By Iva Beardshear
(Re-printed from the 1981 book "Some History of Lawrence County")
|Homestake sawmill at Nemo, South Dakota|
In 1898 the Black Hills and
Pierre narrow gauge railroad was
extended to Nemo and in 1908 extended to Piedmont.
The 1900 U.S. Census of Nemo Township lists two hundred residents. The main occupations given are farmer, day laborer, farm laborer, teamster and railroad laborer. A Swede named Lewis Anderson is listed as working in a meat market, James McLeod was a sawmill engineer and Thomas Stevens was the sawmill foreman. Among others listed are James Gore, Frank Stevens and Gabriel Fredrickson, all of whom were store clerks; John O’Brien, a mechanical engineer; and James Hoyt, a timber inspector.
Robert O. Robinson, who had been born in
October of 1851, was manager of the timber department from 1891 until his
retirement in 1921. He, too, is listed
on the 1900 census along with his wife, Irene, and two children, Hellen and
Nemo continued to thrive and grow, and a new, larger and more modern mill was built in Nemo in 1912. Housing was provided for employees during these years. The town contained a hotel for the convenience of the employees, a good two-story elementary school, a branch store of the Hearst Mercantile Company, Woodman Hall, a resident doctor and several summer homes.
W. D. Beardshear succeeded Robinson as manager on January 1, 1921 and continued to add improvement and modern methods. A booklet published in 1921 and entitled “A Souvenir of Nemo,
stated, “The camp is well equipped with a
water system and electric lights, and comfortable and commodious houses are
supplied to the employees. The saw-mill
is one of the best in the Black Hills, and
annually turns out many million feet of lumber and timber, which is shipped by
rail to Lead for the use of the mine and its reduction plants.
The Hearst Mercantile Company has a branch store here which has been under the management of Gabe Fredricksen for about twenty-five years. They carry a large stock of general merchandise, though employees are free to trade wherever they please.
now in process of erection will
be built of logs and finished in keeping with the forest. The Presbyterians keep a resident minister in
Nemo, but all denominations receive a cordial reception.” In 1921 Rev. Mrs. A.E. Deason was pastor of
the Community Church . Community Church
|Undated view of Nemo, South Dakota|
The railroad was taken out in 1930, giving way to trucking transportation of the mine timbers and lumber. In the late 30’s the available timber being cut to allow new growth was not large enough for harvesting; the Homestake built a large modern mill in Spearfish. Of course that took the larger part of the population from Nemo.