side 1 - Lumbering on White Lake
Charles Mears built White Lake's first sawmill in 1838. Four mills operated on White River tributaries during the next decade. Axmen, swampers, skidders, loaders, and haulers cut and moved pine, hemlock, and cedar logs to the White River, where they were floated to the White River Log and Booming Company pens. There they were sorted and rafted to mills that produced lumber, shingles, lath, and pickets. In 1883, there were twenty-four mills in Whitehall and the vicinity. Lumber was rafted down the lake and carried on barges to ships in Lake Michigan. Between 1838 and 1907 White Lake mills shipped over 3 billion board feet of lumber. The lumbering era ended on White lake when the Staples and Covell Mill closed in 1907.
side 2 - Staples and Covell Mill
The first steam-powered lumber mill in Whitehall was erected on this site in 1856. Purchased in 1871 by Hiram Staples and Lyman Covell of the Staples and Covell Lumber Company, it operated until 1874. The new mill, built in 1875, was the largest and most modern on White Lake and had four saws and an 80-foot smokestack. By 1884, sixty men were earning between $1.37 and $3.50 per day at the mill and could turn 1,400 logs into 60,000 board feet of lumber during an 11-hour shift. In 1894 the mill produced
10 million board feet of lumber. Schooners, barges, scows, and trains carried the lumber to Chicago and to points east. The mill's closing in 1907 marked the end of the logging era on the White River.