Minnesota Lumber: A Brief History!

The first lumber milled in our great state reportedly took place under the watchful eye of Colonel Josiah Snelling on the west side of the Mississippi River in 1824. It was a government run sawmill constructed at the falls of St. Anthony where a water wheel could provide the power required by the mill.

Not a decade later, immigrants just arriving and young men from New England and Maine, with an education in lumber and logging made their way west having heard about the many tall, straight pines of Minnesota. At three feet in diameter and well over 100 feet in height, these were big timbers!

While the market for lumber in the 1830’s wasn’t especially great, settlers arrived slowly and commercial lumber grew, due in part to Native Americans ceding their lands east of the Mississippi in 1837. According to the Minnesota Historical Society, “By 1900, more than 2.3 billion board feet of lumber was cut from the state’s forests. From that year alone, Minnesota pine could have built nearly 600,000 two-story homes or a boardwalk of nine feet wide encircling the world at the equator.”

In addition to providing the materials needed for the first homes and businesses in our state, lumberyards were a place to meet neighbors, get local news and the very best advice on how to navigate a new project. Lumberyards have survived the recent recession for serving these same purposes. There is no better place to obtain the very best materials and advice for projects large and small.

A quick tour of our many existing lumberyards in Minnesota will provide you with a historical snapshot of each of their early beginnings. We’ve included a few of the earliest starts here:

Stenerson Bros. Lumber – Pelican Rapids

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1885 Norwegian immigrant brothers; Sven, Gunder and Knute

Shaw/ Stewart Lumber – 368 State Street, St. Paul

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1886 Willis Ross Shaw & William Burns open WR Shaw Lumber Company

Lampert Yards – Sleepy Eye

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1887 Swiss immigrant brothers, Jacob and Leonard Lampert

Arrow Building Center – Stillwater

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1903 originally, five yards located in Stillwater, White Bear Lake, Mahtomedi and Roberts and Ellsworth, Wisconsin

Bayer Built has a rich history too, watch our YouTube video to learn more.