Homochitto Lumber Co.

Standard Gauge 35-lb rail

Mill location: Bude, MS (Franklin Co.)

Years of Operation: 1913-1936

Mill Capacity: 165,000 ft/day in 1917

Miles Operated

Locomotives Owned: 11

See also:

J. J. Newman Lumber Co.

Mississippi Central RR

Equipment: 

2 Clyde skidders bought new 11-18-1919 and 10-12-1920

  

Click Maps for Larger Versions

History by Tony Howe:

     The Homochitto Lumber Co. was formed on February 6, 1912, when several wealthy lumbermen incorporated the company at Brookhaven with $500,000 in authorized capital stock. Among the incorporators were C. S. Woolworth, John T. Porter, Cyrus D. Jones, Fenwick L. Peck and Edson S. Peck, all of Scranton, Pennsylvania, F. M. Kirby, of Wilkesbarre, Pa., and Samuel E. Moreton, of Brookhaven, MS. Officers of the company were: F. L. Peck, president; C. D. Jones, vice president; G. F. Royce, secretary, and John T. Porter, treasurer.  These men were all officers and directors of the J. J. Newman Lumber Company and the Mississippi Central Railroad. The new company took its name from nearby Homochitto River.

     Fenwick L. Peck had been engaged in the lumber business in Pennsylvania since 1874, and in 1887 formed the Lackawanna Lumber Co. at Mina, Pennsylvania. In 1896, J. J. Newman traveled to Pennsylvania and convinced Peck, along with other Scranton area businessmen, to invest in the J. J. Newman Lumber Co. at Hattiesburg, Miss. Peck also became owner of the Alamogordo Lumber Co. in New Mexico.

     The J. J. Newman Lumber Company built a standard gauge logging railroad westward from Hattiesburg. On November 15, 1897, this railroad was incorporated as the Pearl and Leaf Rivers Railroad. Another large sawmill was constructed in the newly formed town of Sumrall in 1902, and a second mill was added here in 1905. The railroad was renamed the Mississippi Central Railroad on February 13, 1904, and was completed to Brookhaven in April 1906. That same year a charter was issued to the Natchez & Eastern Railway, which constructed a railroad from Natchez to Brookhaven. In 1909, Mississippi Central Railroad formally absorbed the Natchez & Eastern Railway, thereby providing through railway service between Hattiesburg and Natchez.

Sam E. Moreton, of Brookhaven, Mississippi, became associated with the Homochitto Lumber Company. Mr. Moreton had spent practically his entire life in the manufacture of southern pine lumber, having been associated with his father, A. E. Moreton, in the Moreton & Helms Co. at Cold Springs, one of the pioneer lumber operations in Mississippi, having been formed in 1880. He was later secretary and treasurer of the Pearl River Lumber Company at Brookhaven. In 1906 Mr. Moreton established the Central Lumber Company that operated mills at Lucien, Bogue Chitto, Celco, and Quentin Mississippi. S. E. Moreton superintended the construction of the Homochitto Lumber Co. mill and became General Manager of that company and was later named General Manager of the entire operations of both the Newman and Homochitto companies.

     The Homochitto Lumber Co. began acquiring large tracts of timber in Franklin, Amite, and Adams Counties soon after its formation. On February 27, 1912, the company purchased approximately 14,710 acres of timberland from the J. J. White Lumber Co., who had a large mill at McComb. A month later, on March 12, 1912, Cyrus Jones transferred timber purchased by him to the Homochitto company, which included 10,107.19 acres acquired from the Clark Timber Co. and various tracts bought from other sources. On October 18, 1912, the Homochitto Lumber Co. purchased 15,952 acres from H. N. Hovey and T. C. Starrett, both from Detroit, Michigan, for $174,318.00. By the time construction started on the mill in 1912, the Homochitto company reportedly owned a total of 90,000 acres.

