SAUK RAPIDS -- The lumbering business was a vital part of the early days in Benton County.

Mary Ostby is the Executive Director of the Benton County Historical Society. She says logging was just as big of an industry as granite for the early settlers.

The Foley brothers were a national business.  There were four Foley brothers: Timothy, Thomas, Michael and John.  John stayed in Foley and he built the lumbering company out there.  Their basis for building the company was to get wood out to build railroad bridges at first.

Ostby says the area was rich with big oak, maple and elm trees. However, the height of the local lumbering business only lasted until about 1900.

Benton County Historical Society

So that's where Sauk Rapids lumbering caters in because you see that grow because they have the river.  So the local mills contracted with people from up north to send the lumber down the river, and so Neil's Mill was on the north side of the old Sauk Rapids bridge.

Benton County Historical Society

Ostby says it was always the intention to clear the land in Benton County and turn it into farmland.

Benton County Historical Society

Once a month Ostby is a guest on the News @ Noon Show talking about the history of Benton County.

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