The Weyerhaeuser Company was founded by Frederick Weyerhaeuser in 1900. Prior to 1900, Weyerhaeuser had started work in a saw mill in Rock Island, Illinois at the age of 18, and eventually became the foreman for the company. When the financial panic of 1857 hit, he bought the mill and with the partnership of his brother-in-law bought out many other mills in the area. Weyerhaeuser started to buy timberlands in the 1860s from wherever he could obtain them and continued to buy lands among the Western states. He eventually bought land from railroad magnate James J. Hill, acreage originally designated for the expansion of the railroad. It was then decided to start the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company. Weyerhaeuser became the owner of more than three million acres of timberland and continued the practice of personally owning the land instead of his business. The company became contracted with the United States Army during World War I to build wooden ships, reconnaissance airplanes, and wooden barracks for the troops. The demand for wood was so high that the army sent soldiers to help with the production of wood products.