Our Story

The Story of Renewability Has no End

The story of Port Blakely is one of ingenuity, determination, and renewal. It is a story whose end is a better tomorrow, a tomorrow that can be made more sustainable by the forestlands we take care of and renewable forest products we provide today.

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1852

In 1852, Nova Scotia sea captain William Renton arrived in Puget Sound. Seeing the region's calm waters, he realized the area's potential for marketing timber from the surrounding forests.

He first built a small sawmill on Alki Point, but the wind and waves forced him to try a more sheltered location near Bremerton. This location also failed, as it was too difficult for ships to get through the tidal currents of Rich Passage.

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1864

In 1864, Captain Renton purchased land around Port Blakely Harbor on Bainbridge Island. Here ships could easily pass, and the sheltered waters allowed for storing log rafts to supply the mill.

During the next four decades, the Port Blakely Mill flourished, at one point becoming the world's largest sawmill under one roof. Its lumber was shipped to California, Australia, Europe, South America and the Eastern U.S.

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1874

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).

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1882

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.

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1888

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 ships in the harbor by hauling the vessels out into the Sound.

Captain Renton built a new mill in the same spot 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.

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1903

In 1902, two young men from Bay City, Michigan, came 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.

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1907

In April 1907, a devastating fire destroyed the mill a second time. The Port Blakely mill was once again rebuilt.

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1923

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 forestlands. The Eddy family leased the mill for several years before closing it to concentrate on timber investments.

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1925

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.

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1946

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.

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1962

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.

History 1962
1986

In 1986, the company completed its conversion from the Port Blakely Mill Company, a corporation, to Port Blakely Tree Farms, a Washington Limited Partnership.

History 1986
1990

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.

History 1990
1993

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.

History 1993
2003

The Port Blakely Companies, consisting of Port Blakely Tree Farms in Washington and Oregon, Blakely Pacific, Ltd., in New Zealand, and Port Blakely Communities in Washington, united 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 established a governance system to ensure that their goal of sustainability could be met for generations to come.

History 2003
2005

Port Blakely Companies acquired the 73-year-old export log-trading firm, Pacific Lumber & Shipping, LLC, creating a strategic alliance that enhanced Port Blakely Tree Farms’ international marketing efforts. It also provided an additional tool in meeting the needs of an expanding customer base.

History 2005
2010

Port Blakely Companies completed 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.

History 2010
2016

Port Blakely redefined its vision for the future and unified as one company. To outwardly express this commitment, the company created a new look and feel for its brand. Port Blakely’s three divisions were unified with new names: Port Blakely Tree Farms became US Forestry, Blakely Pacific became NZ Forestry, and Pacific Lumber & Shipping became PLS International.

History 2016