Lumber Industry in Buffalo, NY

Lumber barons:

Theodore S. Fassett

Charles Goodyear

Frank H. Goodyear

John Newton Scatcherd

Asa K Silverthorne

Whitehaven Grand Island
As late as 1825 there was no saw or planing mill listed in the local records. There were carpenters and joiners, and two cabinetmaking shops. Perhaps the lumber came from sawmills which were established about 1800 up the Scajaquada and Ellicott Creeks.

It was not until the 1850's that Buffalo developed a large lumber trade. Cargoes from Southern Ontario and Michigan were transferred at Buffalo to the [Erie] canal boats which moved the lumber on to Albany.

About 1857 a number of Buffalo enterprisers tried to float log rafts from Saginaw, Michigan to Buffalo. The undertaking was given up after a number of rafts were lost.

John S. Noyes bought the hulk of a ship that had once been a floating palace, and in 1861 he turned it into a barge to haul lumber. Soon after this venture a great number of barges, carrying whatever could be taken aboard, appeared on Lake Erie.

In 1860 about 111,000,000 feet of lumber came to Buffalo by lake barge, with none shipped by rail. By 1890 rail shipments were 375,- 000,000 feet, and lake imports were 287,000,000 feet. This indicated that the railroads were replacing the barges as the popular carrier of lumber for the Queen City.

The Enterprising Goodyears

The name of Goodyear looms large in the history of lumber on the
Niagara Frontier. The enterprises of Frank H. and Charles W. Goodyear brought them personal profit and benefitted the community in many ways. While other lumber dealers passed by good forests that were far from water transportation, Frank H. Goodyear invested heavily in isolated forest holdings. He built his own sawmills. Then he promptly connected them with shipping centers, by laying out his own railroads to reach the busy mills.

In 1885 he bought 13,000 acres of woodland in Potter County, Pennsylvania. The railroad he built for this venture later became part of the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad which gave Buffalo easy access to coal as well as to timber .

In 1887 Frank entered into partnership with his brother, Charles and by 1902 the Goodyear Lumber Company was incorporated. Typical of the advanced thinking of the Goodyears was the building of a sawmill of steel - the first of its kind. The output of this mill was expected to exceed that of any other sawmill in the world at that time.

The Goodyear brothers' interests included the Buffalo and Susquehanna Coal and Coke Company, the Buffalo and Susquehanna steamship Company, the Great Southern Lumber Company, and the Marine National Bank of Buffalo, of which both brothers were directors.

- Robert Holder, The Beginnings of Buffalo Industry, pp. 3-4  (online August 2013)


Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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