A sawmill is a facility where logs are cut into boards.
The first sawmills were powered by water wheels. Generally only the saw was powered and the logs had to be loaded and moved by hand. A small mill such as this would be the centre of many rural communities in wood-exporting regions such as the Baltic countries and Canada. The output of such mills would be quite low, perhaps only 500 boards per day. They would also generally only operate during the winter, the peak logging season.
The introduction of steam power in the 19th century created many new possibilities for mills. They could be built away from water and could be far more mechanized. Efficiency was increased, but the capital cost of a new mill increased dramatically as well.
In the twentieth century the introduction of electricity and high technology furthered this process and now most sawmills are massive and extremely expensive facilities in which almost every aspect of the work is mechanized. Today a mill can make many hundreds of thousands of boards per day.
Small gasoline-powered sawmills run by local entrepreneurs served many communities in the early 20th century and specialty markets still today.