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PORT CRAIG.

GREAT SAWMILLING VENTURE. UP-TO-DATE AMERICAN ■ ’ PLANT. AN AUSPICIOUS OPENING. Far out towards tho extreme western point o’f To Wno Wae Bay, on the coast of Southland, lies a tiny patch of sand, protected by a headland, and figuring on the maps as Muscle Beach. Before the sixties it was' one of the few spots bearing a name ;in an unknown land, the reason being that it was noted by Captain Cook, and that hero was established a shore whaling station nt the timo when operations were active at Preservation Inlet and Stewart Island. Forest-clad hills, dominated by the Hump (3500 ft 1 and the snow-capped Princess Mountains beyond, together with a rough and almost inaccessible coast, securely protected the adjoining areas from the hand of man. After tho whaling days were over it was only a rare visitor that landed at the spot and it almost seemed as if tho beach were to sink back into Iho oblivion from which it had sprung. But this was not to be. The bush was known to abound in excellent ritnu, and during later years attracted tho attention of many millers; but the obstacles seemed insuperable, To open up tho way an immense, outlay , of capital was required, and the rugged nature of the country precluded all thought of logging by prevailing methods. Five years ago, however, the late Mir John Craig, manager of the Marlborough Timber Company, of Christchurch, looking round for a new field of operations, made a careful investigation, and decided that, given courageous support, it was possible - to open up a plant on a large scale. He put tho proposition before the directors and paid a special mission to America to personally inquire into the most approved and up-to-date of lumber methods. He returned full of enthusiasm, and suggested to his company the immediate establishment of an almost automatic plant, capable of delivering 40,000 ft of sawn timber every day. The mill was costly; but a greater problem than that of its cost was how it was to bo fed and how tho timber was to be got away. Mr Craig was thoroughly prepared. He proposed the erection of a breakwater to create ia port, ami explained the working of the great Lidger Wood overhead hawler, a massive piece of machinery, weighing 80 tons, and capable of dealing with a rqdius of half a mde all round without shifting. The company decided to go ahead, the plant was ordered, and to-day it is in complete running order and employing nearly 100 hands. The breakwater has been built, wharves erected, and the company’s throe steamers —Orepuki, Opua, and Opihi—can be loatjed under ordinary normal conditions by punts as required. The port is by 'no means I complete, a great deal of development work yet having to be- done, as it is the intention of the company to secure some moans of loading direct, for which purpose a new wharf is being carried right out into the sea at a point where vessels may ride head on to the swell. Muscle Beach, however, is no longer Muscle Beach; it is Port Craig. The place was inaccessible except in fine weather, and the too-daring spirit of Mr Craig cost him his life. He was drowned at Waikouai, ;five miles away, when landing in a surf .boat, just when the initial work and layout ■of tho plant had been completed (November, 1917). His death was a great blow to the company, which suffered an irreparable loss, and it was not till tho present manager, Mr Peter Dsly, was appointed two years ago that tho original project "was re-organised -and put on the sound footing on which it stands today. Mr Craig was a man who claimed the respect and esteem of all who worked under him, and after his death the men approached the company with a request that the Government should be asked to accecd 'to their wish and honour his name perpetually by calling the place ,Port Craig. .The change was made and duly gazetted. The present manager, Mr Daly, went to Southland with the reputation of being one of the foremost millers on the West Coast, and his work has justified the confidence the company placed in him. The company has been operating at Nydia Bay, Polorous Sound, since 1907, the plant there being eqiial to tho best standard type in tho dominion. A_ feature of the operations there is the bringing of the timber from the Opuri Valley over a hill 1500 ft high to the bay, -and the two mills are cutting LOOO.COOft yearly, and employing (in tho bush, in ;tbe mills, and on the wharves) a totaF bf between 60 and 70 hands. These operations, are indicative of the sterling qualities .. of the late Mi’ Craig and the enterprise of the company, and when if was decided to open up Muscle Beach a complete departure was made from existing methods. The plant ordered was a big American mill, tho product of the Sumner Iron : Works, i of Everett, Washington, U.S.A., together with an overhead ijtijvler by. the Lidger Wood Company, this being, Mr Craig considered, the plant most suited to New Zealand The original erection of tho milPivaa commenced under the superintendence 1 of an American, Mr Wright, who decided the actual site and laid the foundations, Hr Craig’s death resulted in a long cessation of the work, but after Mr Daly took charge it was resumed, tho Sumner Works., sending over Mr D. Wilder as. superintendent, an officer who has been responsible.,;for the erection of huge plants in all parfs •of the world, including South America., China, and the teak forests of the Indo-Ohini Peninsula. • Mr .Craig’s death was npt tho only set back the company suffered. The launchman, Mr .Fred Parry, of Riverton, perished ■with hirg, and just II months later Mr Craig’ai' ' i br<sthor was killed by an explosion ;in ona, : tj{( the cuttings on the main tramline. *A£j;little later another fatality occurred,*'a young man, Mr'Basil Cox, losing his life, ~.through being thrown into tho water.! while’' wearing gum boots. i

