Dorchester Lumber Co. to join since-gone sawmills
LINKWOOD, Md. — One of the Eastern Shore’s three remaining pine sawmills may soon close.
Dorchester Lumber Co. is scheduled for auction next month and will likely be sold piecemeal, said Michael Dickinson, who owns the Dorchester County mill with his brother Bennett. Dickinson, 67, said he plans to retire. His brother is 66.
Bennett’s “inclined like I am to slow up a little bit,” he said.
The closure would leave just two pine mills on Maryland’s Eastern Shore: Millville Lumber Co. and Paul M. Jones Lumber Co., both in Worcester County’s Snow Hill area. Two hardwood operations — Hardwood Mills in Millington and the J.F. Johnson Lumber Co. in Easton — also operate on the Shore.
Dorchester Lumber’s sell-off would be the most recent in a series of mill closures over the last two decades, said Elizabeth Hill, executive director of the Maryland Forests Association. Cropper Brothers Lumber Co., a well-known pine mill in Wicomico County, closed in 2017.
Twenty years ago, there were nine pine mills on the Shore. Some struggled with the competition, but recent closures haven’t been market-related, she said.
“It really has to do with just kind of aging ownership, succession planning and retirement,” she said. “There’s an abundance of resources here.”
Hill, a former secretary treasurer and plant manager at Dorchester Lumber, is Dickinson’s niece.
Dorchester Lumber is no longer buying logs and is milling its remaining stock. The auction is scheduled at the company’s site on Saturday, April 27 at 9 a.m. Its Tennessee auctioneer, Tri-State Auction & Realty, posted a notice online of auction items, including several buildings, a log merchandising system, a sawmill, a planer and sorter and numerous trucks and trailers.
It’s more bad news for Maryland’s forestry industry. Hill and other industry advocates grappled in February with news that the state plans to shut down a wood-burning power plant at Eastern Correctional Institution, a Somerset County prison, and supply it with natural gas. The prison consumes about a third of the Shore’s yearly wood chip production.
Forestry advocates asked Gov. Larry Hogan’s office to build a replacement wood-burning plant in the area to make up for the lost business. They’re still waiting for an answer, Hill said.
Robert Dickinson, Michael Dickinson’s father, incorporated Dorchester Lumber in 1953. He died in 1976 at 58 years old and passed the business onto his children, Michael Dickinson said.
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