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In 1901, at age 21, Charles Colin Patrick left (or maybe was asked to leave—the record is unclear) school at Amherst College in Massachusetts and returned to his home in Des Moines, Iowa. After college, he worked at a foundry in Des Moines, then as branch manager out of Sioux City, Iowa, covering the close in NW Iowa, SW Minnesota and SE Dakota territory.

He decided he would go to Oregon to find his fortune and in 1904, he finally made it there, visiting his cousin, Winnie Hofer, in Salem, Oregon. Like many young men at the time, when he first arrived in Oregon, Charlie worked in saw mills and logging camps.

By late 1904 he had landed at Tongue Point Lumber Company in Astoria, Oregon, at the mouth of the Columbia River.  This brand new mill was touted by The Pacific Monthly as the “finest lumber mill in the world.” The periodical reported that the mill had been built at a cost “exceeding $250,000” and that it had a production capacity of “140,000 feet in 10 hours, 250,000 feet per day.” The mill produced a wide range of products, mostly from spruce and Douglas fir, including timbers up to 24×24 and 90 feet long, requiring multiple rail cars to ship each one. Other interesting items on the price list included fir well tubing, spruce wagon box sets, fir windmill stock, and dozens of standard moulded items such as newels, pickets, porch decking, siding and wainscoting. It was 25-year-old Charlie’s job to sell that production.

Cousin Winnie’s husband, Col. Ernst Hofer was editor-in-chief of the Salem Capital Journal (one of the papers that merged to form today’s Salem Statesman Journal) and as such had many business connections. The Colonel encouraged young Charlie to leave the wood business and enter the banking industry. C.C. did so, accepting a job as cashier of First State Bank in Independence, Oregon. He worked there from 1907-1910, eventually becoming the branch manager. Ultimately, though, the banking venture didn’t work out (a likely contributor to C.C.’s abiding dislike of the banking industry the rest of his life.) and by 1910 he was back in the lumber business, handling sales for Bridal Veil Lumber Company, 25 miles east of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge.

Like dozens of other towns in the West during this time period, Bridal Veil was mill town, established by the Bridal Veil Falls Lumbering Company as a place to house loggers and mill workers. The rough mill was situated about a mile above town on Larch Mountain, near the logging town of Palmer. A mile-and-a-half-long log flume was built to transport the rough-cut lumber down the hillside to the finishing mill and kilns in Bridal Veil. More than a few daring loggers and mill men would wrap up a 55-hour work week with a ride down the flume to the town below where they could catch a Saturday noon train into Portland.


By 1911, C.C. had followed his buddy Ed Hazen into Portland where he continued to sell directly for Bridal Veil Lumber right up until the mill entered into a sales co-op agreement with a number of other Oregon mills, forming the Douglas Fir Sales Co. C.C. transitioned smoothly into the role of Sales Manager at DFSC, essentially keeping the same job, but simply working for a different employer. 1911 was a time of low prices and weak demand for the lumber industry and the mills thought it wise to consolidate sales efforts rather than fighting with one another for what few sales existed. C.C. and the other salesmen would generate orders and allocate them out to the various mills in the co-op. The original list of mills for which DFSC did the selling was:

Portland Lumber Co.
Bridal Veil Lumbering Co.
Hammond Lumber Co. (two plants—Astoria (the former Tongue Point Lumber Company) and Mill City)
Sheridan Timber Co.
Peninsula Lumber Co.
Booth-Kelly Lumber Co.
West Side Lumber & Shingle Co.
Clark & Wilson Lumber Co.
Silverton Lumber Co.
Dallas Lumber & Logging Co.
Falls City Lumber Co.
Chas. K. Spaulding Logging Co.
Wind River Lumber Co.

A similar sales co-op, called Pacific Sales Agency, based in Aberdeen, Washington, represented the larger mills in Washington (excluding Weyerhaeuser). Between them, these two companies sold a large share of the Pacific Northwest’s lumber production during the 1912-1914 timeframe.

Chicago-based Pullman Car Co. was big user of mostly clear Douglas fir and hemlock lumber from the Northwest.  Pullman designed, manufactured and operated rail cars, including a line of ornately decorated sleeping cars known as Pullman Palace Cars and they needed large quantities of lumber to keep up with the demand. Rail travel was in its hey day and the Pullman Company would regularly place huge annual orders for up to 40 million feet at a time. One year the Douglas Fir Sales Co. would be the low bidder and the next year it would be Pacific Sales Agency. This cozy arrangement came to the attention of the newly established Federal Trade Commission and the FTC threatened suit for violation of anti-trust rules related to price-fixing. As a result, by the end of 1914 the two sales agencies were disbanded. Years later, Charlie Patrick remarked that their demise was imminent anyway because the member mills were becoming dissatisfied with how orders were being allocated, each thinking favoritism was shown to another.

Of course, that was only the beginning for Charlie’s next big venture.