By Sterling McGinn

A piece of Newberry’s lumbering past is now gone—but not totally forgotten. The material that kept the roof over the former Chamberlain and later JerMac sawmill have been salvaged and will be repurposed elsewhere in the country.

Located on the banks of the Tahquamenon River on M-123 north of Newberry, the building was constructed of wood with a metal roof. The old and weathered materials are like gold to people who use salvaged goods to make walls for man caves, fireplace mantles, and furniture.

The mill, which closed for good in the 1980s, belonged to one of the mill owner’s daughters, Barb Schneider, and her husband Joe. The mill building had deteriorated and needed to be removed.

“It was time for her to go down,” said Barb Schneider.

It was difficult for her to watch the materials head down the road on a trailer since the mill was a big part of her father’s life. Her dad, Chuck Jerrick, partnered with another man to purchase the mill in 1976. But she is thrilled to know the material will live on in a new way.

Barb Schneider contacted Reclaimed Michigan, a leading supplier of reclaimed wood and salvaged lumber, inquiring if they could remove the old structure.

Reclaimed Michigan, located in Waterford, Michigan, gives new life to buildings too far gone to restore, keeping the old materials out of landfills.

Last summer, an individual from the company traveled to Newberry to take the building down piece by piece.

“The guy said that this was the biggest barn he had ever taken down,” Barb Schnieder said, though she told him it wasn’t really a barn, but a sawmill building.

The first sawmill on the site was built in 1946 by Harvey Chamberlain, but it burned in 1962. The building that the Schneiders recently removed was constructed after the fire. The Chamberlains operated the mill until 1974.

In 1976, Kimberly-Clark discontinued their operations in Newberry. Two of their employees, Chuck Jerrick (Barb Schneider’s father), and Bill McGraw, partnered to purchase the Chamberlain mill to form JerMac Lumber Co. McGraw was a veteran logger who started out in 1932 and Jerrick, who came to Newberry from lower Michigan around 1933 with his mother, Mary, began his logging days around 1950. Jerrick assumed the position of mill, maintenance, and yard supervisor, while McGraw handled purchasing, scaling, and marketing.

Once the two lumbermen were in operation, they hired 10 former Kimberly-Clark employees.

The mill produced three million board feet annually and production ran on about 70 percent hardwood and 30 percent softwood purchased from a 60-mile radius. The mill’s lumber was marketed throughout the state and into Wisconsin and Ohio. The mill saw very little downtime because Jerrick kept the mill machinery running like a top.

The mill closed in 1980 when the economy took a turn for the worse. However, the company hadn’t closed; Jerrick kept the mill tuned up and maintained until the business started sawing logs again in October of 1983.

During the shutdown, Jerrick kept a close watch on the economy through his service as a Luce County Commissioner and a member of the Luce County Economic Development Board. Also in 1983, Jerrick bought out McGraw’s interest in the business and hired his wife, June, to manage the office. The business remained in operation for a number of years after. The equipment was sold off to other entities, and Jerrick gave the mill to his daughter, Barb.

The Schneiders used some of the salvaged boards on their outbuildings located around their property. The old JerMac Lumber Company sign, and the old hand-held logging tools have been placed on one of her outbuildings as a reminder of her family’s logging heritage.