Northwestern Lumber Company records, 1887-1934

Overview of the Collection

Northwestern Lumber Company (Wash.)
Northwestern Lumber Company records
1887-1934 (inclusive)
13.67 cubic feet (9 boxes and oversize) plus 18 microfilm reels
Collection Number
Administrative records of a lumber company founded in 1882 as a sawmill
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2065431929
Fax: 2065431931
Access Restrictions

Consult the access restrictions information for each of the accessions listed below.

Some material stored offsite; advance notice required for use.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Early in 1882, the brig Orient entered Grays Harbor carrying necessary merchandise. The site selected for the mill was at the mouth of the Hoquiam River, and the land which now is the corrected plat of the city of Hoquiam, was purchased from a Mr. James. The mill was built as a unit of a string of mills owned by the Simpson Lumber Company of San Francisco, consisting of a mill at Coos Bay, Oregon, one at Knappton, one at South Bend, and the Hoquiam Mill in Washington.

This mill was erected under the supervision of George H. Emerson and began operating late in 1882 with Mr. Emerson as manager, and John E. Soule as his assistant, and was known as the Hoquiam Mill until 1894, when the Northwestern Lumber Company was incorporated as a California corporation, and the assets of the Hoquiam Mills consisting of the town site, saw mill, merchandise stock and about 6,000 acres of timberland which had been purchased by Mr. Emerson for the company were transferred to the corporation.

The principal stockholders of the corporation were A. M. Simpson and George H. Emerson. The officers were A. M. Simpson, President, George H. Emerson, Vice President, and Harry Pennell, Secretary. Mr. Emerson was general manager, and John F. Soule assistant.

The entire output of the mill, prior to 1897, except a few cargoes to South America, was shipped by water to San Francisco and sold through the Simpson Lumber Company

On June 15, 1896 the main part of the mill burned, but was immediately rebuilt and a planing mill, box factory, sash and door cutting plant, and dry kilns added.

About 1897 the Northern Pacific Railroad having reached the harbor, shipments by rail to eastern points began, and provided a market for a large part of the better grades of lumber, boxes and sash and door stock, while California continued to absorb large quantities of dimension and rough lumber. For a number of years the company specialized in the shipment of large and long timbers to the east coast, one shipment being a single timber 40 inches square, and 80 feet long, loaded on three flat cars.

In the meantime, the mercantile department grew to be the largest of its kind on Grays Harbor. In 1911 this business was transferred to the F. G. Foster Company a Washington corporation, Mr. Foster having been manager of that department for more than 20 years.

During the years subsequent to 1900, a shingle mill was operated whenever there was a market for that product. In 1901, C. H. Jones of Tacoma, Washington purchased from the Simpson Lumber Company a controlling interest in the Northwestern Lumber Company and was elected president, with George H. Emerson Vice-President, and John F. Soule secretary. Mr. Emerson being general manager, which position he resigned in 1903. On January 29, 1902, the company filed articles of incorporation under the laws of Washington and the California corporation was continued.

When Mr. Emerson resigned as general manager, Mr. E. O. McLaughlin who had represented the company as its agent in the east was brought to the coast to assume that position. He died in the latter part of 1912 and Thomas Hutchinson acted as manager during 1913 when F. J. Shields of Tacoma was sent by Mr. Jones to take the position, which he held until February 1, 1917, when he was replaced by Thorpe Babcock who was manager until 1928 when he was released.

November 29, 1922, C. H. Jones died, and his widow Mrs. Franke M. Jones was elected president, and though not active in the management, served in that capacity until July 16, 1925, when the minority stockholders contracted to purchase her stock, and elected Ralph D. Emerson president.

During the Babcock regime, some unfortunate things occurred. The main part of the mill burned in May 1918, leaving only the planing mill, box factory, dry kilns, and dry lumber sheds. The mill was rebuilt as soon as possible, and operation was resumed about the first of 1919. In the manufacture and sales of lumber products there was a change of policy, rail shipments being curtailed and cargo shipments increased.

December 23, 1925, the directors adopted a resolution declaring that as the company had no assets or property of any kind in California, it was not necessary to maintain a corporate entity in that state, and that corporation was dissolved.

In 1927, the company contracted to purchase a large tract of timberland in the North River Country, and to finance the purchase issued $750,000.00 of 6% bonds, and incurred other debts to open up the tract, by building camps, railroads and booms, and purchase of equipment, the cost of which was approximately $1.5 million. During this time a large tract of timber west of Hoquiam, already owned by the company, was being logged, the proceeds going into the new venture.

