Lumber Business of the Tonawandas
Scores of lumber comanies spring up here, and their yards vaccum up almost every available inch of real estate along the Niagara River, Tonawanda Creek, and Tonawanda Island. Docks are built over the water, and millions of feet of lumber stored in great blocks are stacked to the sky. They are brought here largely on lake vessels from Lake Erie, where they are moved onto canal boats by lumbershovers and stevedores and hauled by canal boat captains (along with other goods) to points east.
The big business means big money, and conflict between the laborers and employers sometimes turns deadly. Articles in this collection describe the lumbershovers strikes of 1892 and 1893, the first of which resulted in the death of a police officer, and both of which required the National Guard to be deployed. A separate collection, "Murder at the Docks," digs into the 1895 double murder of canal boat captain Lorenzo Phillips and his son Charles as the captain attempted to haul a load of lumber from P. W. Scribner's Tonawanda dock in defiance of a boatmen's union agreement.
As the forests of the midwest were depleted and shipping routes and technology changed, the lumber heyday of the Tonawandas receded into the past.
Cowper & Gregory, Smith, Fassett & Co., ad (Commerce, Manufactures and Resources of Buffalo and Environs, 1880).jpg
Frederick Smith Bridge and Building Timber, ad (Commerce, Manufactures and Resources of Buffalo and Environs, 1880).jpg
Romer and Vielhauer, A. B. Williams, Howes & Evans, ads (Commerce, Manufactures and Resources of Buffalo and Environs, 1880).jpg
This illustrated booklet details the business of the Gratwick, Smith and Fryer Lumber Company, showing how they were able to be successful by…
Frederick Smith steam mill on Sweeney, Zacharia Taylor, woodcut and article - (Tonawanda Herald, 1881-12-01).jpg
Wooden steam barge, bulk freighter, package freighter and tugboats. The tugboat would sink in the Niagara River on July 16, 1900, killing the two men…
Tonawanda industries, growth of second-largest lumber port, article (Buffalo Courier, 1887-10-07).pdf
Good general, early description. Earliest settlers seem to only account for south-siders Lock built for Niagara-Creek access. Cleveland Commercial…
42nd Separate Company of Niagara Falls, stationed in Tonawandas to break lumber strike, photos (c.1892-1893).jpg
This company, formed in 1885 at the establishment of the Niagara Falls State Reservation, came out to the Tonawandas twice to quell lumber labor…
Excerpts from "Fixed Bayonets - The New York State National Guard during the era of industrial unrest, 1877–1898" by Ronald Howard Kotlik, 2005.art
Webmaster's Note: This 2005 dissertation from a UB student examines the seven times the Guard were dispersed between 1877–1898 to mediate local labor…
Weston's foreman, William Wood, has a bio in Landmarks of Niagara County (1897): Wood, W.W. — This representative citizen of North Tonawanda has been…
In 1893, located in Sawyer's Station area (view on map); Also a Tonawanda location at some point.
At Tonawanda, Scribner pleads with governor for protection, article (Jamestown Journal, 1893-06-22).jpg
Two years before the double murder, P. W. Scribner of the Eastern Lumber Company sends a telegram to Governor Flower on behalf of the area lumber…
The National Guard has been stationed at the bridge to the Little Island. Via the Citizens Committee of Tonawanda, unionized lumber shovers ask that…
Showing the Grace Holland.
Lumber yards in the Main, Island and Thompson Street area, map detail (Sanborn Map Company, 1910, 1913).jpg
Ray H. Bennett facilities. George Berry. Thompson, Hubman & Fisher.
Manhattan Street, lumber yards to Tonawanda Creek and Niagara River, map detail (Sanborn Map Company, 1910, 1913).jpg
Scribner, Meyers, Dodge & Bliss lumber yards. Bond Street.
Tonawanda harbor, Tonawanda Island, Goose Island, downtown, congested district map detail (Sanborn Map Company, 1910, 1913).jpg
Mills and Yards of the Eastern Lumber Co., illustration (Greater Buffalo NY Industrial Commercial, 1914).jpg
Birds-Eye View of the Tonawandas, Showing Portions of Lumber Interests, photo (Greater Buffalo NY Industrial Commercial, 1914).png
A view from the southern portion of a lumber-bedecked Tonawanda Island across the "Little (Niagara) River" onto a lumber-bedecked North Tonawanda.
42nd Separate Company of Niagara Falls 50th, illustrated article (Niagara Falls gazette, 1935-11-16).pdf
Article claims company organized in 1885 in response to need to enforce Niagara Falls State Reservation of that year. H. William Feder notes that the…