Ten years before the Town of Elma was formed there were nineteen water wheels, twenty three saw mills, and five steam mills working up timber day and night for a large part of the year. Streams and creeks furnished a steady supply of water. During heavy rains or spring thawing of snows there would be a freshet. A large amount of water was held back in swamps and low grounds, gradually making its way to the streams and creeks, thus furnishing a steady supply. Lumber such as hemlock, and elm brought about eight dollars per thousand feet and was in abundance in Elma and the only items to raise funds in order to support a living. Instead of cutting down the trees and burning the timber so that crops could be raised, a new plan was to utilize timber so every tree of every kind that was suitable for a saw log was taken to the saw mill and made into lumber which was used for buildings and fences on the farms. or taken to Buffalo. Their objective was to have the timber pay for necessary labor, support ones family, and pay for the land. Elma's settlers labored from sunrise to sunset in the mills. The photo ( upper left) shows a foundation block from the original Hurd and Briggs Saw Mill. These foundations were not removed but used to support the newly constructed replica of the saw mill.
The above photo is the only known picture of the interior of the original mill in 1846.
THE HURD AND BRIGGS SAW MILL 1846
It was August 1st 1845 when Clark W. Hurd and Joseph B. Briggs along with Allen and Hiram Clark purchased of Fulford and Plummer their interest in Lot 57 and 52 from Joseph Fellows. Lot 52 ( present location of Elma Village Green Park) was the ideal place to construct a dam on Buffalo Creek. On August of 1845 Clark Hurd and Joseph Briggs commenced building their dam (pictured in the photo above). They brought a supply of provisions for a few days and did their cooking by fire beside an old log, and at night had a bed of hemlock boughs with blankets for what cover they needed for that time of year while the dam was being constructed Before the mill race, leading from the dam to the saw mill was dug, the Indians had patches of cornfields on the flats through which a right of way had to be bought. That same year a board shanty was built on the west side of Bowen Road for boarding and lodging for the men digging the mill race and building the saw mill. After the dam was completed work was pushed in order to frame and raise the Hurd and Briggs saw mill before winter set in. Photo above left: Clark W. Hurd right: Joseph Briggs ca. 1846