The; main tramline has been already laid over a mil© into the bush, and here the Lidger Wood (already familiarly termed the ledgerwood) is hard at work. Formation work -is being actively carried on for a

considerable distance ahead, a costly business owing 16 the weight of the heavier and the rough nature ot the country to bo traversed,. heavy cuttings requiring to be blasted ,-Clgreat part of the way. The work Ida*permanent, however, as the company estimates that the timber supply in sight will supply'even the huge capacity of the; pant for 50 or 60 years. To .erect the mill and build the settleinleint ; and port a standard type plant capable of cutting 10,C00ft per day was erected at the outset, and this has been in constant operation. The company is dealing -vrith its employees on a modern scheme of" housing, and the camp is remarkable for ‘the number and quality of its buildings. There is a fine dining room and social hall, a school, billiard room, library, store, and post and telegraph office. . The men are in no way herded together, and all the living arrangements axe excellent. Needless to say the capital expenditure incurred has been very heavy. The development work is by no means complete, but already a sum much in excess ofj £IOO,OOO has been spent. The mill and equipment is the most modern in New Zealand and certainly by far the best yet seen in southern parts. The :■ population is already numerous, numbering somewhere about 150. There are many families, and 30 children arc in attendance at the school. The whole popn■■latjou with the exception of the schoolmaster is directly connected with the company, which is responsible for everything in the place from the bush to the wharves. There is no other settle-

ment, .and as the kind is Crown land and the company has only licenses to cut the timber! it will probably be many years before-jother sett'ements can penetrate. Per-

mission was secured to clear an area around the spot, knd this had already been done. The existing licenses apply only to some 4000 ' rtcrea, sufficient to supply the mill for three or four years, but the timber in sight is almost limitless, and outside Port Craig itself there seems to be no access. The usual •route to get to the snot is by way of Tuatapore and along the beach, the lost five miles being accomplished by launch from Bluncliff, where a landing stage _ has been swryig on the suspension principle high above the reach of the waves,i 1 When the weather is rough and the launches cannot run there is no alterbut to trovers" a rough bush trail seven Jn iles round. This follows the track out mttnv years ago to carry the. te'egrapb v line to the Puyscnir lighthouse. The road / from Timtapere is metalled for seven or . eight miles almost to the beach (’Krskine’sl, / and then it eposes. A mere enrt track ends ■; in. a precipitous descent dorm a rubble face, there are several mil e s of loose, heavy shingle along the beach, and then, when the tide is out a fine stretch of level sand, broken qnlv_ by occasional streams and the Powalferi River, for 15 piles. The bench can bjt negotiated pleasantly onls for a

