In 1906, the Long-Bell Lumber
Company under the leadership of Mr. R. A. Long chose a site in
southwestern Beauregard Parish and built the town of Longville, LA.
naming it after Mr. Long.
The mill was steam-driven and capable of cutting 350,000 board feet of Long-Leaf Yellow Pine lumber per ten-hour shift and was Long-Bell’s largest mill in the area.
The town built to house and care for the mill employees contained the most up-to-date commissary where everything from ice cream to caskets could be purchased, a three-story hotel, one two-story hotel, two schools, theater, barbershop, telegraph office, doctor’s office, railroad depot, office building, fire department and housing for all employees. Longville was a “closed town,” meaning there were no outside businesses, everything was owned and operated by Long-Bell.
At 5:00 pm June 3, 1921, just when things were going well (labor had increased to $2.20 per day) a fire started at one of the bearing boxes on the sawmill green chain. Long-Leaf Yellow Pine lumber is rich in rosin and burns with the fury of gasoline. In no time, the main sawmill had burned, heat from the fire melted guy wires on the smoke stacks and one came crashing down, destroying the building that housed the fire pumps. A locomotive was eventually connected to the fire pumps, allowing water under high pressure to be used to fight the fire. Despite the best efforts of the fire department and townspeople, the entire mill burned, only the town was spared.
The Long-Leaf Pine forests had nearly been “cut over” by 1921 and a decision was made to move the pine timber to other Long-Bell mills in the area and rebuilding the Longville sawmill was not in the best interests of the company. In 1922, Long- Bell built a hardwood flooring plant at Longville to take advantage of the oak, hickory and other hardwoods remaining on their lands. This mill operated until 1929. The majority of the town and remaining buildings were then sold for the lumber that they contained.
Mr. Long’s legacy continues, unlike other sawmill towns in Louisiana that returned to the briar patch and undergrowth, Longville retained a spark –- a population that refused to let the town die. Although only the church, a few company homes and the mill pond are all that remains of Longville’s original grand past –- the town still survives.
Longville is located on US Highway 171 approximately 40 miles north of Lake Charles, LA. The mill pond is now a recreational site and is completely surrounded by single family homes.