When Babcock was released, W. H. Dole was made manager of the manufacturing department, and A. W. Callow placed in charge of the logging end. This arrangement continued until 1932 when all operations ceased, and a settlement was made with the original owners of timber contracted for, by which the Northwestern Lumber Company retained that part which was fully paid for. The depression beginning in 1929, made profitable operation impossible, so it was necessary to arrange for a liquidation of the assets of the company.

History of the Northwestern Luber Company by W. C. Pettit, July 25, 1939.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Consult the scope and content information for each of the accessions listed below.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Consult the restrictions governing reproduction and use for each of the accessions listed below.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Organized into 2 accessions.

  • Accession No. 4287-001, Northwestern Lumber Company records, 1887-1934
  • Accession No. 4287-002, Northwestern Lumber Company records, 1891-1912

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Accession No. 4287-001: Northwestern Lumber Company records, 1887-1934Return to Top

13.67 cubic feet (9 boxes and oversize)

Scope and Content: Correspondence, financial records, ledgers, journals, cash books.

See also letterbooks of George H. Emerson on microfilm in accession 4287-002.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Records stored offsite; advance notice required for use.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights not transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info: Donated by Frank Lamb, 12/1/1941.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Accession
1 4287-001
1 4287-001
Claims for overcharging
1 4287-001
Financial records
3 volumes
1 4287-001
2 4287-001
Ledgers, journals, stock books, constitution and miscellaneous record books
3 4287-001
4 4287-001
4 4287-001
4 4287-001
Town lots (Hoquiam)
4 4287-001
4 4287-001
Insurance policy record
5 4287-001
5 4287-001
Land sales record
5 4287-001
Claims, discounts records
6 4287-001
Trial balances
7 4287-001
Freight journal
7 4287-001
Cash book
7 4287-001
Index volume
8 4287-001
8 4287-001
Timber land record
8 4287-001
Remittance journal
8 4287-001
Stock certificate record
9 4287-001
Miscellaneous financial records
10 4287-001
Payroll ledger
General Notes: Unbound ledger pages
11 4287-001
Cash book
OS Volume 1 4287-001
Cash book
OS Volume 2 4287-001
Sales analysis

Accession No. 4287-002: Northwestern Lumber Company records, 1891-1912Return to Top

22 volumes on 18 microfilm reels (positive)

Scope and Content: Letterbooks of George H. Emerson.

Restrictions on Access: No restrictions on access.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights not transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info: Source: Frank Lamb, Jr. ,1/1/1964.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Freight and freightage--Washington (State)
  • Lumber trade--Washington (State)
  • Lumbering--Washington (State)
  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)
  • Timber--Washington (State)

Personal Names

  • Adams, F. F
  • Beckman, Victor H
  • Chittenden, Hiram Martin, 1858-1917
  • Clapp, J. M
  • Congdon, Chester A
  • Dyer, Ralph B
  • Ellsbury, George H
  • Foster, Addison G
  • Green, Roger Sherman
  • Jones, Charles H
  • Pennell, Harry E
  • Perkins, Samuel
  • Sanborn, J. W
  • Weatherwox, C. B
  • White, C. F

Corporate Names

  • Columbia Harbor Land Company (Portland, Or.)
  • Grays Harbor Commercial Company
  • Grays Harbor Mills Company
  • Hoquiam Mill Company (Hoquiam, Wash.)
  • Northwestern Lumber Company (Wash.)--Archives
  • Northwestern Lumber Company (Wash.)--Records and correspondence
  • Olympic Oil Co
  • Wishka Boom Co

Other Creators

  • Personal Names
    • Emerson, George H., active 1882-1888 (creator)
    • Griffiths, Austin E. (Austin Edwards), 1863-1952 (creator)
    • Griggs, Everett G (creator)
    • Heermans, Harry Clay (creator)
    • Jones, Wesley Livsey, 1863-1932 (creator)
    • Lamb, Frank Haines (creator)
    • Mead, Albert Edward (creator)
    • Soule, John F (creator)
    • Squire, Watson C. (Watson Carvosso), 1838-1926 (creator)
    • Wilson, John Lockwood, 1850-1912 (creator)
    Corporate Names
    • Simpson Lumber Company (creator)