The Port Blakely story spans more than 150 years, and reflects the spirit and vision of the early settlers in the Pacific Northwest.
Nova Scotia sea captain William Renton arrives in Puget Sound and mounts two failed attempts to build a sawmill.
In 1852, Nova Scotia sea captain William Renton arrived in Puget Sound with some of the first settlers. Seeing the region's calm waters, he realized the area's potential for marketing wood products from the surrounding forests.
In his first attempt, he built a small sawmill on Alki Point, but the point's exposure to wind and waves forced him to try a more sheltered location at Enetai, near Bremerton. This location failed as well, because it was too difficult for sailing ships to get through the tidal currents of Rich Passage.
Captain Renton purchases land on Bainbridge Island and founds the Port Blakely Mill Company.
In 1864, Captain Renton purchased land around Port Blakely Harbor on the southeast side of Bainbridge Island. Here sailing ships could easily come and go, and the sheltered waters were perfect for storing large log rafts to supply the mill.
During the next four decades, the Port Blakely Mill Company flourished, at one point becoming the world's largest sawmill under one roof. Its lumber was shipped all over the world, to California, Australia, England, Germany, France, South America and the eastern United States.
Captain Renton takes on new partners, starts a stagecoach line, builds the Bainbridge Hotel, and upgrades the mill.
Despite an economic downturn, the Port Blakely Mill Company had sales of $1.5 million in 1874. During the 1870s, Renton reorganized his company, brought in new partners, built the 75-room Bainbridge Hotel, established a daily stage between Port Blakely and Port Madison, and experimented with ways to improve heating and lighting at the mill (dogfish oil lamps had been the traditional source of light; electric lights were installed in 1882).
The Port Blakely Mill Company builds a railroad to haul huge logs from Mason County.
In 1882, the Port Blakely mill could turn out 200,000 board feet a day, the largest of any sawmill on the Pacific Coast. But keeping the sawmill supplied with logs was a challenge. To take advantage of the huge trees growing far to the southeast in Mason County, the company built a railroad in the county known as the Blakely Line to haul logs from the forest to salt water at Kamilche Point on southern Puget Sound. There, the logs were assembled into rafts and towed to Port Blakely by the mill company's steam tugs.
The Port Blakely mill is destroyed by fire. Renton rebuilds and installs a sprinkler system.
On February 4, 1888, a devastating fire burned the Port Blakely mill to the ground. Because the winds were blowing onshore, rescuers were able to save shipping in the harbor by hauling the vessels out into the Sound.
Captain Renton built a new mill in the same spot as the old using less-combustible materials such as heavy timbers and corrugated iron roofing. In addition, he installed a system of water pipes and 850 sprinkler heads.
The Port Blakely Mill Company is purchased by Ned Skinner and Jack Eddy.
In 1902, two young men from Bay City, Michigan, came out west looking for sawmill opportunities. In 1903, Ned Skinner and John W. Eddy purchased all the assets of the Port Blakely Mill Company. They worked as a team on many ventures in the Northwest before and during World War I, including the Skinner & Eddy Shipbuilding Company.
The Port Blakely mill is destroyed by fire a second time.
In April 1907, a devastating fire destroyed the mill a second time. The Port Blakely mill was once again rebuilt.
Skinner and Eddy dissolve their partnership. The Eddy family retains the mill and the forestland.
Skinner and Eddy dissolved their partnership and divided their assets. Ned Skinner took the Skinner & Eddy Company, while brothers John, James, and Robert Eddy and family took the Port Blakely Mill Company and the surrounding forestland. The Eddy family leased the mill for several years before closing it to concentrate on timber investments.
As part of his research into forest management, James G. Eddy founds what today is known as the Institute of Forest Genetics in Northern California.
As part of his research into ways to improve reforestation, James G. Eddy founded what is now known as the Institute of Forest Genetics in Northern California.
The Eddy family expands its investment in forestland and implements intensive forest management on a sustained-yield basis.
By the end of World War II, the development of good roads, large bulldozers, and radio dispatching had greatly reduced the risk of forest fires. These improvements made it feasible to make long-term investments in growing timber from seedlings to maturity. The family began an ongoing program of acquiring prime forestlands and practicing intensive forest management on a sustainable-yield basis.
The Port Blakely Mill Company creates a real estate subsidiary called Renton Village Company.
In 1962, the company created a real estate subsidiary, which managed Renton Village Company, a commercial real estate partnership in conjunction with a real estate subsidiary of Puget Sound Power & Light Company. This first Port Blakely real estate venture ended in 1987.
The Port Blakely Mill Company becomes Port Blakely Tree Farms.
In 1986, the company completed its conversion from the Port Blakely Mill Company, a corporation, to Port Blakely Tree Farms, a Washington Limited Partnership.
Port Blakely Companies creates a new real estate subsidiary called Port Blakely Communities.
In 1990, Port Blakely Companies launched a new real estate venture called Port Blakely Communities to create innovative urban villages that combine a classic sense of community with the concepts of smart growth.
Port Blakely Companies creates Blakely Pacific, Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary that manages working forests in New Zealand.
Port Blakely Companies created its first international subsidiary in 1993 with the founding of Blakely Pacific, Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary that owns and manages working forests in New Zealand.
One hundred years of Eddy ownership.
The Port Blakely Companies, consisting of Port Blakely Tree Farms in Washington and Oregon, Blakely Pacific Limited in New Zealand, and Port Blakely Communities in Washington, unite their strategies and combine their reputations under a common brand to continue the tradition of integrity, quality, innovation, and stewardship—all in concert with the Eddy family, which has set up its own governance systems to ensure that their goal of sustainability can be met for generations to come.
Port Blakely Companies expands with the acquisition of Pacific Lumber & Shipping, LLC.
Port Blakely Companies acquire the 73-year-old export log-trading firm, Pacific Lumber & Shipping, LLC, creating a strategic alliance that enhances Port Blakely Tree Farms’ international marketing effort, and provides an additional tool in meeting the needs of an expanding customer base.
Port Blakely passes leadership to the fourth generation.
Port Blakely Companies completes a multi-year and multi-divisional succession plan with the transition of leadership from third-generation Chairman and CEO Jim Warjone to fourth-generation CEO René Ancinas.