Philomath’s identity as a timber town began to really take off about a century ago. (Photo by Hemera Technologies/Photo Images via Canva)

Philomath’s connection to the logging industry dates back to the town’s earliest years with a number of water-powered mills in the vicinity. But with limited transportation options, the mills served only the locals.

But in the following decades, the industry opened up to the rest of the world and Philomath began to develop an identity as a timber town. In the April 10, 1923 edition of the Corvallis Gazette-Times — published a century ago this week — a lengthy story appeared under the headline, “Philomath and Southwestern Country Profits Much From Lumbering.”

Following are excerpts from the story:

“A series of stories on rural progress which has characterized Benton county the past few years would scarcely be complete without reference to the Griswell & Sharpe Lumber Co. operating just west of Philomath at the little station called Flinn on the C. & E. branch of the Southern Pacific railroad, and at the foot of Pleasant Valley.

“Just now the company is building a new mill seven miles up the valley at the foot of the mountains, and the mill will be ready for operation very soon. A dam is being constructed on the little stream known as Blanchard creek where a log pond will be provided. From this mill the rough lumber will be transported to the planing mill at Flinn, which it is expected, will be in operation by April 1st, or before.

“Mr. Sharpe, junior member of the firm, is superintending the company’s Benton county interests. The planing mill will also handle the products of four other mills in the valley, and the Griswell & Sharpe company will furnish employment this season to thirty or forty men. The machinery from the old mill at Flinn Station is being transferred to the new mill up the valley. The daily capacity of this new enterprise will be about 20,000 feet, and the planing mill is capable of handling about 40,000 feet a day. With other small mills to furnish rough lumber, the company expects to run the planer at full capacity all summer.

“It is interesting to note the activity west of Philomath between seven and eight o’clock each morning when the men start from their homes in automobiles for their day’s work in the several mills and camps in the valley.

“Out towards Kings Valley, Henkle & Thorp of Mill City erected a small sawmill which was started a few days ago and which is giving employment to about eighteen men.

“Let it be remembered that the lumbering industry, although extensive, is only a small part of the industry in Pleasant Valley. Intensive farming is the chief factor at the present time. On either side of the good macadam road are to be seen progressive and prosperous agricultural, dairy and fruit farms, and truck farming is extensively followed in some localities. And at these places improvements are frequently noticed.”

150 years ago

Sold farm: On the 10 inst., A.R. Brown sold his farm 3 miles SW of Philomath, containing 442 acres to E. Woodward. Consideration, $2,300. (Published April 12, 1873, in the Corvallis Gazette).

Music directress: From the Oregonian we learn that Miss Elva Brayman, of Salem, has been appointed musical directress in Philomath College, and is expected to assume the duties of that position immediately. (Published April 12, 1873, in the Corvallis Gazette).

125 years ago

Bicycle paths: The county court has granted the petition of E.R. Lake and others, which asked for permission to build and maintain bicycle paths along the roads of Benton county. The paths must not exceed eight feet in width, must not interfere with vehicle travel nor with the drainage of the road. A path between Albany and Corvallis is the one first in the minds of the petitioners, and one to Philomath is also proposed. (Published April 8, 1898, in the Corvallis Gazette).

100 years ago

City charter: J.K. Weatherford and Arthur McMahan, attorneys of Albany, have been employed by Philomath to revise the city charter. The present charter was revised in 1905 and since that time many changes have taken place and revision is again necessary to conform to present conditions. It is proposed to increase the warrant limitation, which now is only 3 mills. Another feature to be remedied is the matter of compelling property owners to keep their sidewalks and streets abutting in good condition. By the present charter only a lien can be filed and recorded and years may elapse before cash can be collected. Some arrangement will have to be made to take care of the highway improvement.  (Published April 6, 1923, in the Corvallis Gazette-Times).

75 years ago

Fire department: The Philomath fire department continues to receive substantial donations to their equipment fund, the latest donation amounting to $1,000 given by the Clemens Forest Products Inc. The department is pleased with the liberal support given the firemen in their effort to provide the very best possible protection to the entire area. S.H. Moses is treasurer of the department and donations from anyone wishing to help the firemen in their fund-raising drive will be received by him. (Published April 10, 1948, in the Corvallis Gazette-Times).

50 years ago

Eighth Street: City councilmen turned down a proposed paving project for Eighth Street after a majority of property owners raised objections at a public hearing here Monday night. The consensus of Eighth Street residents attending the session was that they couldn’t afford the property assessments. Estimated cost of the project, which would take in three blocks from Main Street to the city limits, was $43,000. The council’s vote rejecting a petition for improvement of the street marked the second time the project has failed to gain majority approval of Eighth Street property owners. (Published April 10, 1973, in the Corvallis Gazette-Times).

Brad Fuqua

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.