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Klamath Reservation Produces Lumber into the 1920’s

The government promised in the Treaty of 1864 that established the Klamath Indian Reservation to supply a lumber mill and maintain its operation for 20 years.

A first steam-driven mill that arrived from Jacksonville in 1863 to help built Fort Klamath may have been the first to meet the treaty obligation.  In 1870, the Klamath Agency built a water-driven, circular mill designed specifically for the reservation.

A year later, sub-Agent J. N. High reported, “The completion of the sawmill has worked a great reformation and inspired the Indians to extraordinary exertion …They have taken the ax and cross-cut saw and hauled to the mill a million board feet of lumber and today are lumber merchants and…are evincing shrewdness and integrity.”

High’s report listed a sawyer and four mill laborers acquired in September of 1871, two of them Indians.

The government kept at least one reservation mill operating into the 1920’s when the timber was depleted and the old mills had burned or broken down.


Sources: Lamm, W. E. "Lumbering in Klamath." Oregon State Library, 1957. Web. 14 May 2016. https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/10176/Lum_Kal.pdf?sequence=1;  High, J. N. "Monthly Report of Klamath Agency." Letter to A.B. Meachum. 30 Sept. 1871. MS. National Archives.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.