few hours between tides, for it is very flat, and once the tide Ims well turned there is no option but to hike to the loose shingle piled under the cliffs all the way_ along. No one who has had this experience is likely to wish to repeat the ordeal, and a close acquaintance with the state of tho tide is a natural characteristic of the dwellers at Port Craig. One of the launches is the Seabird, a craft capable of doin~ 11| knots per hour, and well known in Auckland rps the boat that caught the Motuilu escapees during the war, the captain of the See Adler and his companions. The other is the launch Venus. Four miles beyond Port Craig is Sandhill Point, and nearby once stood a Maori pa, where, it is believed, the last battle between the native races was fought. An ample water supply exists, and sufficient pressure can be obtained to deal with any outbreak of fire. As regards accidents to the men, or sickness in the camp, the launch can reach Riverton ftho nearest hospital) in about a couple of hours. The camp is connected bv telephone with Tuntapere, and there is also the telegraph. The mail is carried twice a week. THE PLANT.

Tho plant is entirely tho product of tho .Sumner Iron Works. Tho power is derived from a double cylinder engine of 375 horsepower, and the main driving belt is no less than 24 inches in width, double solo leather, the cost of which is £1 per foot. Its life, however, is a long one, Mr Wilder stating that it should be still in* perfect order 21 years hence. Ho docs not regard it as anything out of tho ordinary: in America, as a matter of fact, it would he regarded ag quite a small one, plants of four and five times tho capacity of that at Port Craig being by no means unknown, with belts of corresponding greatness and strength. The steam is derived from two 150 horse-power boilers, and provision is made for the installation of another. This will probably be necessary as the demands on the boilers when the mill is in full going are very heavy. There is no firing, the fuel being merely green sawdust fed direct by conveyers from tho saws. Only one attendant is needed, controlling traps on the sawdust carrier so as to regulate tho amount , being fed to the furnaces. These are on the floor beneath, but the sawdust passes through circular openings direct into them nncFer tho attendant’s feet. They are of quite exceptional design, the construction being scientifically accurate just to accomplish their purpose of consuming the fuel, and the resultant fire is a revelation to everyone acquainted only -with older methods. There are no ashes to worry about, the small quantity of waste falling through below the fires being carried off by a constant flow of water to a race outside, Tho actual possibility of the special form of furnace is well indicated, by the fact that before the tall chimneys were erected the plant was given a trial run and perfect combustion obtained despite tho apparent want of draught. Slabs are necessary only to start the fire when it is actually “dead,” but this should never occur while the plant is in operation, as it is part of the nightwatchman’a duty to throw sawdust in from time to time, a large quantity being dropped at hand for this special purpose. Being over the furnaces this sawdust is dry, and the draught being shut off it merely smolders quietly in the furnace until the attendant comes along in the morning and sets all going once more.

To understand the plant it is best to start at tho skids, where the tree barrels are delivered. The first operation is identical that of nine-tenths of the mills in this country, consisting merely of connecting a rope with the end of one of the jogs and, drawing it forward, a winch being installed for the purpose. _ In the case of the Port Craig plant this winch ia driven by a friction clutch, instantly reversible. But here begins tho first of tho marvels of this wonderful machinery. A series of powerful spiked rollers mechanically driven extends along tho front of the skids leading to the breakdown and for a short distance outside the mill to meet tho incoming log. The first roller (every one is concave so that tho log lies securely in it) catches the end and draws it forward, releasing the winch of further duty. From one roller it is passed on to another till the logman finds he has the right length. Then he pulls a lever, a great steam-driven cross-cut saw descends and a moment later is ripping off whatever length may have been _ decided upon. This operation is quickly _ performed, the original lever is again pulled, and tho spiked rollers carry the log into position to bo tumbled on to the skids to roll down towards tho breakdown bench. There is no “jacking.’ The mill is a great two-storied affair with nil the driving gear beneath, and under the skids is a huge piston resting in a great steam cylinder. A press with the foot on the part of the logman opens a valve, the steam drives the piston up, operating three powerful levers, which connect with the log on tho under and outer size, casting it ignominiously forth from its apparently secure resting place and leaving it no option but to go its destined way. The logman has an assistant, and except in very exceptional circumstances has not tho slightest occasion to leave the platform from which he has complete control of every operation without shifting his stand. The assistant’s duty is to connect the wire rope with each tree as it is required and occasionally to taka a cant hook and give a twitch to an unrttly log not round enough in tho barrel to cause it to roll down tho skids of its own accord. A particularly ugly log may sometimes give trouble in the rolls through the ejection level's being unable to connect vitally, but, such an occurrence is very rare.

