The smokestack in Onalaska is the last remaining structure of the Carlisle Lumber Company that was built in 1909, standing near what is known today as Carlisle Lake.
The company began in 1886 in Kansas and expanded into Arkansas, later coming to the Northwest and founding what the Chehalis Bee-Nugget in 1926 called “the world’s largest inland sawmill." The Carlisle Lumber company was one of the most successful mid-sized saw mills in Washington State and, at its peak in 1929, company inventory numbered over 20 million board feet of lumber — enough to stretch all the way to the Panama Canal.
Unfortunately due to the Great Depression and the family’s business decisions, the company temporarily closed in 1935 due to worker strikes and started operations again in 1938. Eventually, they closed permanently in 1942 when the Carlisle family went broke.
The buildings and equipment were sold off to raise capital and the mill burned to the ground when a worker’s cutting torch caught one of the buildings on fire. The current smokestack is the only remaining structure highlighting the once impressive inland saw mill that built the town of Onalaska.
To get to the smokestack, simply take State Route 508 to Onalaska and turn left on Alexander Road. Soon it'll be right in front of you.
Photo courtesy of the Lewis County Historical Museum