June 19, 2007 > Lumber Mills and Yards
Lumber Mills and Yards
The authors of the History of Washington Township noted in 1950 that lumber mills have always assumed an important place in the Township." The Historical Atlas of Alameda County depicts lithographs of houses, barns and other buildings built of lumber. The lumber did not magically appear here for these buildings. It was transported by boats, wagons, and later railroads, usually purchased at lumber yards or mills.
Many of the early day buildings were built with lumber brought to the yard at Jarvis Landing. Schooners were bringing cargoes of lumber even after the railroads came. One pioneer recalled that the Jarvis yard enjoyed a monopoly for years. The 1898 Special Edition reported that there was only one lumber yard in Washington Township until the S.H. Chase Lumber Co. of San Jose opened the Centerville Lumber Yard about 1893. They carried a large and varied stock of redwood and pine lumber, doors, sashes, moldings and fruit boxes.
The Newark Lumber Company was founded in the 1890's and in 1910 was described as the largest concern of its kind in the county outside of Oakland. They had nearly 40 employees and featured a sawmill, planning mill and dry kiln. They advertised fire-proof, water-proof, heat-proof and damp-proof roofing materials. They also had "material for stopping leaks."
The Robert Dollar Company of San Francisco established an office in Niles and by 1909 was receiving large shipments. They carried one of the largest stocks of lumber in the township with about a million and a half feet in their Niles Yard. However, they sold out to P.C. Hansen & Co. in 1910.
P.C. Hansen moved his grain shipping business to Jarvis Landing and began shipping lumber as well as grain. He left the shipping business in 1906 to found P.C. Hansen & Co., later known as the P.C. Hansen Lumber Company. His first lumber yard and planning mill were in Centerville. The firm purchased the business of the Robert Dollar Company at Niles in 1910 and established a branch yard at Irvington in 1922. Other yards were opened at Alvarado, Newark and Decoto. Niles became the company's head office in a handsome, modern building in 1931.
The Hansen Yard at Irvington was reported closed by 1932, and the Irvington Lumber Co. was established near the railroad. Wes Hammond noted in his Irvington book that the company used the Southern Pacific Depot "as a storage area" for several years.
Hansen died in 1935, but the company continued as a leading dealer of lumber and building supplies into the 1950's. Hansen was supported by men who grew up in the firm such as George Bond and his son George Bond, Jr. at Niles and Chris Hygelund and his son Earl at Centerville. The branches were closed and the business consolidated at Niles and Centerville by the 1940's.
John P. Dolan started a building material business in San Pablo after serving in World War II. Searching for new fields, he bought property on Peralta Boulevard and opened a branch of the J. P. Dolan Lumber Co. next to the International Kitchen. The company featured materials for weekend "do-it-yourselfers" and served as distributors for many nationally-advertised building material products. The business centered on the small buyer with special consideration for "women who either did the work themselves or prodded their husbands into doing it."
The Warm Springs Lumber Company was established in 1953 and "grew from a plot of bare land to a major retail and wholesale distributor of lumber in the East Bay." The firm maintained a variety of modern mechanical equipment including an automatic rafter cutter, fork lifts, lumber carriers, pickups and ten wheelers to serve the needs of contractors.
Warren Osborne established the Osborne Lumber Company in Newark in 1950. Ken Fogarty bought the company in the late 1970's and it is now run by the 3rd generation of family members.
E. H. Hulbert, a prominent mill operator in Washington State, opened the Hulbert Lumber Company in Newark in 1957. The company still operates as "a full service lumber yard."
According to the AT&T 2007 telephone book, all local retail lumber yards are located in Newark. Besides Osborne and Hulbert, they include Golden State, Newark and Fremont Fence. Sierra Pacific Industries in Fremont is listed as a manufacturer.