     In June 1912 a mill site was selected in Franklin County on the Mississippi Central Railroad, 28 miles west of Brookhaven, and about three miles southeast of the county seat of Meadville. A mill town was immediately surveyed and named Bude. There are two versions of how the town got its name. One story is that the town was named for the historic coastal town of Bude, England, near the Pecks’ ancestral home. The other version is that the town was named for Mrs. F. L. Peck’s dog. Much of the land for the new mill and townsite was purchased from J. M. Ford and Mrs. W. L. Wentworth. In the course of nine months an entire town and mill plant were built, including a depot, 40-room hotel, twelve stores, public school, and a post office. Within a year, the town had more than 200 new houses, and with a population of more than 1200, Bude had outgrown the neighboring town of Meadville.

     The foundation for the mill building was laid on June 12, 1912 and the mill was completed and in operation on February 1, 1913.  The sawmill building was of concrete and steel, containing two band mills and a 48-inch gang.  All mill machinery, except the gang, was built by the Filer & Stowell Company. Cutting capacity of this mill was from 150,000 to 200,000 feet per day.  In addition to the sawmill, the facilities included a large planing mill, six concrete dry kilns, a rough shed and a dressed lumber shed. When the mill opened, it employed over 800 people.

     The town continued to grow after the opening of the mill. New business enterprises that located in the town included two drug stores, a theatre, automobile dealerships, restaurants, furniture store, cotton gins and bowling alley. Professional men located offices in the town, including physicians, dentists and attorneys. People from throughout the county gathered on weekends to trade with the merchants, to enjoy the entertainment and festive occasions that were available in Bude.

     The first logging railroad built by the Homochitto Lumber Co. ran north from Eddiceton. A second line was soon built southward from the mill, and after crossing the Homochitto River, followed southwestward along the east side of the river.  A logging camp known as the Caston Creek Camp was established on this line about two miles north of the Amite County line. After removal of the timber east of the river, the camp was moved across the river and became known as the Bunkley Camp. A new logging railroad was built across the river northwest from the Caston Creek Camp. The main line then turned southwest to the Bunkley Camp, while logging spurs were built northward up most of the major creeks to log timber in the hilly areas between the camp and the Mississippi Central. One spur was built up Richardson Creek that crossed a steep ridge and then turned southwest along Dry Creek. Logging spurs in this area reached within a mile of White Apple, Franklin, and within two miles of Knoxville. Logging spurs were also built off of the Mississippi Central near the small town of Kirby. In 1929 the company moved its logging road and log camp to Adams County.  The logging railroad was built southward from a connection with the Mississippi Central at Cranfield.  It ran along the east side of Sandy Creek all the way down to the Homochitto River. Many spurs were built both east and west off of this main line. A logging camp known as the Cranfield Camp was located near the point that Swafford Branch flowed into Sandy Creek. The area that the company logged between Sandy Creek and the Adams-Franklin County line was particularly rugged. Logging spurs were built up almost every creek valley.

     For use on the logging railroads, the Homochitto Lumber Co. owned a total of six 3-truck Shay locomotives over the years. Two of them were transferred from the Lackawanna Lumber Co. at Cross Fork, PA, in 1913, while two of them were bought new in 1913. Another 70-ton Shay was bought new in 1920, and another was bought secondhand from a lumber company in Wisconsin in 1927. In addition to the Shays, the company owned a small  0-4-2T that was transferred from Hattiesburg in 1912, and a Baldwin 2-8-0 that was also transferred from the J. J. Newman Lumber Co. at Sumrall. The company also bought two Clyde skidders new in 1919 and 1920. Many of the log cars used by the Homochitto Lumber Co. were built in the J. J. Newman shops in Hattiesburg and Sumrall.

     The sawmill at Bude finally cut out in October 1936 and closed.  On June 3, 1943 the mill plant and timber lands were sold to the Central Lumber Company, of Quentin, Franklin County.  Finally, on December 14, 1943 the corporation was officially dissolved.           

 Much of the above information was supplied by Gil Hoffman and various trade journals.

Panoramic view of the Homochitto Lumber Co. mill at Bude. A long train of logs is unloading at the mill pond.

Right section of the above photo shows the Homochitto Lumber Co. office on the left, the T. J. Spragins & Son hardwood mill in the distance, and a Mississippi Central passenger train at the depot.

Hotel in Bude

3-truck Shay No. 23 after the mill cut out.

Shay No. 25 at Bude

Shay 26 at Bude after the mill shut down.

A Clyde skidder being used to clean up a wreck with one of the Shays. 

