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Research: Tram & Railroad Database

Code: 95
Corporate Name: Cow Creek Tram & Railway Company
Folk Name:
Ownership: Cow Creek Tram Company, Industrial Lumber Company; Kirby Lumber Company, Mill G. Bought by Santa Fe in 1936.
Years of Operation: ca. 1890 to 1954
Track Type:
Standard Gauge Wooden Rails
Track Length: Thirty
Locations Served: Call (Jasper)
Counties of Operation:
Line Connections:
Track Information:
Tram Road Logging / Industrial Common Carrier Logging Camp
History: The Cow Creek Tram Company was originally organized by Dennis Call and George Adams in Orange in 1890 to build and operate railroad tram lines for the purpose of harvesting logs for the Orange sawmills. Dennis Call built the Call mill, however, when John Henry Kirby's Gulf Beaumont & Kansas City railway penetrated the Cow Creek territory. Construction began in January 1896 near the GB&KC tracks; by November, the mill was cutting 85,000 feet daily. A large export company, Industrial Lumber Company of Beaumont, leased the mill in1898, presumably because of poor Texas market conditions due to overproduction. The mill burned in June 1899; only the planing mill was saved. The mill was soon rebuilt, and the Industrial Lumber Company continued the lease until 1901, when Cow Creek Lumber Company sold the mill to the newly organized Kirby Lumber Company. Kirby Lumber assumed operations on January 1, 1902, and operated it until it was destroyed by fire in 1924. Under contract, Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company rebuilt it as a hardwood mill, “probably the largest hardwood mill that has ever been built.” All modern improvements and conveniences were added, including concrete ground floors. The Call sawmill was closed about 1953, and its operations were consolidated into the new Silsbee plant. In 1906, its logging railroad had ten miles of standard gauge track. The Call sawmill was one of Kirby's best producing mills. It was also one of the largest, but not the largest. For some reason, however, Call employed 905 workers at the mill in 1918, more than at any other Kirby millnearly 200 more than at Bessmay, Kirby's largest mill. The mill had an electric light plant and ran double shifts often. Cow Creek ran logging trams from the earliest days; that was its purpose from the beginning. Later, Kirby Lumber ran tram lines, harvesting some of the L. Miller timberlands in Newton County, while Miller-Link used Kirby Lumber logs from Whitman's Bluff on the Sabine. In 1928, Kirby Lumber was still operating a twelve-mile logging tram. Keeling lists thirty miles of tram road for the company at one time.