With the logging industry thus established on a dependable basis, big eastern holding companies purchased large tracts of unsurveyed land from the Government. They also sent representatives into a homesteading area to buy homesteads and timber claims from settlers. Since this was a direct violation of the Homestead Act, they didn't want the government to hear of it. To insure secrecy they not only made a cash payment, but also offered the settler an interest in the company. In consequence, by 1891, many "floaters" preempted land for the large companies, secured title, and immediately sold to them for the last thirty years of its existence. The preemption law was thus abused.
After the fire of 1902 had scorched the larger part of Merrill and Ring's fir timber around New London, they joined forces with Polson. Merrill acquiring 49% of the Olson Logging Co. stock. He realized that while his timber wasn't destroyed, it was killed and would have to be logged at once. Polson had already constructed about three miles of railroad into the timber. Now the company extended it into the Merrill & Ring holdings.
The first Polson railroad engine - affectionately nicknamed by the crew "Old Fartin' Betsy" - was the first logging locomotive to cross the Rocky mountains. In 1885, according to the Hoquiam "Sawyer", Polson produced 2,900,000 board feet of lumber. By 1910 the company was producing 140,000,000 board feet, and employing 700 men with a payroll of from $35,000 to $40,000 per month. (During that period the population of Hoquiam increased from 1,500 to 14,000). The Polson Logging Company had become the largest logging concern in the world.
In the early 1900s, the Humptulips Driving Company built two "splash" dams - one on the east, the other on the west fork of the Humptulips, some fourteen miles above Humptulips City. These dams provided an outlet for the largest stand of timber in America - the famous "21-9" meaning township 21 N., Range 9 W. of Willamette meridian.
These dams, however, were not an unmixed blessing, as the sudden rise of water cost the lives of several men. One river foreman ordered a "splash" for a certain day, then changed his mind. So he sent a messenger, Ray Bollen, to tell them not to open the gates. The young fellow wasn't very familiar with the country. He rented a horse from Bud Loomis and went up on the East branch to a ford. While crossing the river he was caught in the head of a splash that washed horse and rider off the riffle into deep water and drowned them both. Fred and Darwin Brittain found Bollen's body and that of his horse near their camp. "Doc" Hoover recalls that another man, Adren Groseclose, drowned in a C. E. Burrows splash.