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Even before the rails of the Sabine and East Texas reached the new railroad camp at Kountze, Olive and Sternenberg began shipping cars of lumber to Hardin County and freighting it by wagon over the remaining miles to the new mill town of Olive. Mill machinery and supplies followed in August, 1881, and within a few weeks, one newspaper observed that:

Messrs. Olive and Sternenberg’s new Sunset Sawmill in the Hardin County pineries, on the East Texas [rail] line is being pushed ahead to completion. This is an enterprising firm and deserves every success.14

Three weeks later, the same editor added: “A few miles farther [north of Kountze], the Sunset Sawmill of Olive and Sternenberg will cut its first lumber on next Monday morning.”15 No description of that earliest mill machinery at Olive survives, but it probably was a duplicate of the Centennial mill’s machinery, capable of sawing 40,000 feet daily. Cutting equipment installed at three other new sawmills at Beaumont (although one less circular saw than the Centennial had) between 1878 and 1880 were identical, a single 5-gang saw and one circular saw.16

Another early description of the proprietors’ two mills survives, as follows:

In 1876, they [Olive and Sternenberg] built the Centennial mill at Beaumont, at that time the largest sawmill in the South, and they operated it until 1883. In 1881, they built the Sunset mills at Olive, which they operated in connection with the Centennial mill until the latter was dismantled. Since then, they have turned their whole attention to the Sunset mill, which they have continually improved and enlarged until it is a first class mill in every respect and second to none in the state…17

14Beaumont Enterprise, October 1, 1881.

15Ibid., “In the Pineries,” October 22, 1881.

16“Documents of the Early Sawmilling Epoch,” Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record, IX (November 1973), pp. 57-58.

17“Texas Lumber,” Galveston Daily News, July 27, 1889.

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