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BAILEY LUMBER COMPANY- THEN AND 70 YEARS LATER
lumber industry was one of the first to be established in
our township. Early Settlers took advantage of an abundant
supply of timber to build their homes, barns and fences.
The timber also served as a fuel supply to heat homes. In
the article that follows Albany Township native Lester Bailey
shares his memories of the timber industry and how it relates
to one of the area’s older commercial establishments,
Bailey Lumber Company. (Now Bailey Wood Products, Inc.)
It was springtime
in the year 1928. Hank was plowing with a team of horses
in the field south of the road where the Bailey Lumber Company
is now located. The previous winter Hank and his father,
Bailey, had cut some mature oak trees on the farm woodland,
dragged the logs with horses, and hauled them to the roadside
Having bought the farm three years previously, they
were looking for extra income to help pay the mortgage. Money
was scarce, timber was plentiful, but demand
was very low.
Hank heard a Model T Ford chugging up the road and watched as
it stopped by the pile of logs. Three men climbed out and were
looking at the logs when
them. They introduced themselves as Ed Eckroth, his son Guy, and John Long.
They were mine timber dealers. “Are these logs for sale?”,
one of the men asked. Hank told them to go over to the farmhouse and talk
Howard. They did and struck a deal to buy the logs. This was the first
sale of timber that was made and the start of Bailey Lumber Company.
coal mining just to the north of our valley was booming and brought
on a huge demand for timber. Eckroth offered Howard a deal to log and
from various tracts of woodland that he bought in the valley. Timber
was plentiful, and with the arrival of the 1928 stock market
collapse and severe
many landowners were anxious to sell. Good timber could be had for $35.00
to $50.00 an acre.
dealers were cutting in our area. Among them were Eckroth,
Neiswender, Schellhammer, Long, Kimmel, and Kemmerer among
others. The coal mines provided jobs for many workers during
the Depression even though wages were low. Farm labor was
usually a dollar a day plus room and board. A good timber
cutter could possibly earn $5.00 a day.
About this time Howard Bailey and Robert Snyder, a neighbor,
bought a small portable sawmill and started sawing lumber for
the mines, railroad
and for farm
buildings. To power their sawmill they rigged up a Chalmers Auto
engine. Logs were dragged by horses and all work was done by
manpower. In the
Snyder left the business and Howard continued by himself. He had
several employees plus his sons Hank, Norman, and myself, even though
still in school at
the time. For many years George Correll and Oswell Reinhart were
The 1930’s were very tough years to be in the lumber
business. Orders were very had to come by. I remember accompanying
my father to Hamburg and Kutztown
calling on foundries, pattern shops and steel mills trying to sell
lumber. If we sold several thousand board feet we felt lucky. Clear
White Pine sold for
4 cents a board foot at the pattern shop. Blocking and crating
material went for 2 cents a board foot. One of the Hamburg customers,
Steel Foundry & Machine
Company is still a customer today!
In the 1930’s we purchased
a small Caterpillar 10 tractor to replace the horses for skidding
logs. Soon after the first truck with dual tires, a 1935
Ford was bought. Also, a four headblock Farquhar sawmill was
purchased. This was moved to several tracts of timber in Berks,
We had a number of tractors. A Cletrac, a T20 International,
and then a very good versatile Model 22 Caterpillar.
from High School in 1940. Shortly thereafter my father
had a severe heart attack. He was ordered not to do any kind
of work. I was
and since both of my brothers had bought farms of their own,
I had to take over.
My first task was to buy some timber because there was none
in inventory. Imagine how I felt negotiating with an elderly
gained his confidence
and bought his timber on my second call. With the help of several
faithful employees, we kept the company going. My father never
again took full
control of the business.
He relied on me for most of the management.
1942 we moved the portable sawmill to a tract of beautiful
White Oak. That tract is the location of the Whitehall Mall,
in Allentown, PA today. The U.S. was getting in the war
in Europe and most every manufacturer was producing for
the war effort. One day just after we started in the White
Oak tract, two men, George Paxton and Paul Frantz, representatives
of the Northeast Building Supply Co., Philadelphia, PA,
informed us that the U.S. Navy was buying all available
timber for use in shipbuilding. At about the same time I
received notification from the draft board that I was 1A
for military duty. I later received a letter stating that
I was required to stay at my present work and cut Navy Ship
For the next several years Bailey Lumber Company
was under contract to cut tracts of timber supplied by Northeast
location was a large
tract of Oak on the Mason Dixon Line, south of Oxford,
PA. We built a portable bunkhouse and moved it and the portable
woods. We worked long hours, mostly from sunrise to sunset.
