Port Blakely Mill Company records, 1876-1998

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Port Blakely Mill Company
Title
Port Blakely Mill Company records
Dates
1876-1998 (inclusive)
1876-1958 (bulk)
Quantity
193.31 cubic feet
Collection Number
0001
Summary
Records of the lumber mill
Repository
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
98195-2900
Telephone: 2065431929
Fax: 2065431931
speccoll@uw.edu
Access Restrictions

Access restricted: For terms of access, contact Special Collections

Some material stored offsite; advance notice required for use.

Languages
English

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Lumber mill.

At its height, the Port Blakely Mill Company was the largest on the Pacific Coast, and possibly in the entire world. Captain William Renton founded it in 1863 on Bainbridge Island, directly across from Seattle in the Puget Sound. Within a year the mill was turning out 50,000 board feet a day. The PBMCo expanded rapidly, as did the timber industry in Washington territory generally. (In the 1880s, the territory’s annual timber production soared from 160 million board feet to over a billion). Although the California market was the most crucial, the PBMCo shipped its lumber throughout the Pacific Rim. The PBMCo briefly tried to enter the European market, but the long voyage around South America posed too great of a logistical challenge for consistent shipments to Europe.

In 1876, Renton incorporated the company in San Francisco with new partner Charles S. Holmes. Prior to 1885, the PBMCo obtained all its logs by contract with independent operators, since Renton did not want to take on either the additional risk or capital investment of logging camps. The decreasing supply of accessible high-quality lumber and the steady inflation in log prices led him to change his policy. He noted in 1864 that timber “contiguous to the Sound is nearly exhausted.” The company purchased land north of Olympia, and constructed the Puget Sound and Grays Harbor Railroad to transport the logs. By 1891, the company held 80,000 acres of timber land. A fire destroyed the mill in 1888, but a new one, larger and more efficient, was in operation within the year.

The PBMCo would face other stiff challenges in the 1890s, and would do so without the guidance of Renton, who died in 1891. A devastating depression swept the United States in 1893, forcing the company to operate in a hostile economic climate. It also faced increased competition from eastern mills moving into the Pacific Northwest. The St. Paul and Tacoma Lumber Company managed to rival PBMCo’s position as the largest mill in the region during the 1890s. Weyerhaeuser entered the region in 1900, purchasing 900,000 acres of timberland. The PBMCo became increasingly ill-suited for competition with firms better located for participation in the rail and cargo trades.

In February 1903 Renton’s heirs sold the company to two men from Michigan, David E. Skinner and John W. Eddy. The mill burned again in 1907, and the one built to replace it was much smaller. By 1912, the new mill operated only sporadically. Demands generated by the First World War temporarily returned the mill’s economic viability; after the war, the demand crashed, and so did the mill’s brief economic resurgence. Eddy and Skinner closed it in 1922 and divided the PBMCo’s assets. The defunct mill was dismantled in 1924. Eddy bought out Skinner in that same year, and from that point forward the PBMCo relied upon its timber holdings and was exclusively an Eddy family concern.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Correspondence, ledgers, journals, cash receipts, minutes, financial records, payroll records, legal documents, tax records. Plans of company facilities and equipment, and other records related to the operation of this firm and of other logging companies acquired by it; tape recorded interview, videotaped documentary on the early history of the mill.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Creator's literary rights retained. Contact Special Collections for details.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Arrangement

Organized into 9 accessions.

  • Accession No. 0001-001, Port Blakely Mill Company Records, 1876-1923
  • Accession No. 0001-002, Oral history interview with Victor Hugo Elfendahl regarding Port Blakely Mill Company, 1958
  • Accession No. 0001-003, Port Blakely Mill Company record book, 1896-1918
  • Accession No. 0001-004, Port Blakely Mill Company records, 1887-1944
  • Accession No. 0001-005, Port Blakely Mill Company records, 1876-1923
  • Accession No. 0001-006, Port Blakely Mill Company records, 1892-1961
  • Accession No. 0001-008, Port Blakely Mill Company records, 1906-1907
  • Accession No. 0001-009, Port Blakely Mill Company records, 1905-1957
  • Accession No. 0001-010, "Port Blakely Mill Company -- the Early Years" documentary, 1998

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

 

Accession No. 0001-001: Port Blakely Mill Company Records, 1876-1923Return to Top

115.18 cubic feet

Scope and Content: Company records

Restrictions on Access: Access restricted: For terms of access, contact Special Collections

Some material stored offsite; advance notice required for use.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights retained. Contact repository for details.

Acquisition Info: Donated by Garrett Eddy of PBM Co., Seattle, 8/18/54 via Forest History Foundation, 2/1/58, 8/18/1954

Description
Port Blakely Mill Company Records

Accession No. 0001-002: Oral history interview with Victor Hugo Elfendahl regarding Port Blakely Mill Company, 1958Return to Top

1 folder

Scope and Content: Interview conducted by Richard C. Berner with V. H. Elfendahl in Nov 1958 concerning Port Blakely Mill Company. V. H. Elfendahl was Assistant Manager at Port Blakely Mill Company.

Restrictions on Access: Access restricted: For terms of access, contact Special Collections.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights retained. Contact repository for details.

Acquisition Info: Donated by Mr. Garrett Eddy, 8/18/1954.

