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Flying Bird Image

When Everybody Called Me Gah-bay-bi-nayss,
"Forever-Flying-Bird":
An Ethnographic Biography of
Paul Peter Buffalo

Timothy G. Roufs
University of Minnesota Duluth

a note on tenses
a note on style

orignal tapes information

Table of Contents

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Buffalo Image

39

Timber Days(1)

 Reprinted in HometownFocus.us
 Part I -- 7 September 2012, pp. 29-31
 Part II -- 14 September 2012
 Part III -- 21 September 2012
I have a lot of points to talk about, but lot of them are just sketches. A lot of them are about places that I was. Others are about things that talking to others reminds me about. When I talk to other old timers I know what they're talking about. Then I begin to enjoy it, because I was through that life. I went through times like the timber days. I went through the timber days and the logging camps and all that stuff. That was good.

Lumberjacks.

Lumberjacks.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1908
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 r75 Negative No. 68814

The White frontier came into our area as loggers. The White frontier came as loggers to log off our area. The logging camps were moving in about 1916, '07, '08. In the meantime, when I was at school,(2) they came in full blast. And they came heavy in 1912, and after World War I. They were moving on Mud Lake, west of Mud Lake, on what we call now National Forestry land and on what we call tribal land of Leech Lake. It was our timber they were going after, but we got a certain percentage of that timber money. The Federal Government gave a percentage to the Indians. So we didn't mind.

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Stand of white pine, Chippewa National Forest?, Itasca County.

Stand of white pine, Chippewa National Forest?, Itasca County.
Photograph Collection, 1897
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. SC1c p8 Negative No. 13007

In those days they had big logging camps that would hold about a hundred fifty men, a hundred fifty lumberjacks. Lumberjacks in Indian is giis-ka-aa$-kway. "They're cutters," is giis-ka-aa$-kway. giis-ka-aa$-kway I-nI-nii, that's a "cutter, a man" -- a lumberjack. See? Lumbercamp in Ojibwa is gii-ska-aa-kwam, "cutting-timber, and that's a camp." gii-ska-aa-kwan is a building where the cutters stay. "The camps of all the building" is, giis-ka-aa$-kwan. That's camp. That means "they cut timber in there, there's nothing but timber work, and that's where they stay." The camps had big long bunk houses with double bunks made of lumber,(3) and lumberjacks with whiskers -- and tobacco juice running down their whiskers -- worked the whole day. Early in the morning all the lumberjacks got an axe and went rushing off for timber.

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Lumber Camp in the Chippewa National Forest.

Lumber Camp in the Chippewa National Forest.
Photograph Collection, 1905
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.1 p43 Negative No. 12980

 

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Unloading supplies from railroad cars on Campbell and Shiels Camp number one side track leading to the barn.

Unloading supplies from railroad cars on Campbell and Shiels Camp
number one side track leading to the barn.
Photograph Collection, 1922
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location no. HD5.1C p4

 

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Bunkhouse logging camp near Bemidji.

Bunkhouse logging camp near Bemidji.
Creator: Arthur A. Richardson
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1908
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 r37 Negative No. 25179

 

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Loading sled with lumberjacks' lunch.

Loading sled with lumberjacks' lunch.
Creator: Arthur A. Richardson
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 r51 Negative No. 3146

 

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Lunch carrier for the driving crew on the Clam River.

Lunch carrier for the driving crew on the Clam River.
Photograph Collection, 1901
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 p4 Negative No. 68829

 

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Inside of a cook shanty.

Inside of a cook shanty.
Creator: Arthur A. Richardson
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 r45 Negative No. 10500

 

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Lumber camp cook house near Walker.

Lumber camp cook house near Walker.
Photograph Collection, 1915
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 p158 Negative No. 40251

 

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Interior of lumber camp kitchen near Deer River.

Interior of lumber camp kitchen near Deer River.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 r38 Negative No.

 

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Lumber camp dining hall, Itasca or Cass County.

Lumber camp dining hall, Itasca or Cass County.
Photograph Collection, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 p209 Negative No. 61774

 

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Women cooks (Martha and Clara Stene) in front of logging camp cookshack,  Bill Landahl Camp, Beltrami County.

Women cooks (Martha and Clara Stene) in front of logging camp cookshack,
Bill Landahl Camp, Beltrami County.
Photograph Collection, 1917
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 p61 Negative No. 33301

 

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Lumberjack with dinner horn, northern Minnesota.

