The Heading Mill

The Heading Mill
Rose City, MichiganHeading mill

In 1892, a heading mill was built on the banks of Houghton Creek which skirts the eastern edge of this village, by the French Land and Lumber Company at the cost of $75,000.  The mill made heads for nail kegs and barrels.  A fellow named Burrell of Utica New York was the contractor. When the mill first opened there were only hand saws, and when the mill was closed down they were using two double blocked saws.  The  mill had its own electric plant and was powered by four steam engines.  The material was all kiln dried and planed.  The mill had 12 dry-kilns and each kiln had a capacity of 18 hand trucks.  All the sawdust and shavings were carried by conveyor to the fire pit so the rubbish could be kept away from the mill.   In the winter the steam was used to take the frost and snow off the logs before they were sawed.

Two crews of fifteen men each were run daily.  The average day worked was about ten hours, and the common labor was played fifteen cents an hour with the mechanics getting a little more.. The workers were paid once a month.
The mill was then called the “Basswood Mill” as basswood was the only timber then used for barrel heads.  The company failed in 1897 and the mill was purchased by J. R. Raible who owned similar mills at Pinconning, Alpena and Midland. It was at this time named Rose City Heading Company.

Later the mill was sold to the Greif Brothers Cooperage Company from Cleveland, Ohio.   who operated it until it was dismantled in 1916 when the timber in the area was exhausted.  The company made headings for nail kegs and all kinds of timber was used. Soon after the mill was dismantled the railroad was also was taken out.

The Rose City Heading Mill was the largest of its kind in Michigan, having three turners, each producing 6,000 sets or a total of 18,000 sets of heading per day.  The daily employment averaged 50 to 100 men.

This material was gleaned from a letter written to Howard Thompson of Rose City, dated August 5, 1944 by J.R. Raible, Chairman of the Grief Bros. Cooperage Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio, by members of the Rose City Area Historical Society. .and from a story in the Cumming Clipper by Tom Cavada. Information was also from the History of Rose City in the Northern Light July 1951

Cathy Snider



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