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 SAW MILL   No.2

When the original owners and builders of the `Big Sky Lumber Company', Cornilious Hince and Nathaniel Green, obtained a huge selection of virgin pine forest in the wilds of Oregon, some say by dubious means, they turned to Pat `Knuckles' Driwrott to process their raw logs. Pat, a mad Irishman and one time bare fisted prize fighter, had recently obtained a saw mill in a poker game from its previous owner with a full hand of aces - debate still rages as to how five aces were in the one pack of cards. To celebrate, Pat got blind drunk, and while in this state built a fire to keep warm. However, building a fire in the sawdust pit next to the saw mill wasn't the brightest idea that Pat had ever had. The fire immediately burnt the saw mill to the ground. With the backing (for a generous fee) of the `BIG SKY LUMBER COMPANY' , Pat and his sons were able to rebuild the mill. This is the story of how this new mill was built. 

When tenders were called to build the new saw mill, the disreputable firm of architects and builders, Green, Green and Associates was given the job. It was rumored that their tender was submitted three days after all the others were lodged, but this has never been substantiated. Maybe the fact that the founder and head of this company was the brother of one of the owners of the Big Sky Lumber Co. had something to do with it. A closed hearing by the right honorable Judge Hince, brother of the other owner of the Big Sky Lumber Company, cleared all those involved in the sordid affair. He then retired to a reception organized and paid for with funds appropriated from the local town council. 

After sobering up from this four day reception and general booze up, the architects got down to designing the saw mill. After a quick survey of the site by stepping out the dimensions, it was found that the available space was 800 mm by 400 mm on a  site that sloped down to the log pond and local sewerage dump. They then drew up plans in 1/4” scale, taking into account that the structure was going to be viewed from all four sides by those visiting the Big Sky Lumber Company and its railroad. A reduced copy of these plans have been pasted down through the generations and are published here with the generous permission (and for a generous fee) by the grandson of Nathaniel Green. 

The construction of the mill can be seen in the following reports by the builder, Green, Green and Associates written to the owners, Patrick Driwrott and Sons. These letters are from the archives of the company and are kindly reproduced here.



Architects and Builders - Established 1881

Located at 15 Main Street, Shelter Bay, Oregon. - Offices in New York, London, Paris and Sunbury


Mr. P. Driwrott

Driwrott & Sons Saw Millers

13a Back Street, Shelter Bay.


31 June 1887


Dear Sir,

This is a progress report to keep you appraised of the situation in regard to the construction of your saw mill construction began on the 1st of the previous month with the insertion of 1/4” diameter piles driven into a soft white foam found to be about 50 mm thick. These piles are spaced 60 mm apart on the long axis for a distance of 800 mm and spaced 50 mm on the lateral axis for a distance of 250mm. Once this was completed, the main cross bearers were installed. Before the main decking was laid down, the under floor saw dust conveyor belt was installed. This belt was built to the foundations of the saw dust burner. We expect the burner to be finished by the end of next month. Details will be provided in subsequent correspondence.


Yours sincerely

Wesley Green

Chief Engineer and Surveyor


By the end of July, construction of the saw mill had progressed to a point were the builders felt obliged to submit another progress report. This has been reproduced here, and this report gives a good indication on the main construction of the mill.


Architects and Builders - Established 1881

Located at 15 Main Street, Shelter Bay, Oregon. - Offices in New York, London, Paris and Sunbury


Mr. P. Driwrott                                                                   5 August, 1887

Driwrott & Sons Saw Millers

13a Back Street, Shelter Bay, Oregon.


Dear Sir,

Thank you for the progress payment that finally arrived at our offices today. We are now happy to submit this progress report on the construction of your saw mill.

Firstly, the saw dust burner has been completed, and was constructed with 5 thou. styrene sheet cut to size and pasted to a cardboard former. This was painted with Floquil Roof Brown paint, with rust and weathering chalks then applied. The spark arrester proved to be a problem with obtaining, but a trip to the local supermarket found a plastic tea strainer that was ideal. This was painted with weathered black and dusted with black chalk.


As stated in our previous correspondence, a decking of 1mm balsa wood was glued over the entire floor . At the same time, the two railroad spurs in code 70 rail were spiked down in the required locations, as was the 18” push car line inside the saw mill.

As we write. The internal rip saw, splitting saw and docking saw, along with all the benches were scratch built and are ready for installation. The special saw blades were acquired from gears out of disposable cameras and were sanded to about half their thickness. The brick foundation for the steam boiler has also been completed, and we expect the boiler, which was made from a cardboard and brass tube, as was the chimney, to be installed next week. At this stage, the two steam cylinders and belt wheels, which are white metal details, were installed. Because of size restrictions, all this internal detail in the mill is to be installed before the main super structure is built. The main trusses for this have been fabricated from basswood and 1/4” dowel are on site and ready to stand up. We expect this to be completed by the end of next week.


Yours sincerely

Wesley Green

Chief Engineer & Surveyor


No further historical correspondence in regard to the Driwrott saw mill has been unearthed at this time, probably due to the suspicious fire that occurred at Green, Green & Associates in September of 1889. However, we have been able to track down the last surviving person who worked on the construction of this mill. His name is Jerimia McAdam  who was a 13 years old at the time, and was a nail and bolt holder apprentice at the time. Mr. McAdam, who is 97 years of age, now resides in the Shelter Bay old peoples home which is behind the brand new McDonalds Hamburger store. We recorded this interview  with him just before his untimely death while being interviewed - maybe he died from boredom!

Interviewer: Mr. McAdam, can you explain the construction type used for the mills superstructure

Mr. McAdam: Z Z Z Z

Interviewer: Mr. McAdam (shake, shake), McAdam, McAdam !!!!

Mr. McAdam: Ah! What? Sorry must have dozed off sonny. Oh, you wanted to know about the superstructure of the mill. Well listen up boy  and I will tell you. Once all the benches, machinery and the steam boiler and other bits had been fitted in place we began to  stand the 1/4” vertical poles with the roof trusses already in place. These were placed directly over the foundations.

Interviewer: Was this difficult Mr. McAdam?

Mr. McAdam: No you dummy, we were working on a  1/4 inch scale model

Interviewer: Sorry, please continue.

Mr. McAdam: OK. Once the trusses were in place we added the roof beams. The roofer s then started to glue on the etched aluminum corrugated iron sheets with ACC. We then added the roof walk, the water tank filled with clear casting resin and the roof plumbing. We thennnn . . . . . . . . .

NOTE: At this point, Mr.McAdam quietly passed away

Interviewer: Oh well. I  guess that’s the end of the interview


Once the superstructure and roof were completed, the first logs rolled in from the Big Sky Lumber Company  amongst great celebration and  fanfare.  All the invited guests lined up opposite the wood burner to watch Patrick Driwrott cut the ribbon and turn the power on to start the sawmill. Once these formalities were hastily completed,  all the guests plus all the town hangers-on departed for the town saloon to celebrate in the typical  manner - they all got blind drunk. 

I hope you have enjoyed this slightly tongue in cheek description of how I built the Driwrott saw mill. It was a popular addition to the BIG SKY LUMBER COMPANY layout.