Kenfield & Lamoreaux

Home Sawmills

The Kenfield & Lamoreaux Box Factory was located approximately in the area of the present day disposal plant.

In January of 1896, E. E. Kenfield and O. A. Lamoreaux purchased the Washburn Manufacturing Company from Ben Smith of Ashland. The company had made sashes and doors but the business was not doing well. K&L became a thriving box factory, and besides manufacturing boxes, they also in the early years cut as many as 70,000 shingles a day for shipment to Chicago. Cedar logs were purchased locally from the John P. Jacobs company. By 1902, shipments amounted to over $100,000. 

In 1903 K&L contracted with some Ashland mills to provide them with lumber. Business was up considerably from the past year.  What K&L used for lumber was the waste from other mills.  They decided it was cheaper to have it transported all the way from Ashland by rail than to have it brought by team from Washburn.  200 cars per month of waste lumber was coming in from Ashland at a cost of $7,000 per month. They still were using a lot of waste from the Washburn mills to the tune of $5,000.  Wire reels were being manufactured for the American Steel and Wire Company to roll barbed wire on. Another large contract was with the American Stove Company to supply crating for stoves and sewing machines. An average of 35 carloads were shipped from the plant in Washburn each month. The products made were not assembled at Washburn, but at the destination. The largest piece of wood was 2 feet long, most much smaller. 500,000 of the smallest pieces fit in a box car. In this same manner a car could hold seven to ten thousand wire reels and ten thousand pieces of other products would fill up other cars. Even their sawdust and shavings were sold to the "Electric Lighting Plant". A total of 75 workers were employed at this time. 

In 1904 the plant was enlarged and new equipment including a new band saw, band re-saw, and boxing machines were installed. The main reason for expansion was for the manufacture of large wood reels for wire rope.

In 1906 they considered leaving Washburn because of the difficulty in getting bolts (small logs) for the sawmill they purchased. To keep supplied, they bought bolts from farmers and purchased the Peerless long bride at the head of the bay for the timbers, all one and 1/4 miles of it. 

For many years the company prospered as shown by the following purchases and improvements:

  • 1908--New 20x70 dry kiln with 1,500 feet of steam pipe.
  • 1909--A new addition, new roof, installed another double surfacer, built a 30x100 foot dry shed and installed a box printing plant.
  • 1911--Incorporate, with O. A. Lamoreaux as president and general manager, E. E. Kenfield as vice president and M. S. Lamoreaux as secretary. The put in an American Woods Machine of seven and one half tons which was a 6 1/2 inch Clement double surface planer, large enough to double surface a block 4 inch thick, or a 12 inch board.
  • 1912--Installed a large slasher, giving them two up to date ones.
  • 1916--Addition of a horizontal band saw and new nailing machine. A new boiler was installed along with an 88 foot smokestack.
  • In 1919 they took over the Lake Shore Lumber Company which was the name give to the old Sprague mill.

All throughout the teens the plant ran day and night, but in 1921 orders were down and the factory was closed for most of the summer.

On October 19, 1921, A. A. Lamoreaux died at his home in Duluth. At the time, the factory was back to running full time with nearly 200 employed.

In March of 1922, Chicago box and Crating took over the Kenfield & Lamoreaux properties in Washburn. This company apparently had a short history.

E. E. Kenfield died in Bemidji later in October of 1922. He had been in charge of a plant they had in that city.

Later in the 1920's the plant became the warehouse for the Excelsior Company.

Copyright 2008 Kurt Larson--Last updated April 10, 2008