Industrial-Scale Logging: An Environmental Disaster
Tens of thousands of acres of Rabun County were clear-cut during the first decades of the twentieth century. Logging companies purchased land from poor mountain farmers for $1-$2 per acre. These companies built narrow gauge railways into mountain hollows, blasting out entire hillsides to gain access to remote forests. Splash dams were built across mountain streams to build up water to a level sufficient for carrying hundreds of cut trees. When these temporary dams were dynamited, enormous floods swept the trees down the mountain, causing enormous environmental damage. The Byrd-Matthews sawmill was the largest east of the Mississippi, cutting 70,000 board-feet or 13 miles of timber every day. Once most usable trees had been clear-cut, industrial-scale logging ceased by the early 1930s.
Visit our Logging Exhibit
Want to learn more about logging in Rabun County? Visit our Museum to view this exhibit and many others that tell the stories that shaped Rabun’s history.