Benton County sawmill out of steam but still going strong

By Tom Henderson
The Oregonian
September 22, 2022
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

OREGON — A decade ago, the Hull-Oakes Lumber Co. still literally operated under its own steam. The sawmill, some 10 miles west of Monroe in Benton County, was one of the last to operate under steam power and remain commercially viable. Eventually, though, the 21st century proved inescapable. The company switched completely to electricity-based production in 2013, phasing in the electrical equipment over the course of a year or two. The old steam technology remained as a backup, but it’s been years since workers fired up the boiler for production, said Nathan Nystrom, the family-operated mill’s log buyer and forester. …The mill nonetheless remains a historical curiosity. A landmark recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, the sawmill was notable not only for its old-school methods, but also its role in bolstering the early Benton County economy. …Today they have ~50 employees and produce between 15 to 20 million board feet per year. 

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