This very lively place is situated on Section 22, Township 19 north, Range 28 west, and is worthy of especial mention on account of its being the headquarters of the native lumber industry of Benton and other counties. Peter Vanwinkle erected the first saw-mill known as “Van Winkle’s Mill” at this place in 1858, and ran it until some time during the war, when it was burned, it is said, by Confederate bushwhackers to prevent its being used by the Federal armies. It was rebuilt in 1866 and run until 1882, when it passed into the hands of J. A. C. Blackburn, son-in-law of its original proprietor. Mr. Blackburn has made some improvements, and continues the business on an extensive scale. The mills are inclosed in a building 70×90 feet in size, two stories high, and all covered with an iron roof. The power consists of a 150-horse power engine, with a 22×30 inch cylinder, and a balance wheel twenty feet in diameter and weighing 20,000 pounds. The steam capacity, equal to 200-horse power, consists of three boilers twenty-four feet in length and forty-two inches in diameter, with four twelve inch flues in each. The smoke stack is five feet in diameter and sixty feet high. The machinery consists of one circular saw, two planers, three cut-off saws, two rip saws, one resawing machine for making bevel siding, one shingle machine, one scroll saw, two moulding machines, one tenanting machine, one mortising machine, one automatic emory wheel for grinding planer bits, one lathe for turning iron and one for turning wood.

Mr. Blackburn has also another mill at Rock House, in Madison County; capacity, 20,000 feet per day, with all machinery for preparing the lumber ready for the builder’s use. He also has in his employ two portable mills, one in Madison County and one in Benton County, four miles east of the home mill, cutting lumber for him by the thousand feet. The capital invested in this enterprise, including mills, machinery, teams, wagons, lands, etc., is about $60,000. The immense amount of lumber manufactured by Mr. Blackburn is all sold in home markets–in Benton, Madison and Washington Counties. He employs fifty hands, about twenty in Madison and thirty in Benton County, and he owns 17,000 acres of land, principally in these counties, 16,500 of it being timbered and the balance being farm land.

Back to: Benton County, Arkansas History

Source: History of Benton, Washington, Carroll, Madison, Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian Counties, Arkansas. Chicago, IL, USA: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.