George Correll the sawyer,
doubled as cook. George was a former Army Cook, and we
ate well. Since there were no forklifts and chainsaws
in those days, we
appetites, worked very hard, but still managed to have
a very good time. Evenings were
at the Octarora Creek fishing. We bought milk from a
local farmer that was some of the best I ever tasted. We were
a crew of six
out a trailer
load of Oak nearly every working day!
After the job near
Oxford we got a job cutting a tract of Oak near Calvert, Delaware.
Northeast Building Supply
we were cutting
was hauled by tractor trailer to the Delaware Bay by
MacFarland Trucking of Phoenixville, PA.
In the Fall
of 1943 I returned home and got married to Sarah Bleiler. Hank
took my place cutting ship timbers
I got the sawmill
in the old neighborhood. We got a lot of timber from
the mine timber cutters who could not use the larger
Moses Kimmel, took me to give an estimate on some
timber they were buying in Schuylkill
County. On the way there he told me that he was going
to show me the most beautiful tract of timber I had
It was 27
acres of mostly White Pine with some Maple, Poplar
and Oak. I could not believe what I saw. It turned
close to 1 Million
Feet on 27
acres. The trees were straight and tall and were
mostly 20” to 36” in diameter.
It was owned by an elderly bachelor and his two spinster
sisters. When I told my father what I had seen, he
said that even though we were told that it was
not for sale, we still could make them an offer.
I made careful estimate of the timber and Dad and I made
About a month later they accepted our offer,
and we set up a sawmill in a small adjoining field. I
Pine 20” in diameter and measured 6” at
100 foot in length.
Office of Price Administration
(OPA) controls were still in effect, and lumber
could only be sold
to approved buyers due
to the war.
the Pine we
loaded directly into railroad cars. A railroad
siding adjoined the field where we
had the sawmill. The lower grade hardwoods were
bought by the coal miners. We bought
other timber close to home and remained in the
for the next four years.
In the late 1940’s
we used a 5 headblock heavy duty Frick sawmill
with a Waukesha power unit which was later
replaced by a Buda diesel engine. Another
big boost to the business was our first power saw,
a two-man 11 HP Diston. After all of the years
of hand sawing we
were amazed how well it sliced through the
logs. Our 22 Caterpillar was traded in on a new
D4 Caterpillar. What a wonderful machine! I still
remember the serial number
Having completed the tract in Schuylkill
County, we moved the mill back to Albany Township, setting
up on a
of the farm.
to be a temporary location, but it has remained
there ever since. We cut numerous tracts close
by the mill.
With the end of World War II the
restrictions on lumber sales were stopped. We began sawing
for barn construction,
home construction, foundries, pattern shops,
and for general farm
use. We supplied lumber for industry such as
Lehigh Structural Steel in
Allentown, the Kutztown
Foundry, and the Allen Sherman Hoff Co. in
Hamburg, PA. Sales of low grade hardwood lumber were limited
trailer loads of 6’ and 8’ boards
were hauled to the Coaldale Mining Company
and the Maple Hill Colliery at Mahanoy City.
improve business we decided to erect a 40’ by
and installed a planer, a tenoner, and a small
molder to do some millwork. Howard,
my father, became interested in retailing building
materials. We started buying West Coast lumber
and Southern Yellow
Pine. We also began selling doors, windows
and a full line of building materials.
this time I began toying with the idea of rigging
up a portable sawmill that would
set up than
a single axle 28’ semi-trailer and fabricated
20’ extensions for each end.
These were held in place by several bolts and
were removed for transport. This gave us 68’ and
enabled us to cut long timbers. We mounted
a new Farquhar 4 headblock mill on the unit
swung in over the carriage truck for sawing.
This design proved to be very successful. We
could move to a new tract and be ready to make
lumber in a few hours.
We cut many small tracts with this unit
over the next 10 years after which we sold
During the 1950’s several big changes
came about. One was the forklift which made
moving logs and lumber
much easier and faster. With the invent of
the forklift many companies started storing
and shipping their products on small pallets.
This gave a tremendous
boost to the sale of low grade hardwoods. We
immediately started selling to the first large
pallet mill in the area, the TAM Pallet Company.
Thirty years later
we are still selling to the same mill which
is now Remmey the Pallet Company.
