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Hardin County TX
Hardin County

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VILLAGE MILLS, TEXAS
AKA Long Station,Texas

Hardin County, East Texas

30 29' 38" N, 94 23' 51" W (30.493889, -94.3975)
Intersection of U.S. Highway 69/287 and Farm Road 3063
42 miles N of Beaumont
Population: 1,700 (2000) 300 (1990)

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History

By Clint Skinner

Located in the northern part of Hardin County, the unincorporated town of Village Mills sits on Highway 287 between Wildwood to the northwest and Big Thicket National Preserve to the southeast with Beaumont to the south. Sometime during the last two months of 1881, the Sabine and East Texas Railroad finished construction of a pathway through the area. The first settlers soon arrived and named their new home after a nearby stream of water called Village Creek. The Long Manufacturing Company of Beaumont bought 40,000 acres of forested land and established a saw mill. However, the Texas Tram and Lumber Company of Beaumont, owned by majority stockholder William A. Fletcher, purchased the mill in 1883. That same year saw the grand opening of the town's post office.

By 1889, the local mill was sawing through a staggering 75,000 feet of lumber every day. The workers then took the wood and loaded it on a private tram, which consisted of a locomotive and sixteen cars. The saw mill area was so large, it took up the space of two towns. The work facilities took up the northern section and claimed the town of Long Station while the workers inhabited the southern section in the town of Village Mills. Although they were considered seperate entities, those living in the county collectively called the two towns Village Mills.

In 1890, the town had a restaurant, a train depot, a hotel, churches, schools, and a building for a fraternity called the Order of Chosen Friends. It also boasted a population of 800, making it the largest town of Hardin County. The citizens of Village Mills witnessed a world record getting broken in 1895 when its mill was able to saw through 255,403 feet of lumber in eleven hours using a singular blade. At the end of 1901, the mill had provided an annual production of seventeen million feet of wood. The following year, the Kirby Lumber Company bought the facilities and the surrounding acreage for $60,000. Owner John Henry Kirby renamed the place Mill L and appointed B. H. Rice to be the supervisor. The business continued to prosper through the years as the plant continued going through timber at rates reaching as high as sixteen million feet a year.

All the prosperity came crashing down when the stock market plummeted and brought the nation into the Great Depression. The demand for lumber decreased at an incredible rate. To make matters, the timber resources started drying out. In 1931, these two factors proved too much for the mill and it was forced to close. Two years later, the facilities were destroyed. The post office moved to Long Station in 1938 but kept the name of Village Mills. By the 1940s, the population had dropped to 80.

The discovery of oil and natural gas deposits boosted the town's economy in 1945, ultimately resulting in the construction of 31 wells. Toward the end of the 1960s, Long Station became a part of Village Mills. By 1984, the number of operating wells had decreased to seventeen. The population reached 300 in 1990 and increased to 1,700 a decade later.
© Clint Skinner
November 11, 2019
Bibliography

  • Block, W. T. "Village Mills Hangs Tough After Heydey". Beaumont Enterprise. January 12, 2005.
  • Tshaonline.org
  • Wikipedia.org

  •  Hardin County TX 1907 Postal Map
    Hardin County 1907 postal map showing Village Mills
    near Tyler County line
    From Texas state map #2090
    Courtesy Texas General Land Office

    Take a road trip

    Village Mills, Texas Nearby Towns:
    Kountze the county seat
    Beaumont
    Saratoga
    See
    Hardin County
    Tyler County

    More East Texas


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