Sawmill Day 1990


| March/April 1991



3251 S. Pine Barren Road McDavid, Florida 32568.

May 5, 1990 brought the first annual Sawmill Day in Century, Florida. The festival was created to bring attention to this town's sawmill heritage and to raise money for the Alger-Sullivan Historical Society's restoration projects. We wanted a wide variety of exhibits and my preoccupation with old machines led to the gas engine exhibit. It seems there was plenty working against us since this was a first year show, bad weather threatened, and we scheduled for the same day as the Houston, Mississippi show. Still, we had about 15 engines on display, some from 200 miles away. Free camping was offered to exhibitors and vendors. Admission to the public was free, too.

The weather in Century turned out fine and the thousands of people who showed up had a great time. I prefer public shows to the ones frequented only by fellow collectors, because of the fun of watching the young folks discovering these old putt-putts, and of listening to the old-timers tell of engines they used to have.

In addition to the stand-alone engines, we had Vaughan and Ottawa drag saws, a pumpjack, and a gristmill to give folks an idea of how these machines were used. An Economy (Stover CT-2K variant) was shown partially restored, to contrast the way an engine can look when restored, and the way it was found in a farmer's front yard.

Steam fans take note that the Alger-Sullivan Lumber Company mill was once operated by a huge Corliss engine. Company records reported the hundreds of cowhides required to make the belt. After electrification, steam turbines provided power for mill and town. The mill also operated a steam railroad until the late 50's.

We now own an original wooden Alger box car, which should be on display next year. All we have to do is lay some track, pick up the car and haul it 60 miles, and put it on our track! Simple! We managed to get a hold of an original Alger R.R. whistle (a Buckeye), and were able to get off an occasional blast using an electric air compressor and a big tank. We have since acquired an old Wisconsin V-4 powered Schramm compressor to do a better job. The mill's whistle left town before the Historical Society was formed and the trail for the original has grown cold. We hope to find someone who will loan or donate a large whistle for our festivities.