In order to
keep stock for the retail lumber business, we built a three
story 60’ by 70’ building
to house all of our products. We also built
a new sawmill building that housed the sawmill and began automating
first automatic log turner.
At about this same time I got a contract with Cromar Hardwood
Flooring Company of Williamsport, PA. to supply them with
4/4” Oak. This began the start of many loads of Oak
being hauled with our F6 Ford Tractor and Fruehauf trailer.
On one of our trips to Williamsport, our driver was stopped
by the owner of Reese Lumber Company. Mr. Bob Reese told
the driver to have me give him a call. I did and immediately
got an order for Red Oak. This was the start of a 35 year
business relationship. He became my best customer. I don’t
ever remember offering him any lumber that he would not
We purchased our first
forklift, a Sherman lift mounted on an
8N Ford Tractor. Even
us a big
boost in handling
logs and lumber. This was followed by a
John Deere with a bit more capacity.
a broker friend named Campbell Coe we started manufacturing
Stevedore and Mailer
Companies of Brooklyn,
NY. These were very
pallets and were also very heavy. We
a trailer load a week all being hand
nailed. Later we got primitive
Boise Cascade envelope plant in Allentown,
eventually quit the manufacture of
pallets in the 1980’s.
I had been
taken in as a partner by my father Howard
in June of 1948, and became
when he retired.
established his own company in the 1950’s,
Norman Bailey Lumber Company, in Auburn,
PA. He operated a sawmill and as a building
supply retailer for 25 years until his
health failed him. After the retirement
of my father I decided to discontinue
the retail building materials portion
of the operation and focus solely on
sawmill which I had always loved more.
Shortly after Howard’s
retirement I purchased a new Frick Automatic
Saw Carriage and Mill. We installed a
feedworks and a Mellott Log Turner and
Lumber Transfers to further automate
In 1970 Bailey Logging Company
was founded by my brother Hank and his
Upon Hank’s retirement Dale Bailey,
Hanks son, was taken on as Richard’s
partner. Today they operate as Bailey
Bros. Logging supplying the logs for
Bailey Lumber Company. The demand for
lumber we produced on the mill necessitated
the need to have a separate logging operation
to supply the mills needs. Prior to this
I purchased the timber and
was involved in the logging and the milling.
This allowed me to focus solely on the
sawmilling part of the operation.
early 1970’s we purchased our first
4 –wheel drive forklift
from Elmer Plasterer of Lebanon, PA.
This was later followed by two used Pettibone
Super 8 Carrylifts. In the early 1970’s
we purchased our first automatic sawmill
carriage, a used Helle that we got from
Maljovic Bros. in Kane, PA. Along
with this we also installed a 6” Cornell
Gang Edger. This gave production a nice
boost. In 1981 I purchased
a brand new Pettibone Super 8 Forklift.
It was a far superior machine than any
we owned before. A
second forklift was added to the operation
in 1990 in an articulating W14 Case.
We later traded that in
on a new John Deere 444 in 1993.
the most major improvements to the sawmill
operation in the 70’s
was the installation of a 3 Phase 440
V Electrical Service. This provided a
steady supply of clean power. It also
us to get rid of all the diesel engines
and a lot of maintenance.
1980’s the companies focus was
the wholesale production of green hardwood
lumber that was sold to distribution
yards. We produced on
average 2 trailer loads of grade lumber
a week in addition to 1 to 2 trailer
loads of pallet lumber, some railroad
ties, and custom cut orders for foundries,
industrial blocking and timbers, and
custom cut orders for farm and general
We continued this into the 1990’s.
In order to streamline production we
installed a new Cleereman Sawmill in
This mill has far exceeded any mill
than we have ever owned in its performance
due to reduced repairs and down time.
In 1990 my Grandson, Jeffrey Schucker
joined the company as a partner. Jeffrey
He worked in the operation
every summer break from school. During
his college years he learned more skills
working part time
Schucker also joined the organization
as the tax accountant and payroll clerk
addition to her
full time position
as a Registered
completion of his Bachelors Degree in
Business Administration he has assumed
more of the management of the company.
Jeff doing most of the management, much
needed new ideas are being tried
to be successful.
we decided to add more value our production.
This decision led Jeff to purchase our
dry kiln. In
April of 1992
Kiln. We began kiln drying select boards
of high quality hardwoods that Jeff began
and cabinet shops.
kiln dried lumber that these kilns produced
was well received by our new customers.
