Tacoma to honor mill history with head saw restoration

Tacoma was once considered one of the largest lumber cities in the world. Now, an iconic 30 foot tall headsaw will return to Rushon Way, where Tacoma's lumber history got its start.

Tacoma was once considered one of the largest lumber cites in the world. Now, an iconic 30-foot tall head saw from the Dickman Saw Mill will return to Ruston Way. 

For years, Metro Parks in Tacoma has been trying to expand Dickman Mill Park and restore the old head saw to tell a better by story of what used to be here.

"I think once we lose some piece of history it's sad for everyone, and then it gets forgotten," said Andrea Smith, Metro Parks board president.

Cambia Health Solutions, a health insurance company that started in Tacoma, donated $2.9 million to Metro Parks to help restore the head saw and expand the park.

"it lets Tacomans know that lumber was a very important part of our history and it honors our legacy," said Smith.

The Dickman Saw Mill was run by Bud Dickman. His father purchased the mill in 1922, and his son Skip Dickman worked at the mill until it closed in 1977. It ran for 55 years under the Dickman name.

"I started out young. I think I was 14 when I started out on the mill shoveling sawdust. I was fortunate to work with my dad and my grandfather,” said Skip Dickman. “It was unbelievable the amount of mills that were here at one time. I think [there were] 10 to 12 saw mills around."

The head saw from the mill is now broken up into pieces at the maintenance yard in Tacoma. Metro Parks is looking for someone to help restore the head saw.

For Dickman, it means as the waterfront grows and develops future generations will know what stood there.

"It’s just preserved and kind of just anchors what's going on the last 100 years here,” he said. “It's just neat to be able to keep the history here." 

Photos: Dickman Saw Mill then and now

© 2017 KING-TV


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