The East Oakland Planing Mills was established as a general wood mill and manufacture in 1876 by partners Power and Ough, and located at 12th Street and 14th Avenue, East Oakland.

After the original building was destroyed in 1879 by a fire, new owners, Barnes and Gedge, 2 built a new two story structure. The business included planers, molding machines, a shaper, machinery for the fabrication of sashes, doors and blinds, various saws and a planer. All the equipment was powered by two boilers which powered an engine.

By 1881, it was run by Haskell, Smilie & Co. which was composed of Robert Smilie, R. K. Haskell, and E. W. Chamberlain. Haskell & Smilie had constructed the Dunn Block in 1879. Haskell & Smilie didn't last long; the Mendocino Lumber Company took over in 1882, with John P. Bandin in charge. 3

In 1883, the Tribune reported that the mill employed 22 men and produced $50,000 worth of product annually. 1

Things continued to go well for the mill until 1888. Daniel Gallagher, the junior partner, collected debts owed the company, sold the horse and cart owned by the company, and borrowed from various people, then disappeared. Gallagher apparently had a fondness for drinking and treating others, and had run up substantial debts. He left town and left his wife behind. 4,7

1890 brought some labor troubles for all the mills of the city. The mill employed 9 carpenters, 7 union and 2 non-union. The union carpenters went on strike because their rules prohibited working in an establishment that also employed non-union workers. Having already given them an 8-hour work day (vs. the normal 9), George Miller, one of the owners, said they would hire non-union workers rather than be told by their employees who they could hire. 5,8

The end came in 1891, via another fire. The mill was lost, as were several smaller businesses that leased space in the building. One was a "patent table" manufacturing business run by former mayor James E. Blethen. 6

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Links and References

  1. East Oakland Planing Mills Oakland Tribune September 29, 1883
  2. Open House at East Oakland Planing Mills Oakland Tribune May 26, 1879
  3. East Oakland Items Oakland Tribune May 18, 1882
  4. Gallagher Let Go Oakland Tribune October 2, 1888
  5. A Small Strike San Francisco Chronicle May 13, 1890
  6. A Tiny Blaze Was Seen Oakland Tribune June 2, 1891
  7. The Eastern Shore Daily Alta California October 2, 1888
  8. The Eight-Hour Strike Daily Alta California May 3, 1890