There is no danger at the breakdown. The first log- to rcaoh it is securely caught in the “loader,” three massive half circles of steel beyond which it cannot travel. Here the head sawyer, indeed the “key” to the whole mill, has his stand and takes charge. Underneath are several wonders of mechanical ingenuity. The first causes the loader to turn a complete circle' throwing its burden on to the bench, at the same time retarding any movement of the press of logs behind, and then catching the next in order just as if it had accomplished nothing at all, though the whole thing was the work of a second. Then a new wonder appears on the scene. This is the “nigger.” At the sawyer’s hand is a simple lever with a joggle four ways, a single inch each way. Each joggle controls a movement. One causes, the nigger to rise, a powerful steel beam with ugly notches whoso merciless grip the log cannot resist. By joggling his control the sawyer may roll the log ov.er, crowd it up on the carriage, throw it back or “put it down.” It cannot avoid the nigger, as on the far side it is securely prevented from effecting escape by straight sturdy uprights of steel, the outposts of a powerful mechanism controlling the distance of the log when set out to the saw. As soon as the nigger has performed its task and the log lies in position for the first facing the sawyer gives a sign, an assistant on the carriage pulls a lever, and the log is secured by the Reliance dog. Another sign and a second assistant brings into operation the mechanical set works driven by cable rope power, this being necessary owing to the fact that the bench has to travel down the saws. The sot works are a substantial contrivance, but the control is of the simplest description, the assistant merely turning a handle round a dial face to a, given number of feet or inches, and the machinery doing the rest. The whole of these operations tike only a minute and the log is then sent on its way through the saws, the two assistants remaining on the bench and never leaving their posts, while the sawyer himself remains at his controls. Talking is impossible owing to noise, and everything is worked by sawyers’ signs. The breakdown saws are Mho customary “twins.” the lower saw 66in and the upper 60in, driven by 24-inoh belting similar to that used in the main drive from the engine. This belt, like all the other important belts in the mill, has a “tightener,” a wheel pressure controlled by a weighted lover arrangement. The cutting is done at remarkable speed. Once the log is brought to a face the “nigger” may be again brought into requisition and the log turned any wav desired, generally either down on the flat or with the flat against_ the set works, running a new face on the side next, the saws. The slabs and flitches all fall on mechanic-ally-driven rollers controlled by the “tailorout.” The slabs he diverts, causing them to travel clear of an outomatic trip, and he cast later on to the floor, whore they are seized by a live chain dragging arrangement and passed through a set of saws which cut them up into 'short sections. Thov then drop into a traveller and are carried off. This part of the equipment is not yet, complete. The carrier will eventually pass the slabs into a huge fire in the gully a hundred yards below tbo mill, or deliver them by means of a gate or trap at a snot whore they may ho automatically loaded for use on the locomotives and about the camp. In the meantime all are being saved, but the method is the old rough and ready one of hands. The treatment of the flitches themselves is just os automatic. There are two routes along which the tailer-nut may send them. One is direct forward, towards the trip the slabs must clear: the other is a diversion across the mill to the “pony rig.” This latter is a remarkable contrivance._ built partly for speed and partly to save timber, the saw gauge being considerably less than that of the breakdown. Thus a double

