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Growth of the Lumber Industry (1840 to 1930) lesson plan


There is a strong connection between one’s environment and economic opportunity and development. For Mississippi, the state’s forests have been essential to economic growth. Through advanced transportation systems and technological advancements, the lumber industry in the state saw tremendous growth from 1840 to 1930. It was through this economic development that many towns and communities owe their existence.


Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 2, 3 and 4.


Grades 7 through 12


Overhead projector

Transparency film and overhead projector pen

Paper for map construction (poster board, construction paper or blank paper)

Paper and pen

Yarn for map

Various Mississippi history textbooks or maps from other sources

Mississippi History Now article, “Growth of the Lumber Industry (1840 to 1930)”

Other research sources


Students will:

Locate towns, rivers and railroads, mentioned in the Mississippi History Now article, that were important to the development of the lumber industry.

Describe the technological developments that contributed to the growth of the of the lumber industry.

Explain how railroads affected the lumber industry.

Explain how the growth of the lumber industry caused the development of towns.

Determine how economic growth of the lumber industry affected the environment.


Ask for student volunteers to name the natural resources in the state that provide employment opportunities. When the forests and lumbering are mentioned, ask for student volunteers to name forest products. Ask for student volunteers to name jobs that are directly or indirectly connected to the forests of Mississippi. Explain to the students that they will learn about one of the greatest boom times in Mississippi’s forest industry, that many of the state’s communities were established at this time, and this industry is still a vital part of the state’s economy.



After reading the Mississippi History Now article, the students will work in pairs to construct a map. The map will show the cities, rivers, and railroads important to the lumber industry. Students can use poster board, plain paper, or construction paper to construct their maps. If using poster board or construction paper, students can use yarn to outline the state and designate the location of railroads and rivers.


Allow students to share their maps with the class and discuss the importance of the rivers and railroads to the development of the lumber industry as well as the development of towns. The teacher can also ask the students to answer questions about their maps.


The students will copy the chart from the overhead or chalkboard. Instruct the students to complete the cause and effect columns using the Mississippi History Now article. Possible answers the students might generate are listed in italics on the chart below. The students can work with partners or alone on this activity. If working alone, the teacher can instruct the students to compare their answers with a partner. The teacher will ask volunteers to share their answers, which will be recorded on an overhead transparency of the chart.




Exhaustion of timber in North and East

Loggers move to Mississippi

Sawmills are built in the state

Railroads are built

Large sawmills are built

Profits increase and lumber industry thrives

Timber near rivers depleted and timber source further away

Mills built own rail lines

Dummy lines reach interior of forests

Logging costs are cut

Skidders replaced Lindsey Eight-Wheel Wagon

Equipment destroyed young timber growth

Dantzler uses waste products for paper and Mason develops "Masonite"

Quick returns for young trees

Land owners planted second forests


The students will be asked to write a news article about one of the topics listed below. The teacher will probably need to remind the students of the elements found in a letter to the editor (opinion) and a news article (who, what, where, when, why, and how). The students should include a headline for their news article. The news items should be from the time period of the Mississippi History Now article. The teacher can designate whether students write a letter to the editor or a news article.


Suggested topics

The impact of railroads

The development of towns

The new technology of the lumber industry

Destruction of the environment


The teacher will ask the students to volunteer to read their news articles or letters to the editor to the class.




News articles or letters to the editor

Class participation



Students can research forest products manufactured in Mississippi.


Field trip to the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Museum in Jackson.


Tony Howe (dhbjda@datasync.com) and David Price (sprice@netdoor.com) are available to make presentations to classes and groups using digital projection for images and maps. E-mail your request to either one.

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