The First Sawmill

From The Green Valley, a book of reminiscences by Donald Green (1911-2003)

…When we moved to Coram in 1914, there were no mills and no signs that there had been any.

While Dad was building the log house on the homestead, he had to have some lumber for the floors and roof. There was a mill at Lake Five where they later put up ice for the Western Fruit Company in Whitefish. Dad hitched up a team to one of the wagons and put me on it. We headed for Lake Five, I was a very small boy then but I can still remember standing in that mill watching them sawing the logs into lumber. It was the first time I had seen a mill. I am sure that was when Dad got the idea of starting up a mill of his own. We had just moved in on the homestead with all the virgin timber on it.

After he got all the log buildings built on the homestead, he started to look around for a small mill. He finally found someone south of Columbia Falls that had one. They powered it with a Minneapolis steam tractor. The men said they would come up to Coram and set it up for him and he could hire them to run it. The steam tractor was driven from down in the valley to where they set the mill up. The men that drove it through the canyon sure had to know what they were doing because at that time the road through the canyon wasn’t much of a road. It was narrow and crooked with steep hills. This was about 1916. Dad had it running during World War One. This was the first saw mill set up near Coram.