economy is effected, an economy of time and an economy of timber. The carriage is worked^direct by steam, an Sin steam cylinder bOft long operating, an equally long piston Sin in diameter, connected with the front of (ho traveller. Otherwise the equipment is precisely the same as that on the breakdown carrier. There arc the same two assistants, the same dogging arrangement, and the same mechanical set works; also the same “nigger.” The bench is capable of taking a feed from one to 16 inches wide, and will deal with three 6iu flitches or two Sin flitches, sawing both at the same time. AH’ is under the control of the pony “sawyer,” who, like everyone else in the mill, need never leave his allotted post. The tailer-oul merely brings the clutch to bear by a foot-trip, a set. of live chains rises above the level of the rollers, and the flitch travels across at right navies towards the pony rig. Halfway over it falls dead. The other side is controlled by the pony sawyer. Ho has a similar trip working his’end. When he wants the flitch ho causes it to come across; another trip and the nigger promptly casts up his head and performs his duty, pitching the timber on to the traveller and crowding it against the set works. A sign to the dogman and another to the gaugeman 1 and everything is right, the saw screaming through a moment later, w-ith never,a word said and not a moment lost. The sawn timber falls on the roller way and proceeds to its destination, of which more hereafter. And now appears the advantage of the steam drive. Fast as the carriage has passed down the saw it is as nothing to the return. It darts back under a full steam pressure, and with the gain of many seconds is again on its way down the cut, delivering an almost uninterrupted supply of sawn planks till another set of flitches is required. In the centre of the mill stands the “edger.” ■ There is no necessity to dwell upon it. The principle is one in common application in every up-to-date mill, a set of saws capable of adjustment at any desired distance one from the other to cut a series of planks ■ or boards at the same time. There are four saws in this particular machine, on a four-inch arbor (spindle). The machine opens to take in a flitch eight inches thick and 48 inches in width, and is operated by the edgerman and bis assistant. The saws can bo placed at any dis-‘ tance by scale from three inches to 40 inches apart, thife cutting from 3 x 1 to 40 x 1, or 8 x 3 to 40 x 8. The setting is the work only of a moment. As with the pony breakdown the flitches need not bo dealt with separately, bqt placed on lop of one another so long ns they come within the machine’s limits, and are clean enough to cut alike. The stacking, however, is done at, the saws as the flitches fall, not at the edger. The feeding of the timber across to the edger. however, is another matter. The travelling roller way from the breakdown benches passes some distance to the left hand side, and the way from the pony bench a similar distance on the other. The flitches coming direct down from the twin saws reach the trip that the slabs are diverted to clear, and .automatically bring into play a similar diverting arrangement to that operated by the tailer-out when he wishes to pass timber across to the “pony.” In this case also the timber falls “ dead ” half way ; the rest of the distance is in the control of the edgerman’s assistant. The pony bench timber does not divert itself automatically; the diversion is under the control of the sawyer, the reason being that some of the lumber from the pony is finished, and does not need the edtrer, being passed straight on beyond it. Most of it, however, is diverted, and also falls dead half way over. The edger is thus fed from both sides, and it will readily be gathered is a pretty busy machine, both the edgerman and his assistant being kept fully employed. Everything _ that passes through, however, is quite finished except for the “docking.” A great deal of sawdust is being created by all these operations, but the two boilers are greedy of fuel, and the supply must he augmented,.. It is here at the edger that this is achieved. The waste pieces are not large, and instead of finding their way on to a live floor they are dropped into a hopper and there chewed up as in a bone mill, joining the sawdust to enab’e operations to contirfuo. A similar fate befals the slabs from the ponv rig. these alsc being of a sort amenab’e to such treatment. The powerful knives beneath, like the insignificant boy who blows the organ, really perform a signal service in the mill, for should, they go on strike the whole plant would “quickly find itself at a standstill. The pony delivery, edger delivery, and breakdown delivery, for even the automatic diversion of this last can be stopped at will, all end in a straight line across the lower end of the