Thursday, November 1, 2012

J.Neils Lumber Company Libby MT.

A View From the Claybanks

The lumber mill, town and Cabinet Mountains in the distance.

A different angle with the clay banks in the background.

Finish Lumber

A view from where the golf course is now, up Shaunassy Hill.

Bucking a tree the hard way.

J.Neils #6 coming in with logs cars from the Great Northern "Libby Logger" The GN had a siding up river at Warland where the logs were loaded at the siding, then brought down by the GN into town.

J.Neils # 6 in retirement.

#6 at the log pond.

Logging Trucks dumping into the log pond, no doubt the logging rails were pulled up by now and the ROW turned into the "Haul Road", which goes North up the Kootenai River.  

Rail Cars being unloaded into the log pond.

McGiffert Log Loader.

Great Northern Empire Builder at the Libby station.

GN train rolling in just north of the Libby Station. The J Neils mill is to the right of the tracks. (St. Regis in this time frame)

Train crossing the bridge over Libby Creek.

Just above and to the right of this picture is the mill bridge that was used by logging trucks to go up Pipe Creek, the bridge originally carried log trains across the Kootenai River.

A classic picture of back when the sn-1643 sat on East Spruce Street just outside the main gate to the mill in Libby. 
The gentlemen in the picture are all tied to this locomotive, the person sixth from the left is my great grandfather, and the fourth from the left is his son, and my grandfather, both engineers and fireman in their careers at J.Neils.

The classic J. Neils Lumber Company view as I remember it when I was very young, although this picture is most likely (according to my father, taken sometime in the late 1950's. My father also worked in the pole yard on the narrow gauge railroad before it closed. It was in the area of the large orange crane right of center. This crane toppled over in an accident in the mid 1960's and was scrapped.

This is dedicated to the hundreds of people who worked for J.Neils and later St.Regis Lumber Company. It was a great time in Libby's history. Because these two companies understood the need to replenish the forest once they harvested. They were implementing good forest management long before it came in "vogue". Unfortunately, for many reasons, the mill is gone, and the town struggles to survive. Those jobs all went to Canada. 


  1. Mike Haney - Weddington, NCJune 29, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    My great grandfather William Olsheski was the yard foreman back in the early to mid 1900's. Originally from Germany, he came to Libby from Sauk Rapids with the Neils family. He actually lived in a home at the rear of the yard near Libby Creek until 1970.

  2. These old photos are great! Can you tell me anything about the 1st one (a view from the claybanks)? It looks like there is something written on the bottom left corner but I can’t read any of it. Do you know which museum has it?

    1. The 1st photo looks like from the clay banks, looking west at Libby and the mill, with Treasure mountain, Scenery mountain, Indian Head mountain, and Dome mountain covered by Clouds

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  4. I work at the finger jointer and it sure looks different now.

    1. Duke-Good to hear from you. I remember when the finger jointer was first introduced, the filmed a commercial in the (at the time) field across the hwy from the Venture Inn, I believe the bowling alley is there now. They plucked a Ponderosa Pine from the woulds and "replanted it in the field. The they made a 2 x 4 about 200 foeet long using the finger joined. The had men on both sides of this 2 x 4, the center of it against the tree trunk, and purposly broke the 2 x 4 in half proving that the finger joint was stronger than the actual wood. Thanks for the memory!