Sawmill production peaked in Clay County in the 1880’s. By 1927, there were just eight mills, and by 1937, only two were left. (FL Commissioner of Agriculture: Florida, An Advancing State, 1907-1917-1927, pg 29.)
Timber required mechanical processing. During British and Spanish colonial times, many land grants were awarded in areas where streams of sufficient flow could service cutting and grinding operations. Later, operators took advantage of steam power and eventually mills were converted to electricity. At the peak of this industry, dozens, possibly more than one hundred, of mills dotted Clay County. Here we highlight the information gathered about each location.
Logs were transported to the mills by either floating them down a creek or by railroad. Several short line railroads came and went as the timber cutters moved around the County. Many sawmills were destroyed by hostile activities by 1865.