fcui'ding, and each finished plank or board falls down on to n live floor, a , set of constantly moving chains travelling at right angles to the mi’l and carrying the timber across to the left. Here it is delivered to the docker and his assistant. The docking is nuite a simple matter. There is a rising platform similar to that'of the slab saws, but in this case the saws are set at correct two feet intervals, and each is disappearing. The docker, or trimmerman as he is called, has complete control. . He may’ cause any saw or any set of saws to. rise at will. He can dock the two ends of a stick at the same time, and if necessary also take a bad piece out of the middle, using four saws in nil. There is a little; handling here, just a. push a few inches either way to start a stick in the right position. The saws are worked by friction clutches; no manual power is necessary here any more than elsewhere, and the handling is simplified by the fact that the assistant is always at the far end of the moving timber. The traveller is irresistible, every few links of the chains having a steel upright drawing the sticks along. This, and the rising nature of the platformscensures a steady. square passing over the saws. The chains of the traveller are eight feet apart, the consequence being that nothing under eight feet in length remains upon it, the waste dropping into the slabway and being carried off to destruction. Everything over eight feet long tumbles on to a long, independent traveller passing down the hillside 150 ft to the wharf.. Here handcarts await it, two men at either side loading these up and passing them over to the yardmen—classers, tallymen, and shippers. Within a few minutes of a log bejng first tumbled on to the breakdown the complete operation has been concluded, and were a shij> ready in the port performances might bo accomplished that would, delight the heart of any American. One point omitted, it may bo as well to mention. It has been pointed out that the traveller from the breakdown is continued also to the delivery floor, despite the self trip to the edger. This is to enable extra heavy lumber to be cut direct on the breakdown. The automatic trip is thrown out of action, and an extra size docking saw can be brought into play before the iunk leaves the traveller. The route to the wharf is then the same as that taken by the other timber. Any section and any piece of the machinery can be started or stopped without interference with the rest of the mill, this being accomplished by paper friction; face to face with cast iron wheels. At the skids things might require attention, but the mill goes on. The breakdown can stop temporarily, the “pony” be thrown out of action, the edger or any of the live ways, and nothing worse happen than a temporary piling up of timber at tho particular spot. The traveller to the wharf is controlled at the wharf, just as the’traveller to the trimmerman is controlled by that employee. It. is a fine plant, but ns Mr Wilder pointed out. it wants brains. Given these and an adequate supply of timber, tho mill should prove an object lesson throughout tho dominion; it is certainly a revolution in the milling methods of Southland. Tho whole plant, inclusive of tho engine room, and excluding the wharves, can be operated by 20 men, and little more is required of them than that they should keep their heads and stick closely to the job on hand. The pace, however, demands the boat, of sawyers. men who can size up the exact possibilities of a log without hesitation or serious error. THE LIDGER WOOD. Tho Lidger Wood overhead hawler, a remarkable contrivance, has already become famous throughout the milling districts of Southland. Its speed in action is wonderful. Net only does it do the hauling. but without any interruption of this work it loads tho trollies, so that, given a sufficiency of these, the bank can always be kept quite clear, while tho locomotive pursues steady, uninterrupted journeys back and forwards from the mill. A track is cut through tho hush for half a mile, and all the timber tocomo that way is felled m advance. There is no cutting into logs, tho tops only being removed and the barrel brought in whole. Tho ‘overhead rope : s a heavy steel cable anchored securely at either end, after passing through a block on a mast 120 ft high. It is not directly secured at the hauler end, a block and tackle strainer being interposed to apply any tension that may bo desired. This tackle :s connected with a drum on the hauler, and like every other drum on the machine, this has one function, and one only, to except when required either to release the tension or to tighten up tho suspension cable. The result is that should anything go wrong with the cable or with the travelling blocks suspended on it the whole can bo _ lowered to tho ground or raised again without any

