Missoula’s long history with lumber mills, wood products takes last gasp

On the morning of March 14, there were two large wood products businesses operating in Missoula County, the last remaining vestiges of a timber processing industry that powered the region’s economy for a century and a half.

Within the span of six days, both Pyramid Mountain Lumber in Seeley Lake and Roseburg Forest Products’ Missoula particleboard plant had announced they were shutting down permanently and eliminating a combined 250 jobs.

The closures mark the final knockout punch locally to an industry that helped build Missoula and put food on tables here for over 150 years.

The settlement of the Hellgate Trading Post was renamed Missoula Mills in 1866 due to the importance of logging and the mills in what is now Bonner and Milltown.

Tipi burners were once common in the Missoula Valley, large metal structures belching smoke that were used to burn the waste from mills.

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Cut logs cover the Blackfoot River behind a holding dam at the Bonner sawmill facility in this undated photo looking northeast across the Clark Fork River. When Milltown Dam was

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