It all started in the year 1899. Lewis Miller sent his trusted servant Alex McCombie to survey the pine stands and obtain the necessary information regarding the acreage needed for two mills if reports were deemed favorable. History was made upon McCombie’s return and Lewis Miller’s departure and travel to Millertown, where he established his sawmills in 1900. A portable mill was set up in order to enable the first settlers to take up residence. After construction began on the railway and the first trees were cut, things started to take form. The original town contained only 55 houses, one office, one doctor and four stores which sold provisions to the new settlers. Two sawmills were built along with stables, outhouses and sheds. By 1901, there were approximately 45 Swedish and Norwegian families living in the town, as well as around 100 Newfoundland men. Soon after, Miller undertook the task of building a church for his workers. Subsequently, Millertown’s first school was opened in 1901, with 31 pupils enrolled. I.N Kendall was brought in from Ottawa to draw the plans and erect the mills. Kendall was one of the best known mill men in the world at the time and the two mills in Millertown were modeled after the finest mills in Canada. Another interesting fact to note would be that Miller paid his employees in cash, an almost unknown practice in Newfoundland at that time. Pay was usually administered in trade, exchanging goods and services for food and other staples. Despite some setbacks and challenges encountered over wages and initially a bad sawing season, Miller prevailed. However, in 1903 the operation changed hands as one Harry Judson Crowe purchased all of Miller’s holdings in Millertown. From 1903 to 1905 Crowe continued to operate the mill until he sold all his timber and other interests to the Anglo-Newfoundland Development (A.N.D.) Company. By 1908-1909 there were more then 30 lumber camps situated around Red Indian Lake. The first record of cutting by the A.N.D. Company amounted to 82000 cords of wood. The A.N.D. Company operated in Newfoundland for 55 years in which time great advancements were made in the logging industry.
Hard times were endured by the men who served in lumber camps in the early twentieth century. Loggers had to work long shifts that started at dawn and ended at dusk. They spend up to six or seven months away from home. They lived in primitively constructed, poorly insulated bunkhouses with bunks consisting of fir or spruce boughs. The only source of heat inside the bunkhouses was oil drums fashioned as makeshift stoves where men would hang their clothing to dry. They also had to contend with unsanitary conditions, lice, and a repetitive diet consisting mostly of baked beans and salt beef. It is known that apart from that, they had to endure cold washing water to clean themselves with and had to wash their laundry by hand in a nearby brook or stream. There could have been up to 50 men in a bunkhouse, with only one crudely constructed outhouse servicing all who lived within. In wintertime these were especially cold.
The work was highly labor intensive and oriented towards only the youngest and strongest men. All work was manual, with little mechanical assistance until the 1930’s. Prior to then the only assistance was horsepower. Transportation back then manifested itself in the form of river travel, by boat up the Red Indian Lake. Later, loggers would arrive by train and by truck when a motor road system was established in the area.