Fastrill Logging Camp

Established in 1922, the Fastrill logging camp eventually became the largest and longest-lasting of all the Southern Pine Lumber Company (SPLC) camps in East Texas. Located roughly eleven miles from Rusk, along the Neches River in Cherokee County, Fastrill was named for three SPLC managers: Frank Farrington, P.H. Strauss, and William Hill. The camp operated for almost 20 years, and served as the home for 600 residents.

As was the case with the vast majority of lumber camps in East Texas, Fastrill was a company town, owned and operated by SPLC. But, it was also a permanent site that differed from the mobile logging camps that sprang up across the region. A post office opened shortly after the town was founded in 1922, and soon thereafter Southern Pine opened a general store, barber shop, cleaning and pressing shop, gas station, cannery, and church. The town also had a school, which operated with funding provided by Southern Pine for a nine-month school year.

Fastrill was divided into several different residential districts for whites, African Americans, and Mexican Americans. SPLC also provided farming equipment as well as electrical power at certain times of the day. The camp employees worked six days a week, getting Sundays off to go to church and spend time with their families. A favorite recreational activity for the people of Fastrill was swimming in the nearby Neches River on Sunday afternoons.

The town had over two-hundred loggers cutting timber in the surrounding forests. These men earned a combined thirty thousand dollars a month and cut and shipped fifty million feet of logs a year. The Fastrill camp operated through the Great Depression, lasting until 1941, when it finally exhausted the available timber in the surrounding forest. That September, the local post office closed, and the town quickly shut down as well. The residents of Fastrill were sent to Diboll, where the men were given new jobs with Southern Pine. The only reminder of Fastrill that remains today are two grave markers located near the site of the town.