36" gauge, 12 and 20-lb rail
Mill Location: Howell's Switch, later Blackburn, MS (Jones County)
Mill Capacity: 0,000 ft/day
Years of Operation: 1892-1895
Miles Operated: 2 to 3 miles
Locomotives Owned: 1
5 log cars
Click Map for Larger Version
by Gil Hoffman:
In the late 1880s J. S. Blackburn was operating a sawmill under the name
"J. S. Blackburn & Company" at Nottingham, Talladega County,
Alabama. This mill had a logging railroad.
By December 1892 Blackburn had moved to Jones County where he was
operating the sawmill of T. S. Howell, on the New Orleans &
Northeastern, about a mile south of Tewanta. Timber holdings consisted of
320 acres of longleaf yellow pine purchased on August 14, 1893 from N.
Ferguson, of Tuscanola for $2,160. This timber was on the east side of the
New Orleans & Northeastern, about two miles north of Moselle. A logging
railroad was constructed in the summer of 1893 using a Shay engine, log cars
and rail purchased from M. J. Bond, of Clarksburg, Miss.
The mill at Howell's Switch was a single circular type with machinery by
Brennan & Company and a boiler and engine by Atlas Mfg. Co. It had a
cutting capacity of 15,000 feet per day of longleaf yellow pine. The
original Howell mill was in operation by early 1890. In addition to the
Howell mill, Blackburn reportedly owned a mill on the Leaf River which cut
for export and controlled several other mills on the New Orleans
Northeastern. At the time of the Howell purchase, Blackburn was living in
The Howell mill and timber were purchased on time payment by Blackburn.
Probably as a result of the Panic of 1893, Blackburn was unable to keep up
his payments which led to a court suit against him by Howell. On April 27,
1894, the Chancery Court at Ellisville ordered the personal property of
Blackburn to be sold to pay the debt to Howell. On May 11, 1894, Howell
recovered the 480 acres of land he had sold Blackburn, allowing Blackburn 12
months to cut the timber on this land. Evidentally Blackburn continued to
operate the Howell mill for another year to pay off his debt to Howell.
In August 1896 Blackburn, in partnership with W. A. Robinson and E. G.
Bostwick, built a mill at Bullis, Harrison County (later called Perry), on
the Gulf & Ship Island Railroad. This mill was operated under the name
"Ship Island Lumber Company." Two years later Blackburn was
operating a sawmill in the town of Wiggins.