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F. H. Stoltze of St. Paul, Minnesota came to the Flathead Valley in the late 1890’s through association with James Hill and the Great Northern Railroad. Mr. Stoltze had been building general stores along the railroad through North Dakota and Montana to supply the needs of the settlers and railroad.
On June 26, 1909 F.H. Stoltze, Edward Konantz and William Kiley formed Enterprise Lumber Company and rebuilt the mill on Smith Lake. This was a large mill that provided ties, timbers, and dimension lumber for the railroad. During this time F.H. Stoltze Land Company owned or had timber leases in Dower Draw, Franklin Draw, Jackson Draw, and most of the Truman Creek area, parts of which are now referred to as Emmons Creek and Coon Hallow. Ed Conrad had a logging contract to log much of this area and transport the logs to the Enterprise Mill. In the summer heavy wagons were used to transport the logs and in the winter, wood sleighs.
In the 1910–1930 time period, F.H. Stoltze also formed Empire Lumber Company, which was located near the current day road junction of Truman Creek and Mount Creek. The old millpond and cookhouse are still present on the site. Logs were supplied to this mill via a log flume that came down Truman Creek and Emmons Creek and by a narrow gauge railroad.
State Lumber Company was formed in 1891 with operations beginning on the Whitefish River near Hodgeson Road in 1906. Early records show State Lumber owning timberlands in the Whitefish area in 1904. Logs for the Whitefish River mill were cut from the surrounding area, along the river and Whitefish Lake. This river provided the transportation for the logs to the mill. The last logs were sawn at this mill in May 1918. State Lumber Company was reorganized on July 8, 1918 for the purpose of extending the Corporation for an additional 20 years.
During the winters of 1918 and 1919 the many buildings that had been established at the State Lumber Company mill site on the Whitefish River were moved by horses to the Half Moon site. A new bunkhouse, cookhouse, store, and several homes were also built. At one time there were 32 Company-owned homes at Half Moon. Sometime in the early 1930’s electricity was supplied to the homes via a steam-powered generator with lights out at 10:00 p.m. Mountain States Power was brought to Half Moon in 1947. The company store provided the needs of the workers as well as the needs of the surrounding community. The store, cookhouse, and bunkhouse were operated until the early 1940’s. By this time both the roads and automobiles had improved to the point where the employees did not need to live at the mill site but rather lived with their families. During the hard times of the 1930’s the lenient credit policy of the company store was a great help to the survival of many families.
Construction of the Half Moon Mill took five years with the first logs being sawn in May 1923. A contract for construction was awarded in January 1920 to F. W. Horstkotte, a lumber mill builder for $225,000. The mill was to be a single band and gang saw mill with the capacity to saw 100,000 board feet in an eight-hour shift. Equipment for this mill came from Enterprise Lumber, State Lumber, and a mill in Frazee, Minnesota. About 100 men were employed at this mill.
F.H. Stoltze Land Company was formed on August 31, 1912 with the articles of incorporation amended on July 29, 1933 to change the name to F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber Company and the place of business as Half Moon.
In the fall of 1923 State Lumber acquired a 32-ton Shay manufactured by Lima Locomotive Works from the Brooks – Scanlon Lumber Company in Eureka, Montana. This Shay was purchased new on September 19, 1914 by the Great Northern Railroad for the Somers Lumber Company. Estimated cost was $100,000. This Shay was a standard gauge engine and ran on 60-pound per foot track. The Eureka Lumber Company purchased the Shay in 1916 from the Somers Lumber Company along with eight log cars and enough steel to construct seven miles of railroad.
With the purchase of the Shay, grade and tracks were immediately laid to gain access to the 10,000 acres of timberland owned in the Haskill and Trumbull Creek drainages. There were five camps established in this ownership. With the establishment of the railroad, logging could continue during the summer months. In the early years steam donkeys were used to pull the logs to the landing, which were located along the tracks. Then a Lidgerwood loader was used to load the logs on the railcars. This loader would be carried to the loading spot on an empty railcar and then blocked up so the empty cars could pass beneath the loader. The logs were loaded onto the cars and then the loaded cars moved ahead.
Production at the planing mill did not begin until late summer 1924 with the first railcar of lumber being shipped on Great Northern car #205174.
The boiler plant, the king pin of the entire operation, was acquired from Enterprise Lumber at Kila and the Brooks – Scanlon Company at Eureka. A total of five boilers were installed. The sawmill and planing mills each had their own engine rooms. Sawdust, slabs, and shavings were used to fuel the boilers. Because more residues were created than used, a waste burner was purchased on November 22, 1926 from a Calgary, Alberta manufacturer. This could have been the first waste burner in Montana. It was a large circle 75 feet in circumference, 60 feet high with screen around the top and the screen tipped inward about three feet around the top. This burner was replaced in March 1954 with a Teepee burner.
F. H. Stoltze’s health began to fail in the mid 1920’s and his son, John R. Stoltze, returned from Shreveport, Louisiana where he had been in the oil business to take over the lumber business. John R. Stoltze was a Princeton University (1917) graduate and served in World War I as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and saw combat in France. F. H. Stoltze passed away on May 21, 1928 at age 62. He was born on May 15, 1859 in Wisconsin. John R. Stoltze was married to Grace B. Bulkley and they had one son and four daughters. The three remaining daughters and grandchildren are the current owners of the Company.
During the 1930’s the mill and logging operation were not run on a continual basis because of the economic conditions at the time. After a strike by the workers in 1940 and the beginning of World War II, operations resumed at full capacity.
On August 30, 1945 the planing mill and loading facilities were destroyed by fire. Because of the war effort replacement equipment was difficult to get, however, a new building and equipment was back in production by early 1947.
A fire on March 22, 1956 destroyed the entire sawmill. Part of the log slip and green chain were all that was saved. The heat was so great that the stack for the boilers collapsed. A crew from Spokane came and jacked the stack back straight and replaced a section of the stack. Construction on a new mill began fairly quickly with operations starting in mid 1957. In the ensuing fifty years, the mill has changed and been upgraded continually and exists today as seen in the aerial photo on the home page.
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