The story of Port Blakely Companies began in 1864 when Nova Scotia sea captain William Renton opened a sawmill at Port Blakely Harbor on Bainbridge Island, Washington. The sheltered harbor and deep water made it an ideal location to mill and ship lumber.
Over the next four decades, the Port Blakely Mill Company flourished, becoming the world's largest sawmill under one roof. At its peak, the mill shipped lumber to California, Australia, England, Germany, France, South America, and the eastern United States.
The Family Tradition Begins
In 1903, the mill and surrounding timberland was purchased by Ned Skinner and John W. Eddy who formed the Skinner & Eddy Shipbuilding Company. In 1923, the partners divided their holdings; Skinner took the shipbuilding company, and the Eddy family retained the sawmill and timberland.
After leasing out the mill for several years, the Eddy family closed it and concentrated on acquiring and managing forestland. That decision began a family tradition of stewardship and innovation that continues to this day.
For example, 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.
Throughout the 20th century, Port Blakely focused on intensive forest management, planting seedlings by hand and carefully balancing harvest and growth rates. The practice of thinning trees several times over the decades left only the highest quality and largest trees for harvest. In addition, Port Blakely's harvest cycles are longer than the industry average.
Over the years, the family expanded its timber holdings throughout Western Washington and Oregon. In 1986, the Port Blakely Mill Company became Port Blakely Tree Farms, L.P., and in 1993, Port Blakely Tree Farms formed Blakely Pacific Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary in New Zealand.
Over the last 140 years, Port Blakely Tree Farms and its predecessor have seen many changes. But one thing will never change—our commitment to the company's values: integrity, quality, innovation, and stewardship.