effort .other than the movement of a clutch on tho machine. Two other drums have charge of, tho travelling blocks— one for tho haul, the other for the return. Yet other drums have charge of u further gear by which another cable reeved through a small block on the side on the travelling block gives two chains of slack on the main haul. This can be man-hauled to any spot within the limits of that distance. It servos a further purpose in that the idea is not to carry the whole weight of tho logs on the suspension cable, hut to trail them, casing the dead weight by allowing one end to rest on the ground. This is accomplished by the “slack,” which is under perfect control, being lengthened or shortened at a moment’s notice as desired. Tim mast carries four blocks—two for the haul rope going and returning, and two for tho rope controlling the slack, going and returning. The power of the plant may bo gauged from tho fact that three great trees can .be brought along at one time, travelling the whole length of. half a mile in a few minutes. The only hands in the vicinity are those on the hauler and those at the logging end, communication between the parties being by electric whistle, all signals, of course, coming from the bush end. The logs arc secured merely by having a wire rope passed over them at the butt, the work of a moment. No other bush work is carried on in the vicinity, and -accidents are practically impossible, apart from gross carelessness, as the machinery is “dead” till tho signal is received- Should anything go wrong with the whistle, the machinery is still “dead,” as no whistle to haul can be given. Tho loading is done by a drum on the front end of the hauler. It is quite simple, and docs away entirely with skids. All that is necessary is to place a couple of grapnels at either end of tho log, the signal to hoist is given, and the log comes directly over the trucks and is steadied into place. A ground hauler is to be installed as an auxiliary, working out corners where the Lidgor Wood could not be operated profitably, and generally assisting its mightier brother to perform service worthy of its . powers. OFFICIAL OPENING. Tho plant was'officially opened - cm Thum day of last week, tho ceremony taking place at the bottom end of the mill at tho bench deliveries. An official party was present from Christchurch, these being Messrs R. L. Scott (chairman of directors), D Reece (managing director), and W. 11. Banks (director). Present by invitation were Messrs H. Cram (son of the late Mr Craig). T. O’Byrnc (president of the Southland Sawmills Workers’ Union), Captain Ellis (Director of Forestry), Macphorson (Conservator of State Forests), C. M. Malfroy (Forestry Department, Wellington), Norman Heath (representing Cooke’s Wire Ropes, Sheffield). Jas. Mnckin (Atkins Saws, U.S.A.), and others. The whole settlement was on its best behaviour, the day being gloriously fine, and the proceedings were of happy augury for the future; ' ; Mr Scott, in declaring tho mill open, said that when Mr Wright came over from America the deep gully over which the plant was erected immediately caught his eye, and he declared emphatically that “God had made it for n sawmill,” ami that there the mill should be erected. He congratulated Mr Wilder and his assistants on the successful accomplishment of their work. Ho was pleased to say that they were in a position to demonstrate what the plant could do, and he trusted that in future they would have a good run, with benefit and profit both to the employees and to the company. Mr Reece, in a short address, recounted the history of the undertaking, making special reference to the regrettable loss of Mr Craig, whose death had been such a blow, not bnlv to tho company itself, but to all the men who worked under him. Mr Reece made fitting reference also to the other valuable lives lost, and expressed tho hope that now tho plant was to commence operations there would be an end to such misfortunes. He paid a tribute to tho loyalty and enthusiasm of tho workers engaged at the mill, and hoped that these good relations would continue in the days to come. Captain Ellis congratulated tho company on tho enterprise it had displayed. He wished it the success due to the courage and imagination the late Mr Craig had displayed, and expressed tho hope that a happy community would exist at Port Graig for many years. The company had done a great deal for the welfare of tho workers and. deserved well at their hands. Mr O’Byrne, in opening, remarked that four years ago there was not a person in the place; to-day it was a centre of great activity. They had had a look at the Lidger Wood hauler at work, and it was a revelation to every bushman. The plant, too, bflered’’ marvellous surprises. He shared the feelings of Captain Ellis, and . wished the company, on behalf of all the workers, the success that was its due. Tho company had done the best it could for the workers, and the workers had done the best they could for the company. Ho hoped that these conditions would continue in the future as in tho past, and that tho same happy relationship would bo maintained. At a time when every enterprise was curtailing expenditure the company had gone boldly forward with the erection of the mill, the building of the tramway, and the construction of the port