Long-Bell Lumber Company

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In 1887, Robert A. Long and Victor Bell formed the Long-Bell Lumber Company in Columbus, Kansas. The Long-Bell Lumber Company branched out using balanced vertical integration to control all aspects of lumber from the sawmills to the retail lumber yard. As the company expanded it moved further south and eventually had holdings in Arkansas, Oklahoma Indian Territory, and Louisiana, before heading west to Washington.

The company grew into one of the largest conglomerates of wood products of the era, with holdings in many states and under many subsidiary names, and sold out to International Paper in 1956.

History[edit]

Three young men went into the business of selling hay in Columbus, Kansas. A major expense was the lumber to build a wagon to deliver the hay and sheds to store it. They found out that hay was a poor business but that lumber was in high demand. They tore down the sheds and sold the lumber. Robert Alexandria Long, Victor Bell, whose father was president of Kansas City Savings Bank, and Robert White, cousin of Long, whose father was the cashier, started R. A. Long & Company. Within a short time, a competitor sold out to them and they opened more stores. In 1887 Robert White died and the remaining partners bought his share, incorporated the Long-Bell Lumber Company, and moved the headquarters to Kansas City.

Subsidiaries[edit]

There were company names such as, Long-Bell Farm Land Corporation, Long-Bell Demonstration Farm Company, and Longview Development Company for property in Longview, Washington. Texas Naval Stores Company (For turpentine distillery), and Hudson River Lumber Company in DeRidder, Louisiana. Other companies were Portland and Northern Railroad (LP&N), in Longview, Washington, and R. A. Long Properties, Long’s personal holding company. The King-Ryder Lumber Company in BonAmi, Louisiana, was the first Long-Bell venture in Louisiana, also owned mills at Thomasville, Indian Territory Oklahoma, and at Winthrop, Arkansas.

The company operated The Long Bell Cabinet Division in Longview, WA in the former drying sheds of the lumber mill they operated there for decades. The division manufactured kitchen and bath cabinets marketed in Sears and Mongomery Ward catalog and retail stores as well as through the company's lumber distribution yards. The division occupied approximately 23 acres under roof and the supervisors used bicycles to go between departments. The division was sold in approximately 1981 and eventually the plant was closed. Old-growth timbers from the structural framework of the plant have been recycled into many upscale homes, and a book of photographs has been published by an architect/builder who took a fondness to preserving a bit of history.[1]

Sawmills in Louisiana[edit]

Back of a piece of hardwood flooring from a Long-Bell sawmill in Louisiana

Some of the sawmills in Louisiana and their year of startup were: Bon Ami, (King-Ryder Lumber Company) in 1902, DeRidder (Hudson River Lumber Company) in 1903, Merryville in 1904, Carson in 1904/05, Longville (reportedly the largest in Louisiana) in 1906/07, Ragley in 1907, Ludington in 1911, plus smaller mills.

The Calcasieu Lumber Company began operating in 1884[2] and became the Bradley-Ramsey Lumber Company in 1886. On March 16, 1906, Long-Bell Lumber Company purchased the Bradley-Ramsey Lumber Company, that included two sawmills, 105,000 acres of timberlands, the Lake Charles and Leesville Railroad, and the Lake Charles Chemical Company. This was the largest transaction of sawmill property in Southwest Louisiana prior to 1906, and increased the Long-Bell's daily production of lumber, at all five plants, to about 800,000 feet daily.[3]

Kansas City, Missouri[edit]

In 1907 Long-Bell built the first "skyscraper" in Kansas City, named the R.A. Long Building, for the company corporate headquarters. At 16 stories tall, costing a reported 14 million dollars.[4][5] The building was bought in 1940 by City National Bank & Trust Company.

The Longs[edit]

The Long's built a mansion called Corintian Hall that began as a plan for an expansion for their collection of horses and carriages. From 1913 to 1914, Longview Farm was built.[6][7] It took 18 months to complete, using Belgian craftsmen and Sicilian stonemasons, among 2,000 other workers employed, to build the Longview Mansion and 50 other farm structures on 1,780 acres (7.2 km2). Some of this land was eventually donated to the Longview College and some was sold and became Longview Lake.

R. A. Long was active in charities. He built a school and other buildings in Longview, Washington from personal funds, was a founding member and President of the organization to have the Liberty memorial located in Kansas City,[8] and others.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Timberframe: The Art and Craft of the Post-And-Beam Home". Amazon.com. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  2. ^ Calcasieu Lumber Company- From "Archaeology, History, and Predictive Modeling: Research at Fort Polk, 1972-2002" By David G. Anderson, Steven D. Smith: Retrieved 2012-05-10
  3. ^ Bradley- Ramsey Lumber Company- Retrieved 2012-05-10
  4. ^ Historylink.com: Long-Bell- Accessed 2012-05-10
  5. ^ R. A. Long Building- Accessed 2012-05-10
  6. ^ K.C. Museum- Accessed 2012-05-10
  7. ^ Friends of KC museum- Accessed 2012-05-10
  8. ^ Longview Foundation- Accessed 2012-05-10

Related articles to R.A. Long[edit]

External sources[edit]