Wiergate is on Farm Road 1415 just off State highways 87 and 63, seventy miles northeast of Beaumont in north central Newton County. It had the last large lumber mill built in East Texas in 1917 by Houston lumberman Robert W. Wier, for whom it was named. The Wier Long Leaf Lumber Company was to clearcut an 86,000-acre tract of virgin longleaf pine in northern Newton, Jasper, and Sabine counties owned by the heirs of early lumbermen Henry Jacob Lutcher and G. Bedell Moore. The Lutcher and Moore heirs, who considered cutting and transporting the lumber to already established mills too expensive, gave Wier a contract to build a large sawmill on the site. According to one source, Wier wanted to establish his mill at Burkeville, but landowners there looked unfavorably upon the rough sawmill workers such a project would bring. Therefore Wier erected a new town, Wiergate, four miles west of Burkeville, around a mill with a cutting capacity of 200,000 board feet every ten hours. In its heyday Wiergate was in all respects a company town. With a peak population of perhaps as many as 2,500 persons, it had a company-owned commissary, a drugstore, a barbershop, an ice plant, a depot, a swimming pool, a movie theater, and two schools and community houses (one for Blacks, one for Whites). One resident recalled Wiergate as "a little world unto itself" in a "beautiful setting." Wier also built the fifteen-mile Gulf and Northern Railroad, which connected his town to Newton. He completed his task in 1943, dismantled the large mill, and abandoned the railroad. The population of Wiergate, estimated at 1,000 in 1936, fell to 350 by the end of the 1940s. However, a smaller mill, with a daily capacity of 50,000 board feet, was still in operation in 1990, using lumber from the region's second-growth forests. The timber resources and the town's proximity to Burkeville have helped the population of Wiergate to recover slightly. Since the mid-1960s the population has been estimated at over 450. In 1990 it was 461. The population remained the same in 2000.
Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.
Robert Wooster | © Texas State Historical Association
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