Clio Logo
This is a contributing entry and appears exclusively within that tour.Learn More.

Intro needed here

In August of 1929—just before a great depression would hit the nation—and a time when it seemed Old Town’s lumber industry was beginning to wane—a new mill was being built on the waterfront. It was an all-electric mill and was to be headed by Samuel “Ed” Gange.

The Gange Lumber Co. was a “Swedish gang saw” mill; this type of operation used multi straight saw blades which cut boards simultaneously from a log with as little waste as the old-fashioned large circular saw blade.

Gange Mill cut small logs and was an offshoot of the “big log” Defiance Lumber Co. The mill had no smoke stack or burner. Waste products—wood chips and bark, called “hogged fuel” was sold to local industries.

The pure sawdust was sold to local residents; it was one of the cleanest of fuels. A wood delivery-type truck was filled to the brim, then covered with a tarp. While wood was measured by the cord, a sawdust measurement was called a unit. Two units filled a truck. Sawdust was not fed into a basement with a chute (like a coal delivery). It was dumped as close as possible to a basement window and the resident was responsible for getting it inside. It was time consuming but not too laborious—unless it rained. Then it was a heavy, sticky mess to work with. It was the cleanest fuel but the method of getting it into the basement left a lot to be desired. A plywood “bin” in the basement held the huge pile. Many other mills provided sawdust as fuel but it was phased out in the early 1960s. Gange Lumber Co. operated until 1945 when it was sold to Donald Lyle, a plywood manufacturer. (Samuel Gange died in 1951 at age 68).

The Lyle Lumber Co. was in operation until 1954; it was sold to Donald Buchanan, who tried to keep the magnificent mill going. But union disputes kept it closed; Buchanan sold the machinery and the building sat abandoned for a number of years.

In 1961 the mill site—along with a big, beautiful crane—became the Caddigan Marina. The building could store up to 30 boats and the crane could lift the largest of boats from the water. In 1969 the facility became Cummings Marina. From the mid-1970s on, the site was mostly vacant; it sat through the 1980s before finally being razed.

Nerheim, J. N.. The History of Lumber Mills in Old Town. Tacoma, WA. Self-published, 2004.