R. A. Long’s Lumberyards
by Tim Sullivan
(President of R. A. Long Historical Society 2006 to 2014)

          Going back to my late teens and my interest in Mr. Long and how his lumber business started, I have always wanted to follow his steps and visit the first towns where Mr. Long set up his lumberyards.  This past 4th of July, I did just that.  But I did it backwards.  After visiting family in Marietta, Oklahoma I started fulfilling my dream/goal.

Long Bell Lumber Company, Altus, Oklahoma - Circa 1880

Long Bell Lumber Company
Altus, Oklahoma
Circa 1880

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for enlarged view.

          I drove east to Antlers, Oklahoma.  Antlers is a very big part of the Long-Bell past and was the very first location where Mr. Long started cutting and sawing his own logs.  This was around 1890.  Up till then Mr. Long brought cut lumber from mills back east.  Antlers is still a very small town, so by closing my eyes I could hear the portable saw mill cutting Long-Bell logs (pretty cool).  Driving north we passed through Fort Smith, Arkansas, where Long-Bell had a very large yard.  I drove through Muskogee, Wagoner and Pryor where after 1900, all had Long-Bell yards.  But our journey was just starting.

          When I got to Vinita I could still see the Yard Master loading cut lumber on a wagon with a team of horses or mules.  Centralia, Coffeyville, Independence, Cherryvale (where my grandparents are buried), Sedan, Altamont, Oswego, then over to Columbus, all these towns are still very small, so it was very easy to go into my imagination and picture the excitement of those days, not only for Long-Bell, but for history itself.  It was the time when the West was being opened to settlers and how hard work, dreams, and many hardships helped form how our great country was built.