Boilers, kilns and a power plant in the background at the former Rough & Ready mill outside Cave Junction are being disassembled for shipment to a mill in Washington. Scrap metal left over from the mill's operations will be hauled off and recycled, with a new owner expected at the 300-acre mill in the coming weeks. [JEFF DUEWEL/Daily Courier]

Historic lumber mill coming down

CAVE JUNCTION — The Rough & Ready Lumber mill that shut down last fall after 73 years in operation still has plenty of metal buildings and odd scrap metal lying around.

But the guts are gone, said Link Phillippi, one of the mill's owners.

Workers Wednesday dismantled the boilers, kilns and power plant that once burned wood waste for power generation and fueling dryers. They will be resurrected at a mill in northern Washington.

Contractor Ben Howell of Eugene and trucker Daryl Chrystley of Utah prepared to load a large sawdust blower onto a truck to haul to a mill in Mendocino, California.

It's all in preparation for a new owner, as a sale for the 300-acre property is in escrow, said Link and his wife, Jennifer.

The Phillippis have a nondisclosure agreement about the prospective owner, but Link did say the new business will make the neighbors happy.

And it won't be a marijuana processing plant, he said, referring to rumors that have been swirling around Facebook and the streets of Cave Junction.

"It's a business looking to expand into Oregon," Phillippi explained. "There will be jobs created. It's not a lumber producer."

The Phillippis and other remaining staff will vacate the property and the office by the end of the month and continue to operate their forestry company, Perpetua, which has about 20,000 acres of timberland.

Indian Hill LLC, another business run by a branch of the Krauss family, of which Jennifer is a member, recently sold more than 80,000 acres of timberland.

An auction in November liquidated much of the Rough & Ready mill equipment, which has been hauled off piece by piece.

Howell said his company has dismantled and disbursed a lot of the mill items, mostly north to the Eugene area and south to California.

"Hundreds of truckloads have come off of this property," Howell said. "It's created a lot of work for a lot of people. Probably 75 people have worked here for at least a week."

JP Auto & Metal Recycling of Cave Junction is salvaging all the metal.

The Rough & Ready mill, four miles south of Cave Junction, was the Illinois Valley's largest employer for much of the last 50 years, with 225 employees and two shifts in its heyday in the 1980s.

After fits and starts the last 10 years, the Phillippis shut down operations for good in the fall, blaming a lagging federal timber supply. It was the last large-scale sawmill in Josephine County.

"It's hard to imagine that Josephine County doesn't have an operation that consumes logs," Phillippi said. "It's a sad ending."

— Reach reporter Jeff Duewel at 541-474-3720 or

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