Description
Oral history interview with Victor Hugo Elfendahl regarding Port Blakely Mill Company

Accession No. 0001-003: Port Blakely Mill Company record book, 1896-1918Return to Top

2 microfilm reels (pos., neg., 73 frames each)

Scope and Content: Record book.

Item is called "Record book no. 2"; its contents are: Vessels and cargos leaving Port Blakely Mill co., 1896-1918; Log spars bought, 1902-1903.

Restrictions on Access: Access restricted: For terms of access, contact Special Collections.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights retained. Contact repository for details.

Acquisition Info: Loaned for Filming by Seattle Historical Society, 9/1/1965.

Description
Port Blakely Mill Company record book

Accession No. 0001-004: Port Blakely Mill Company records, 1887-1944Return to Top

53.20 cubic feet

Scope and Content: Ledgers, journals, cash receipts, correspondence, miscellaneous.

Restrictions on Access: Access restricted: For terms of access, contact Special Collections.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights retained. Contact repository for details.

Acquisition Info: Donated by Garrett Eddy, 5/8/1974.

Description
Port Blakely Mill Company records

Accession No. 0001-005: Port Blakely Mill Company records, 1876-1923Return to Top

25 microfilm reels : negative

Scope and Content: Microfilm of letterpress copybooks (outgoing letters), 1876-1907; outgoing letters, 1878-1923.

Restrictions on Access: Access restricted: For terms of access, contact Special Collections.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights retained. Contact repository for details.

Acquisition Info: Filmed from the originals in the UW Libraries MSS Collection, 5/1/1978.

Description
Port Blakely Mill Company records

Accession No. 0001-006: Port Blakely Mill Company records, 1892-1961Return to Top

9.40 cubic feet plus 2 oversize volumes

Scope and Content: Correspondence, minutes, financial records, legal documents, tax records.

Restrictions on Access: Access restricted: For terms of access, contact Special Collections.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights retained. Contact repository for details.

Acquisition Info: Donated by PBM Co., 3/13/1979.

Description
Port Blakely Mill Company records

Accession No. 0001-008: Port Blakely Mill Company records, 1906-1907Return to Top

.17 cubic foot (4 items in oversize package)

Scope and Content: Plans, 1907; mortgage, 1906.

Plans are of company facilities and equipment on Bainbridge Island, Wash. and were exhibits in a court case in 1909.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights retained. Contact repository for details.

Acquisition Info: Donated by Washington State Archives.

Description
Port Blakely Mill Company records

Accession No. 0001-009: Port Blakely Mill Company records, 1905-1957 (bulk 1905-1945)Return to Top

12.00 cubic feet (11 boxes)

Scope and Content: Correspondence, financial records, payroll records, and other records related to the operation of this firm and of other logging companies acquired by it.

Restrictions on Access: Access restricted: For terms of access, contact Special Collections.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights retained. Contact repository for details.

Acquisition Info: Donated by Port Blakely Mill Company, 7/18/1994.

Description
Port Blakely Mill Company records

Accession No. 0001-010: "Port Blakely Mill Company -- the Early Years" documentary, 1998Return to Top

.21 cubic foot (1 box including 1 VHS videotape, 65 min.)

Scope and Content: Videotaped documentary on the early history of one of the earliest sawmills and timber companies on Puget Sound, ca. 1863-1923, and James G. Eddy's support of forest genetics in the earlier 20th Century. Includes comments by former chairman of Port Blakely Mill Company Garrett Eddy, historians Robert Ficken and Andrew Price, forestry professor Robert G. Lee, current CEO of Port Blakely Mill Company Jim Warjone, and Paul Skinner of the Skinner Company together with quotations from historical sources, historical photographs, maps and moving images. The videotape was produced by Northlight Communications in 1998.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use: Copyright retained by Northlight Communications.

Acquisition Info: Donated by Port Blakely Tree Farms, 1/15/1999.

Description
"Port Blakely Mill Company -- the Early Years" documentary

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)
  • Planing-mills--Washington (State)--Bainbridge Island--Archives
  • Planing-mills--Washington (State)--Port Blakely--Archives

Personal Names

  • Elfendahl, Victor Hugo--Interviews
  • Renton, William, 1818-1891

Corporate Names

  • Port Blakely Mill Company--Archives
  • Port Blakely Mill Company--Records and correspondence
  • Winslow (Ship)

Titles within the Collection

  • Port Blakely Mill Company--the Early Years

Other Creators

  • Personal Names
    • Berner, Richard C (interviewer)
    • Clasby, John (creator)
    • Elfendahl, Victor Hugo (interviewee)
    • Gardinier, Frank (creator)
    • Scharf, A. L (creator)
    • Sherrard, William Robert (creator)
    • Siler, Charles (creator)
    • Siler, H. O (creator)
    • Wright, Raymond G (creator)
    Corporate Names
    • Brown & Brown, Inc. (Portland, Or.) (creator)
    • Charles R. McCormick Lumber Co (creator)
    • Florence Logging Company (creator)
    • Pacific Northwest Loggers Association (creator)
    • Puget Sound Log Scaling and Grading Bureau (creator)
    • Simpson Logging Company (creator)
    • Washington Forest Fire Association (creator)
    • West Coast Lumbermen's Association (creator)
    • Weyerhaeuser Timber Company (creator)