The Florida Division of Forestry provided sawmill operation demonstrations during the 10th Annual Munson Heritage Festival held on the grounds of the Krul Recreation Area in Munson.
The sawmill which was purchased in 1989 by Mr. Norman Riley, who resides in the Blackwater River State Forest , used it for his own personal operations until he donated it in 2009 to the Florida Forest Service to be used at the Heritage Festival and other events. It was Riley’s desire that the area’s rich heritage of logging and lumber production could be observed and preserved for generations.
The sawmill was originally purchased and put into operation in the mid 1950’s in Baldwin County Alabama, by Mr. Ray Giles. Giles and his sons cut timber and produced lumber with the mill for over 35 years. The original mill was purchased with all wood parts, but Giles and his sons replaced those parts with metal improvements. Two major hurricanes made landfall in their area during that time period and left massive timber damage that the Giles cut into lumber.
The saw mill which is now called the Riley Sawmill, is powered by a General Motors diesel truck motor. The left handed cut has a circular 48 inch blade with 52 carbine teeth. The blade turns at 600 R.P.M. and can cut logs with the dimensions up to ten feet long and up to a 22 inch diameter.
During the Annual Munson Heritage Festival the saw mill as well as a grist mill, cane press and more demonstrations are available for viewing and recollecting the heritage of our area.
Over 90 vendors were on the grounds to provide a fun weekend of arts, crafts, music, food, art, and heritage of the Munson Community. Festival Secretary Justin Rowell stated, “The festival was great with approximately 5000 visitors through the park. We want to thank everyone who came out.”
The festival is held annually during the second weekend of October.