Forgotten Trails: ‘Why Not' area's name has quite a detailed history

Published 6:42 am Wednesday, February 14, 2007

By Staff
Sometime back I told you about a Mr. Gillis who worked with the railroad and his experiences with a hurricane. In the material I was given was an article about Why Not and how it got its name. I thought you might be interested also.
Most of you, especially hunters, know of Why Not Camp, which is located on T.R. Miller Mill Company land. The camp has long been associated with the preservation of wildlife in this area.
In the early 1900s it was a farm of 600 acres operated by T.R. Miller Mill Company during World War I when food was scarce. The company responded to the call by the government and cleared land to be planted with foodstuff. Included in the acreage was a spot that was known as Why Not. The farm was operated until 1936 when the land was replanted in pines.
The history of Why not goes even further back.
By 1903 the Cedar Creek Mill Company, now known as T.R. Miller Mill Company, realized the value of transporting logs by the railroad. In 1904 the company began construction of a railroad from Brewton to a fishpond where it established logging quarters, and built a number of buildings for housing and a locomotive roundhouse. Around 60 miles of ditches had been dug to float the cut logs from the mill to the mill in Brewton. The railroad was to carry logs to the ditches and was constructed by J.N. Gillis.
When the first trainload of logs were taken to the ditch and unloaded, it was discovered that the locomotive could not pull the cars back up the incline from the ditch to level land. They unhooked about half of the cars and tried again and found that the locomotive still had difficulty in pulling the cars.
The solution was to decrease the degree of the elevation from the ditch landing to level land. The first time it was tried, it still didn't work so the incline was deepened and lengthened. The train was still having difficulty making the climb.
The whole situation presented a big problem for the mill and there was much discussion as to what could be done. It was during one of the discussions between T.R. Miller and W.W. Downing, the owners of the mill, that Gillis made the remark that became the name of the location of Why Not.
It seemed so simple. Why float logs when they could be sent all the way from where they were cut to the mill in Brewton? Ever since that discussion between Miller, Downing and Gillis, the spot where the decision was made has been known as &#8220Why Not.”
I thought you might enjoy hearing this explanation.
Now to another little bit of information.
This time I, and a reader, am asking the question about a business that used to be in town. Does anyone remember a music store located along St. Joseph Avenue about 60 years ago?
If so, let me know. I know there used to be one on Mildred Street, but I can't remember the name.
If you can help, call Lydia Grimes at 867-4876 or email to

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