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At this year’s O’Reilly Foo Camp in Sebastopol, CA, a bunch of us took a field trip to Sturgeon’s Mill, a hundred year old steam-powered lumber mill that’s about five minutes from the O’Reilly offices. The mill was closed in 1964, but is now being restored and is open for scheduled demonstrations (see upcoming dates on their website).

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The visit was a real treat. The mill is situated in a small valley of looming redwoods, lush undergrowth, and rocky creek beds. There was a real sense of excitement when the steam whistle blew, the mill chugged to life, and the sawyers went to work. The mill is powered by an Atlas Steam Boiler and Engine for the main saw (the “headrig”) and a Soule twin-cylinder engine to power the 4-gang edger.

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A working 1924 Dorris lumber truck.

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Besides the impressive mechanics of the mill itself, the grounds around it are strewn with the rusty ejecta of all manner of steam-powered cutters, movers, lifters, and the tools that kept them in business. Above is a 1905 Willamette Steam Donkey, a machine replacement for actual donkeys and mules (and lesser tractors).

Sturgeon’s Mill

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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Comments

  1. Will says:

    Here are a few pics of the Hull-Oakes mill. I used to work on the rail line that serviced the mill. They have made some really huge beams. http://www.garymkatz.com/ontheroad/hulloaks.htm

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