by: Bill Riales,
Posted: Nov 17, 2022,
BREWTON, Ala. (WKRG) — Brewton was incorporated in 1885. Years before that, Thomas R. Miller established a sawmill there that set the stage for a boom in Brewton. Since then, timber has been king.
“Money grows on trees and in trees, and if it wasn’t for trees Brewton wouldn’t exist,” says Pat Reeves. Reeves has worked in the timber industry in and around Brewton for 46 years. And when you listen to him tell it, it all makes sense how timber made the City of Brewton, from the time the TR Miller sawmill company was established.
“The sawmill got its name in 1872,” said Reeves. “There was even a smaller sawmill way before that. The papermill came to town in the mid-50s.”
The area was just in the right place at the right time. A confluence of waterways along with a multitude of forest lands cluttered with millions of trees put Brewton on the map. These days standing just about anywhere in the city you can smell fresh-cut timber.
These days modern timber operations use modern equipment to saw logs and shape wood. But over the years it’s taken labor from a lot of people to make the industry work. It’s those people who also create communities.
Reeves said, “When you have all the people working there then you have to have support industries, you got to have churches, you’ve got to have court houses, you’ve got to have clothes shops, and it all comes from timber.”
And you’ve also got to have schools. The timber is where the term ‘severance tax’ came from.
“Every time a tree is severed there’s a tax paid, and that money is called severance tax and it goes to local schools,” said Reeves.
According to the Alabama Forestry Commission, there are 23 million acres of timberland in the state. The industry generates more than $21 billion dollars in revenue and provides more than 122 thousand jobs.