Nearly 120 years ago, three young brothers had a dream of turning their family’s Brady-area homestead farm six miles upstream from the mouth of the Satsop River, into a logging operation. They were Hubert, Peter and Albert Schafer, sons of 1870 pioneers John D. Schafer and his wife, Anna.
Starting in 1893 with just a span of oxen and a five additional men with strong backs, axes and peaveys, the brothers began an enterprise that would eventually see their logging company become one of the biggest and most successful in the Pacific Northwest.
Over the next more than 60 years, the Schafer brothers, gradually joined by two generations of their offspring, added their first steam-powered donkey engine, went on to build their own railroad line, purchased and ran multiple lumber and shingle mills in Grays Harbor and bought and operated their own ships to transport their product to markets all over the world.
By the 1920s, the company employed more than 3,000 and was securely established as a major player in the timber industry.
The brothers attributed their unprecedented success through the Great Depression, a Wobblies invasion and two world wars to a mother who insisted that they borrow nothing and never buy on credit, but instead, use only profits from timber sales to finance the company’s next big move or property acquisition.
The Schafer Brothers Logging Company’s era ended, very profitably, when the always-family-held business was sold to Simpson Timber Company in 1955.
Films and discussion
Peter Reid, a member of the Schafer family, will show recently restored films the company had made in the 1920s and discuss the company’s history Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the Westport Timberland Library.
This free presentation is sponsored by the Friends of the Westport Timberland Library.
Reid was born and grew up in Aberdeen. A retired attorney, he was Executive Director of a public interest law firm in the San Francisco Bay area for 30 years prior to joining the faculty of Stanford Law School.
Retiring in 2006, he and his wife moved to Olympia, where he currently serves on the Washington State Parks Foundation Board and is President of the Olympia World Affairs Council.
Schafer history book
For those interested in learning even more about the logging company’s beginnings and development, an informative book is available from the Timberland Library System called “A Narrative of Schafer Bros. Logging Company’s Half Century in the Timber.”
Published in 1945, it was written by Stewart Hall Holbrook, an American lumberjack, writer, and popular historian, whose writings focused on what he called the “Far Corner” — Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. His books relating to our neck of the woods included the railroads, the timber industry, the Wobblies and eccentrics of the Pacific Northwest.
He was also a reporter with The Oregonian for more than 30 years.
Contracted by the Schafers to set their company history into print to commemorate its first half-century in the woods, his 110-page work on the their accomplishments contains not only historical information, but also entertaining anecdotes and nearly four-dozen photos of work in the woods and members of the Schafer family.