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Early in 1876, while visiting the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Olive “purchased the prize engine of E. P. Allison and Co. [sawmill manufacturers of Milwaukee], shipped to Beaumont, [where] it was the first [sawmill] engine south of the Mason-Dixon line that had a capacity of 50,000 feet a day.”

Immediately, the proprietors began building the Centennial Sawmill into the largest lumber manufactory then in Beaumont. Unlike Long and Company, whose product was limited solely to cypress shingles, the Centennial Mill installed one steam-driven shingle machine and three lumber saws, and it took its name from the centennial anniversary of American independence, which at that moment was still being celebrated in Beaumont. Sadly, however, the Allison sawmill depended on an out-of-date, friction-feed log carriage, and it was 1882 before another Beaumonter, Mark Wiess, invented the steam-driven, “shotgun-exhaust” log carriage that revolutionized Southern sawmilling. By December, 1877, one newspaper noted that “the Centennial mill of Messrs. Olive and Sternenberg cut 805,000 feet of lumber last month in 26 days.”3

3Galveston Weekly News, December 13, 1877; Daily News, December 13, 1877; Biography of S. C. Olive, Memorial and Biographical History of McLennan, Falls, Bell and Coryell Counties (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1893), p. 619; W. T. Block, “From Cotton Bales to Black Gold: A History of the Pioneer Wiess Families of Southeastern Texas,” Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record, VIII (November, 1972), p. 55; Obituaries of Mark Wiess, Beaumont Enterprise and Journal, July 2, 1910.

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