and camp, providing work for a hundred people, and doing more for Southland in the time of stress than the Power Board, which had ceased its operations. He hoped that the men would put their shoulders to the wheel and make the mill pay, giving a good return for the capital invested. ' Tho children were ordered to the visitors gallery, the rest of the company warned not to pass beyond conspicuous danger boards, and Mrs Daly, wife of the manager, was conducted to the engine-room to turn on the steam. In a few moments everything was, in full swing. The first log was thrown ignotniniously on to the breakdown traveller, bundled about like a fretful child in an angry mother’s arms, and in less than a minute was passin/r down the saws, elbowing a clean face, while the first slabs passed to their allotted doom. Flitch by flitch the log quickly disappeared; tho edgerman was fully occupied, and tho finished boards were passing over the trim-mer-man’s saws and on their way to the lumber buggies at the foot traveller leading down to tho wharf * yard* The pony breakdown was not at‘ first set in action, and advantage was to pass down the ‘-deadV side of the and see ’what was going forward. '.Half ft 1 hour later’' this saw also was in operation, and the capacity of the plant wras fully revealed, net a' moment passing. m whica every man was hot engaged in the direct production of the finished artic.e. As *ir Wilder said late that evening, when accepting a handsome cheque from the men,, there was the mill guaranteed to produce 40,000 ft of sawn timber a day; the SumneCompa.nv had provided tho plant—it was for the Marlborough Company to feed it Operations were continued till the visitors bad had time to inspect everything, and then a halt was called “to celebrate.’ A dance and social was held in the evening, a thoroughly enjoyable entertainment in which a considerable amount of musical and elocutionary talent was revealed. The men. were, of course, in great preponderance, but the number of womenfolk already settled at Port Craig was evidenced in the fact that the floor was always fairly full. A happy feature was tho ’ attitude of the great bushmen to the children, several girls well under tho teens being .constantly in request as partners, and kept going throughout tho evening. During an interval towards the-close Mr O’Byrne, oh behalf of the workers, presented Mr Wilder with a substantial cheque in token of their appreciation and esteem. He hod, he said, nothing but admiration for the manner in which Mr Wi'der had carried out his task, and for the manner in which he lin’d taught the men to do their work. He assured Mr Wild pith at tho men deeply appreciated his kind'noss to them, and ho asked him to accept tho gift not for its itself but. for the spirit in which it was given. Messrs J. M‘Cormnek and R. Wells bore testimony to the splendid manner in which the machinery had been installed, and expressed the deen sense of indebtedness felt by all the hands t 6 Mr Wilder for his patience with thorn and the genuine desire he had always evinced that (hey should _ fully understand and master its intracicies. They congratulated Mr Wilder on the successful accomplishment of his work at Port Craig, and expressed the regret of all that he was about to leave them. Mr Reece assured Mr Wilder that the directors were thoroughly pleased with tho manner in which tho plant had been operated and the manner in which it had been erected. They bad Already despatched a cablegram to (he Sumner works to say that it, had hod a successful run. Mr Wilder, in tho course of his reply, thanked “ the hoys ” who had worked with him, and assured them that their gift was accepted for ‘ the spirit that prompted it and not for itself. His purpose at Port Craig was to erect the plant, not to receive bouquets. Now his task was complete. and : n a few days he would be saying farewell, hut he extended to_ one and all a hearty invitation to look him ur> in* America if ever they were there, and he would do his to show them round. Ho had onioyed himself at Port Craig, and a’tbouph the New oalandera there might have learned something about lurnh-r plants he could assure them that ho .also had learned a great deal that ha did not know before. He had travelled three times round tho globe, and had erected plants in quite a number of places, but he had never met “ a more jolly

bunch of fellows than in the city of Port Graig.” The mill, when fully equipped, would produce at least 40,COOft of lumber for every eight working hours. There was not a man engaged in it who was not eligible to become a sawyer if he had tho will and set himself to learn. It was a plant that all of them should ho proud of, and ho would urge every one of (he crew to seek to become proficient in it. It was only tho forerunner of similar plants in tho dominion, and men with a thorough knowledge cf it would ho in great request. He hoped that they would make a success of it, both for their own sakes and for tho company.

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Bibliographic details

Otago Daily Times, Otago Daily Times, Issue 18363, 29 September 1921

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6,952

PORT CRAIG. Otago Daily Times, Issue 18363, 29 September 1921

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