmill Cypress Sawmill
Planer Planer Only Shingle Paper
Plywood Cotton Grist Unknown
Power Source: Steam engine and one boiler
Horse Mule Oxen Water
Water Overshot Water Turbine Diesel Unknown
Pit Steam Steam Circular Steam Band
Gas Electricity Other
Maximum Capacity: 
Capacity Comments: Unknown
Rough Lumber Planed Lumber Crossties Timbers
Lathe Ceiling Unknown Beading
Flooring Paper Plywood Particle Board
Treated Other
Equipment: Sawmill
Company Tram:
Associated Railroads: Texas and New Orleans
Historicial Development: Research by Jonathan Gerland into the George Gordon diaries and the Liberty Star State reveals that George Gordon and his sons operated a sawmill and steam boat business on the Trinity River during the 1870s. Their sawmill was one of many that supplied the needs of the Texas & New Orleans Railway Company in rebuilding its road through Liberty County after the Civil War. The newspaper article reported that the sawmill was located “five miles from town and ten miles by water, on the west bank of the Trinity River.” He bought the mill and erected it near the river on the W. D. Smith survey in 1873. Both of Liberty's prewar steam sawmills were inactive and Gordon hoped for a monopoly. The plant included a 54-inch circular saw, a large carriage and engine, and a boiler set in a brick foundation. Shade trees were planted around the mill. A house was built for his employees and a large wharf for storing the lumber waiting to be shipped to Liberty and other points. Much hardship occurred, however: two years for the mill to be operational, broken machinery, lack of experienced workers, and a scarcity of capital. He had to settle several accounts for lumber by accepting livestock in return. Flat boats sank in the river. The river washed away his wharf and lumber on several occasions. Although he placed a bid to provide the T&NO with 100,000 crossties, Gordon could not compete with the mills at Orange and Beaumont, which profited directly from rail transportation. When the T&NO built through Liberty in 1876, it bypassed the Gordon mill. He rarely ran his sawmill after 1876, concentrating on agricultural projects instead. He used the steam engine to grind corn. His sons continued to cut and haul wood for the steamboats, cut and bolt boards by hand for staves and shingles, and place large cypress logs in the river for export from the coast. The railroad's lack of interest in Gordon's mill put it out of business.
Research Date: JKG 12-14-93, MCJ 03-14-96
Prepared By: J Gerland, M Johnson