Like most southerners, I have a love/hate relationship with pine trees. They’re immensely useful when building a picnic table or fluffing flower beds with the straw they provide. But they also wreak havoc on allergy sufferers when pollen falls in sheets, changing the color of everything on which it lands.
Love them or hate them, the graceful southern pine tree is the foundation for our town and in a few short weeks we’ll forget all about its yellow pollen and sticky sap, and celebrate the town that timber built.
From Swamps to Splendor
In 1891, the Gardiner brothers from Iowa arrived in Jones county and purchased a sawmill operation and 16,000 acres of timberland and the Eastman-Gardiner Lumber Company was born. The Gardiners and their cousins, the Eastmans, sent for their families and set out to build their own slice of paradise amidst the piney woods of Laurel. As the men developed their business, Catherine Marshall Gardiner made it her mission to create a beautiful city for her family in the yellow pine capital of the world.
Like many great innovators before him, John Lindsey watched the progress of the ever-growing lumber town. He recognized a need and created a way to solve it. Soon, The 8-wheeled Lindsey Log Wagon was patented and folks from all over the world came to hear of a little town in South Mississippi.
By 1908, Mississippi ranked 3rd in the country for lumber production and Laurel was turning out 1,000,000 board feet of lumber a day.
Next, Laurel Machine & Foundry was created to supply parts for the Lindsey wagon and William H. Mason invented a process to create a hardboard from the waste provided by the mills, supplying the little piney woods town with more jobs and even more opportunities for growth.
Each inspiration, each problem solved was another brick laid in the bustling streets of a town on the rise. Laurel owes its foundation and its very spirit to the yellow Loblolly pine and those who saw ever-present opportunity even as the pollen covered their boots.
Be a #LoblollyLover and join us on Saturday, October 6, 2018 for a celebration of heritage in the town that timber built.