Steam Powered Sawmill

One of the original structures at the area was the sawmill. The sawmill assembly was manufactured by American that came out of the Deer Lodge area. We were able to find some treated timbers from an Old Milwaukee bridge Champion had acquired. Building the structure was all done by volunteers. Since the 1980’s, the Troutwine family has let us use their Case steam engines to power the sawmill. Many thanks to the Troutwine’s for being involved for so many years. (Marvin, Bruce, Andy)


In the late 1990’s, we needed more room to add an edger and planer. We were able to find some treated timbers from Hunt’s Timbers in St. Ignatius. We built the addition and now covers our edger run by a Lister 3-cyliner diesel and a planer run by a LeRoi gas engine.


We run the sawmill several times a year at Forestry Days (Last weekend in April), 4th of July, and Harvest Festival in the fall. It takes a crew of 6-10 people to run the steam engine, run the mill, pull green chain and move slabs. The slabs from one demonstration are cut and dried to run the engine boiler the next demonstration. Local sawmill or loggers donate the logs we cut on the mill. Sometimes we’ll cut boards and timbers for an upcoming restoration project, other times we sell the boards to folks who want that old circular saw pattern.


Safety is our main concern when running the sawmill during demonstrations. Every effort is made to protect our volunteers and the crowd.


Many thanks to Missoula Saws who annually hammers and sharpen the saw blade. Rusty Hunt (Hunts Timbers) comes down and helps touch up the saw and lend his expertise. 


There are only a handful of steam powered sawmills left in the county. We need to preserve that history.