Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sixteenth Street Canal

We recently came across this photomechanical reproduction from 1898 that shows the milling operations of the New Orleans Cypress and Lumber Company, formerly the McEwen and Murray Sawmill. The operation was located in the square bounded by Cambronne and Dante Streets, the new basin and the Sixteenth-Street Canal. In November 1897, one of the McEwen dry kilns containing 5000 feet of lumber was destroyed by fire. The McEwen mill was owned by the New Orleans Cypress and Lumber Company and began operating under the owner's moniker by 1898.

In February of that year, the plant sustained significant tornado damage. The roof of the machinery room was completely blown away, exposing the engines to the elements. Other surrounding structures also sustained damages. Mount Olive Baptist Church was completely torn apart, its timber scattered into the nearby swamp. Workers' houses adjacent to the mill were "prostrated" and twenty families were "rendered homeless."(1)

The mill sustained catastrophic damages in July 1899, when a massive lumber fire swept through the plant. Yard number 2 contained some 8,800,000 ft. of clean and undressed cypress ready for shipment. A strong southeast wind spread the fire very quickly and despite the response of six steam engines that drew water from the canal [now renamed the Seventeenth-Street Canal], the yard was lost. The owners, represented by Captain and Mrs. R.A. Scott, and F.G. Tiffany of Lacrosse, Wisconsin, filed a $150,000 claim with the Pescaud insurance agency.(2)

(1) "A Little Cyclone Sweeps the City." The Daily Picayune 20 February 1898.

(2)"A Lumber Fire." The Daily Picayune 16 July 1899.

Image above:  New Orleans Cypress and Lumber Company, Ltd. Advertisement from Official Directory of the Southern Pacific Company and Atlas of Lines for Use of Shippers and Buyers. Chicago: Lanward Publishing Company, 1897-1898. Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

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