Homochitto Shay and crew in the woods of Franklin County.

Aerial view from the 1920's showing the mill, depot, and town of Bude.

One of Homochitto Lumber Co.'s American log loaders.

Homochitto section crew and motor car.

ROSTER by Gil Hoffman:

 

 

Road No.

 

Type

 

Builder

 

C.N.

 

Date

 

Cyls.

 

Dri. Dia.

 

Engine

Wt.

 

Previous Ownership

 

Disposition

 

1

 

0-4-2T

 

Brooks

 

696

 

4/1882

 

16x22

 

48

 

 58500

 

Chicago & Atlantic #1

Chicago & Erie #401, in 8/1890.

Erie R.R. #25, in 1895.

Lackawanna Lumber Co., Mina, PA,

in 6/1897.

J. J. Newman Lumber Co. 2nd #1, Hattiesburg, MS, in 4/1898.

Homochitto Lumber Co. #1, in 9/1912.

 

 

 

 

 

No Data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

70-3

Shay

 

Lima

 

2626

 

1/1913

 

3-12x15

 

36

 

140000

 

New.

 

Re. #23.

 

4

 

70-3

Shay

 

Lima

 

2627

 

1/1913

 

3-12x15

 

36

 

140000

 

New.

 

Re. #24.

 

5

 

50-3

Shay

 

Lima

 

521

 

9/1896

 

3-12x12

 

32

 

112000

 

Lackawanna Lumber Co. #5, Mina, PA

Pennsylvania Stave Co., Cross Fork, PA

Lackawanna Lumber Co. #5, Cross Fork, PA

Homochitto Lumber Co. #5, in 1/1913.

 

Re. #21.

 

6

 

75-3 Shay

 

Lima

 

485

 

6/1895

 

3-14˝x12

 

32

 

144000

 

Lackawanna Lumber Co. #4, Mina, PA

Transferred as #4 to Cross Fork, PA

Homochitto Lumber Co. #6, in 1/1913.

 

Re. #22.

 

18

 

2-8-0

 

Baldwin

 

21962

 

4/1903

 

20x24

 

50

 

128000

 

Pearl & Leaf Rivers #9, Hattiesburg, MS

Mississippi Central R.R. 1st #107, Hattiesburg, MS, in 1904.

J. J. Newman Lumber Co. #18, Hattiesburg, MS,

on 3/4/1916.

Homochitto Lumber Co. #18, after 8/1930.

Baldwin class 10-34 E 1665

 

 

 

21

 

50-3

Shay

 

Lima

 

521

 

9/1896

 

3-12x12

 

32

 

112000

 

Re. from #5.

 

Scrapped 1928.

 

22

 

75-3 Shay

 

Lima

 

485

 

6/1895

 

3-14˝x12

 

32

 

144000

 

Re. from #6.

 

Scrapped 5/1942.

 

23

 

70-3

Shay

 

Lima

 

2626

 

1/1913

 

3-12x15

 

36

 

140000

 

Re. from #3.

 

Scrapped 5/1942.

 

24

 

70-3

Shay

 

Lima

 

2627

 

1/1913

 

3-12x15

 

36

 

140000

 

Re. from #4.

 

Scrapped 5/1942.

 

25

 

70-3

Shay

 

Lima

 

3115

 

6/1920

 

3-12x15

 

36

 

140000

 

New. Cost $21,112.

 

Central Lumber Co. #25, Bude, MS,

on 6/30/1943.

Scrapped 3/1955.

 

26

 

70-3

Shay

 

Lima

 

2546

 

6/1912

 

3-12x15

 

36

 

140000

 

Westboro Lumber Co. #3, Westboro, WI

Medford Lumber Co. #7, Medford, WI

Homochitto Lumber Co. #26, on 6/30/1927.

 

Central Lumber Co. #26, Bude, MS,

on 6/30/1943.

Scrapped 3/1955.

 

Note:    Engines were renumbered sometime before 1920 to fit in with the numbering scheme of the J. J. Newman mills at Hattiesburg and Sumrall.

 

 

 

 

 

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For more information contact Tony Howe at howe6818@bellsouth.net or David S. Price at dsprice46@bellsouth.net