Stanley Izatt, 88, has worked in sawmills in Star Valley since he was 9 years old, raising seven children along the way. He said his mill, Freedom Lumber, is the last of 13 sawmills that once operated in the vale. (Angus M. Thuermer Jr./WyoFile)

Stanley Izatt has been working in sawmills in Star Valley since 1939 when he was nine years old – some 79 years ago. He began working with his father who started a water-powered mill in the 1890s, Izatt said.

Today he operates Freedom Lumber just south of Etna and will saw you a 1-inch board that, unlike modern dimensional lumber, is a true inch thick. An electric motor spins his 52-inch-diameter circular saw and its 40-some carbide cutting tips.

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He might be a better sawyer than surgeon. When he cut his right index finger almost completely off, he put himself back together. But there’s a twist to the story — a slight clockwise one from his point of view.

Holding the well-worn lever that moves logs into the saw blade, he recites what seems to be every Western logger and sawyer’s lament. “Timber supply is tough to get,” he said. “The Forest Service … they’d rather burn up the timber than utilize it.”

But at least he has a retirement plan. “I retire every night,” the father of seven said. “I hope the day I die I just go to pull this [lever] back and cash in.”

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Angus M. Thuermer Jr.

Angus M. Thuermer Jr. is the natural resources reporter for WyoFile. He is a veteran Wyoming reporter and editor with more than 35 years experience in Wyoming. Contact him at or (307)...

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