The Wisconsin Alabama Lumber Company

“Last summer our little city was electrified when the press dispatch came from Chicago announcing the location of a million dollar lumber company in our midst.  The news seemed too good to be true, but soon the telegrams began to chase each other between Chicago and Sylacauga confirming the reports.  This event marked the dawn of a new era in the industrial history of the city.  Immediately men began coming here and inquiries from almost all points of the compass poured into the city.  As the full details of the plans of the big company became generally known, it was evident that the most enthusiastic reports which were first circulated were correct, and that Sylacauga was destined to become a great lumber center.

Not many miles from this town there is a tract of timber aggregating 35,000 acres. This piece of land has been untouched for all the centuries since pine has been growing.  It seemed to be safe from the sharp teeth of the hungry saw since it was securely isolated far from the noise of locomotives and other modes of transportation.  But the eagle eye of man had located it, and it was destined to fall a prey to human progress.  Since those days there have been organized and incorporated the Wisconsin Alabama Company with the following strong corps of executives: Edward J. Young, Madison, Wis., President: Fred M. Stephenson, Marinette, Wis., Vice-President: C. A. Goodman, Marinette, Wis., Treasurer: and W. C. Landon, Wausau, Wis., Secretary and General Manager.  Mr. Landon has been in Sylacauga directing building operations almost constantly since the organization of the company.

At present a village and mill plant are being built on a tract of about 200 acres just on the west side of town.  Forty residences are under course of construction all of which will be symmetrical and conforming to a general architectural scheme.  Several large buildings for the machinery are also in progress of erection which, when finished will form the several units of the big mill.

They have announced that they will begin sawing about July 1, just one year after organization.  This is considered almost an industrial miracle for it is no small matter to assemble the material and perfect the necessary equipment for such a huge thing as this in the brief period of twelve months.  The capacity of this mill will be 150,000 feet per day.  This fact shows that many hundred employees will be at work, and that the very best saw mill machinery will be installed.  The D. J. Murray Manufacturing Company, of Wausau, Wis. is furnishing all the equipment.  This vast system of machinery will be run by 800 H. P. driven engines.

In addition to this, there is 600 H. P. direct connected generator which generates power for 22 motors for driving planing mill and machine shop machinery.

The output of the Wisconsin Alabama Lumber Company will be distributed to the retail trade throughout the country, especially in the New England States.  Then a large quantity of large timbers will be sold to ship builders, at least for the period of the war.  One department of the mill will be used for the manufacture of these timbers.  Thus the Sylacauga district becomes directly Uncle Sam’s ally in defeating the submarines.  After the war these big timbers and other products of the mill will be exported.

At present there are about one hundred men at work on the construction of the plant. After operations begin, two hundred will be employed in the plant and three hundred in the woods.  Five hundred names will therefore constitute the pay roll of this big concern which is conservatively estimated at $20,000,000 per month.

A forty room hotel is about complete now on the grounds of the company.  It will be fully equipped with all the latest conveniences, such as waterworks, electric lights, and sanitary sewerage.  It is expected that many people not connected with the saw mill will visit this new hostelry when it is open to the public.

How are they going to get the timber from their Coosa tract into Sylacauga?  This is the first question usually asked by all who do not know.  Of course they can’t haul it in on “log carts.”  They are simply building a railroad connecting the timber with the mill.  This will extend a distance of 16.2 miles for the present.  Later it is possible it may be extended further and made one of the main arteries of trade reaching Sylacauga.  The road will be standard gauge, and will carry both freight and passengers.  Then after all the timber is cut from the land and hauled to the mill, the land will be improved for agricultural purposes.  This, however, will not be anytime soon, as it will require some fifteen to eighteen years to cut the timber even at the enormous rate of consumption the big mill can use it.

One of the most active men on the scene is Mr. W. J. Rowland, who holds the office of construction engineer in charge of operations.  Mr. Rowland comes from Vicksburg, Miss., and is a man of wide saw mill experience.

Mr. Edward H. Pike is the general superintendent over the entire enterprise.  He is from the distant city of Klamath Falls Oregon.  He has had extensive experience with the large lumber plants of the great Northwest.

Mr. W. C. Landon, who is secretary and general manager, is a man of great organizing and executive experience and He knows the saw mill business from the forest to the finished product.  He is a Mason, K. of P. and is a member of the Wausau Club of Wis. He was the president of this exclusive club for the two years previous to his leaving that city.

In his wide range of experience Mr. Landon has been connected with many big enterprises, and has guaranteed the success of each.  He is the managing director of the Foster Creek Lumber and Manufacturing Company, of Stephenson, Mississippi, a $1,500,000.00 concern.  He is also the president of the Baker and Stewart Lumber Company, of Wausaw, Wis., which is a $300,000 enterprise.  And now he is one of the big investors in the new Wisconsin Alabama Lumber Company.  In addition to these offices he has held and is holding, Mr. Landon has been quite active in the several organizations of the lumber people of the United States.  For two years he was president of the Wisconsin Michigan Hardwood Association, and for four years he was vice president of the National Lumber Manufacturers Association of Chicago.  This is some Lumber record for a man who does not appear to be over forty-five years of age.  And it is a certain prophecy of still larger achievements for this remarkable man.  May the success of the Wisconsin Lumber Company make him the recognized lumber king of America.”

Reference: The Sylacauga News.  Friday, March 29, 1918.