Prune Hill is about seven miles east of Saginaw and is the site of the first Booth Kelly Sawmill.
I’ll be up-front at the start of this post, I’m not a mill historian or knowledgeable about Booth Kelly. However I do like great pictures that tell a story. Earlier this summer, when searching for historical information about Marten Flume (which I couldn’t find), I found some great photos of Prune Hill and was captivated. I started seeking out more. Here’s what I found.
The beginnings: 1890s Sawmill
In 1898 this is the Booth Kelly sawmill at Prune Hill. It sent lumber by flume to the town of Saginaw. This photo shows a log pond in foreground, an open-sided mill building and workers’ cabins on opposite shore.
People Who Lived and Worked There
My favorite photos are those with people in them, like this one with workers out on the logs.
And this one with the crew in front of a cabin. (This photo of a Booth Kelly logging camp is from the Lane County History Museum, and is guessed to be Prune Hill.)
And the cookhouse.
These millworkers are posing with a log to be cut inside a Booth Kelly sawmill building. Look at those saw blades on the left! (This photo is either taken at Prune Hill or Wendling.)
Logging in the 1890s
This 1897 photo shows a “horse team pulling log for Jones Lumber Company at Prune Hill, while loggers supervise. Jones Lumber Company was bought by Booth Kelly Company shortly afterwards.”
In 1890 a “steam donkey” and crew is “yarding” logs in snow-covered woods near Prune Hill. The photo shows the steam donkey in foreground and logs are lined up in background as they are getting prepped to be hauled out of the woods.
Here’s another photo of a steam donkey possibly taken at Prune Hill. Donkey engines yarded logs out of the forest via cable, which is visible in the foreground.
Here’s a logging crew posing on stacked lumber in front of a flume, presumed to be from Prune Hill to Saginaw. Flumes were used to transport lumber via water and gravity.
I love this photo, it is the one that captured my attention and started my quest for more Prune Hill photos. It shows a worker in 1912 riding a log down the flume from Prune Hill to Saginaw. I wonder if this is one of the guys posing in the photo above.
Here’s another photo of that flume, showing the trough of water which carried the logs out of the forest. The trough is supported by an impressive wooden trestle framework.
If you want to know more about the history of Booth Kelly, this issue of the Lane County Historian might be of interest: https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/10826/Vol_35_No_3_Fal_1990.pdf