The demand for the Red Oak, Poplar, Maple,
Cherry, Walnut, Ash and other hardwoods
was not able
to be supported
by the production
one dry kiln.
I soon saw
the need to add a second unit which we
installed 6 months later. In 1994 a third
and larger kiln was installed allowing
greater flexibility in the variety of
species of lumber
we offered and
also thicker material.
We also started
offering milling for our customers in
the form of planing. Later a
straight-line rip saw
was added for providing customers with
straight edged lumber and ripped to width
We also began
custom products such
as butcher blocks, bar tops, stair treads,
among other custom items.
to the sawmill continued throughout the
with the installation of an overhead
sawdust storage bin. Our mill dust became
a valuable commodity
for bedding. This unit will allow us
to capture all of our production and
keep it clean and dry for sale to our
customers. Improvements to sawmill equipment
were installed to increase yield and
the grade of each
board we process. The Spring of 1997
proved to be very busy, and the three
dry kilns could not keep
pace with demand. The decision was made
to add a fourth dry kiln. This would
allow us the opportunity to dry a
greater volume of the slower drying items
such as Oak and thicker materials. In
1998 we installed a Mellott
hydro-electric Log Debarker. This was
a big boost to the mill production due
to the fact that we
removed the dirt and bark that has a
direct impact on saw sharpness and run
time. It also greatly reduced the amount
of debris generated from the sawing process.
We also generate and additional salable
product in the
bark that we sell to be reground for
landscape mulch. We also started having
all of our off fall and
trimmings ground up and used for landscape
material. Nothing goes to waste!
Bailey Lumber Company incorporated.
The business structure that existed between
and later Jeffrey
Schucker changed. The formation of
the corporation allowed the business to grow.
consideration the decision
to name the
company Bailey Wood
Products, Inc. We felt that the name
best described the direction that the
company would take in the years to
Steady growth and demand for timber
resources made Jeff look at ways
to make the sawmill
changes. The most important was the
installation of a new Band Head Saw.
The company had
inception. With the
need for greater yields and efficiency
the bandsaw produced half as much
every saw cut made. The resulting
lumber is also smoother and more uniform.
A new electrical
improvements and for future expansion.
The edger machine was also retrofitted
computerized setworks and
improved. The Cleereman
saw carriage was rebuilt and upgraded.
Later a DC Electric saw carriage
added to improve production and replace
system maintenance. In 2004 a steel
warehouse building was added
to store package inventory
After making a life
long career of the lumber business
I retired at
of 80. My days
are spent with
of 60 years
together and our years in the lumber
business. She has been a great
partner taking care
of the payroll and accouting and
on several occasions in her younger
also been a delivery person helping
where ever she could. Many memories
Late at night
on December 30, 2005 tragedy struck as we watched the
up from the roof
We were called
by a neighbor
it and quickly called 911. Fire
Companies responded quickly and
the blaze was
contained to only
the mill operation.
destroyed the center
building and the edger and other
transfer equipment. In the months
path to recovery a plan was made
to reconstruct the mill in a
wholesale markets were
and in decline,
particularly for Red Oak, a major
staple for the operation.
contemplating his options Jeff decided to focus on the
The fire did not affect that
portion of the operation and
to function. In
2006 a new bandsaw was purchased
allowing the operation to produce
for the needs
the retail and dry kiln operation.
to reconstruct the mill building
a mill shop
where the kiln
could be further
machined into a variety of
hardwood products. A Weinig molder was
added to the companies
a wide variety
Up grades to the existing planer
were done in the
form of a helical cutterhead
to eliminate tearout on high
A wide belt
sander was added
for the finishing of lumber
and value added products. A tool
was also added to support the
Weinig molder and
make the necessary
produce a wide variety of profiles.
A 1.25 Million BTU Taylor Water
take all of
the mills trimmings
waste and convert
into hot water to heat the
dry kilns and buildings. The dry
shop are used for animal bedding
and also sold for the manufacture
of a web site to
capabilities has been completed.
This will be an informational
as provide inventory
information on current
As with all things
in life, change is one constant
to face and
with. The fire
has brought forth
to meetings those challenges
and keeping the spirit of
that has kept
alive over the decades.
demand for wood products will increase in the years
a growing population.
is that we
that the Lord
for our existence and to
use wisely. With common
have forests to produce
resources for future generations.
Working with wood is
a very satisfying and creative
occupation. Let us all
make sure that the supply
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