Weyerhaeuser and the Railroad Land Grants


In the late 1800s, Frederick Weyerhaeuser was railroad empire builder Jim Hill's next door neighbor in St. Paul, Minnesota. They served on each other boards, and cut many a legal and illegal deal. Weyerhaeuser began his career by deforesting the upper Mississippi River pine forests of Wisconsin and Minnesota, buying up or destroying its competitors along the way (we've traced more than 200 subsidiary corporations, many of them abandoned after the trees are cut). Weyerhaeuser timber holdings are based on huge purchases from Hill's Northern Pacific Railroad land grant, including 300,000 acres in Wisconsin and Minnesota, 1,500,000 acres in Washington, and 500,000 acres in Oregon (cut and then sold in the 1990s). In the early 1900s, Weyerhaeuser incorporated Boise (Payette) Cascade to take Northern Pacific grant lands in central Idaho, and created Potlatch to exploit the pines in northern Idaho and Minnesota. Weyerhaeuser has used its profits to diversify into Asia (2,000,000 acres clearcut in the Philippines and Indonesia), Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, and elsewhere. The story of the railroad land grants and the modern corporate empires are the subject of the Railroads and Clearcuts website.


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