Pine Tree Lumber Company was established in Little Falls in 1890. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River in central Minnesota, the company was run by Charles Weyerhaeuser and Richard “Drew” Musser. Little Falls was chosen as the location for this new mill because of its proximity to the Mississippi River. The dam created a large boom area where the logs could be stored and sorted, and the Northern Pacific Railroad passed through town which made transporting lumber convenient.
An existing mill was purchased by the partners on the east side of the river, and a larger facility with cutting-edge equipment was built on the west bank. Commercial operations began at Pine Tree Lumber on May 18, 1891. In this new venture, Weyerhaeuser was put in charge of the logs and the mill while Musser managed sales and bookkeeping. The mill employed several hundred men and doubled the population of Little Falls less than ten years.
An office building for the operation was built in 1891 on the east bank of the Mississippi, just south of the railroad bridge. The rectangular brick building features a hipped roof with eyebrow dormers that allow light into the attic where Musser is said to have held exercise classes for his employees. The first floor contained offices and meeting space. Living quarters for Weyerhaeuser and Musser were located on the second level of the building.
After reaching its peak production of 76 million board feet in 1902, output began to fall. The massive stands of timber in northern Minnesota were being exhausted and transporting the logs to Little Falls had become increasingly difficult. In 1919, the Pine Tree Lumber Company mills made their last run. Over its 27 years in business, the mills produced more than 1.5 billion board feet of lumber.
The Pine Tree Lumber Company office building is the last remaining structure associated with the mills. The building was converted into apartments in 1927 and remains a private residence. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
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“The Remarkable Growth of Little Falls.” Northwest Magazine. November 1892.