Lumberjack with dinner horn, northern Minnesota.
Photograph Collection, 1915
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 r73 Negative No. 53132

 

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Cook shack in a logging camp near Bemidji.

Cook shack in a logging camp near Bemidji.
Creator: Arthur A. Richardson
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1908
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 r43 Negative No. 23392

When I was a little boy I was standing there watching them. I was wishing I was able, some day, to join them. Every time I'd take hold of some can-hook,(4) or learn how to spin a can-hook and grab a log, I thought that was slick. How they would handle those tools!

These loggers weren't all Finlanders.(5) There were French, and some of them were Norwegian. They were cutting Norway and white pine on the high land west of Mud Lake. Then came the Finlanders. Finlanders were pretty good at logging, especially with the cedar. Later on, there were Swedes mostly. Swedes came, about war time, about World War I. Swedes are good too. They're wonderful piece-cutters.

All nationalities can learn logging. As I say, anybody can make a practice of it, and can soon learn how to, if they're at all interested when they get in the woods. But the Finlanders have the right act with the timber. They like that. They like timber, really. Finlanders and Indians work together very well. They get along very good. They work together like a team of horses, and they look good in the woods. They have the act.

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Alexander "Sandy" McDougal, Minnesota lumberjack for sixty years.

Alexander "Sandy" McDougal, Minnesota lumberjack for sixty years.
Photographer: John Runk
Photograph Collection, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. Runk 240 Negative No. Runk240

But I mean to say we were working on a big scale in those days. There were Finlanders and Indians, and Swedes and Norwegians, and a Frenchman here and there. They were all good. They're steady. They're calm.

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Group of lumberjacks.

Group of lumberjacks.
Photograph Collection, 1894
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. Runk 227 Negative No. Runk227

First of all they always look for safety in the woods. They look how to protect the labor man, how to manage for safety. You can get killed very easy in the woods, if you don't know the woods. And that's what Finlanders and Indians think about. All woodsmans think about that, I don't mean only certain nationalities -- but the Finlanders are really good at it.

The frontier loggers were awful good to us, because some of them just came here to work and they didn't know where they were. The Finns came here to settle down. But many of the others just came here to work. Lots of them didn't know where they were -- they were just shipped in here for a job.

On the frontier the Whites and Indians worked together. We got a job from the Whites in the logging camps. In the logging camps they hired Indians and Whites both. It didn't make any difference. There was no discrimination. No. All worked together. All worked happily. In the lumber camp you'd live right amongst them there, if you wanted to. When the Indians got a job, some of them camped with the Whites, and the Whites work with the Indians. They were your neighbor. Of course, we had a few drag-alongs that went in with the Whites, but, still, we overlooked that and the Whites thought the Indians were all right. And they get along fine in the logging camp.

And then when we went to work, when the Indians wanted to work somewhere, they got their job. And it didn't take too long to learn how to do the job. And finally the Indians became loggers themselves, by learning from the Whites and using their tools. We got along just fine, and we learned how to use tools, how to file our tools, how to sharpen tools, from the White man that was well-equipped up here in the North. The Whites showed us how to use the tools. And that's the way we got along in this state of Minnesota.

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Blacksmith shop, Page-Hill Company camp near Bemidji.

Blacksmith shop, Page-Hill Company camp near Bemidji.
Creator: A. A. Richardson Photo-Illustration Company
Photograph Collection, 1895
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 p137 Negative No. 10501

 

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Blacksmith shoeing horse at a lumber camp.

Blacksmith shoeing horse at a lumber camp.
Creator: William F. Roleff (1873-1943)
Photograph Collection, 1912
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. Album 95 Negative No. 32278

When the lumberjacks came in, as soon as the loggers came in, they gave us lots to do. We had jobs after they came. When a bunch of us Indians would go look for a job somewhere, the loggers would say, "Sure, go to work." They put us all to work, and that's what we liked. We liked to be in a group, just like the Finns. When six and seven Indian boys(6) were in a group, ah! -- that work was playing! We'd think nothing of work when we were in a group.

"Well," the logger said, "as long as you do good work, and as long as you know the woods and work and learn how to work just the way I want you to, I'd have you work anytime." He like the Indian you know. "But the Indian won't stay sometime," he said. "They don't know the value of money and how to save it for the winter. As soon's they get money enough, they draw their money, and away they go. They'll be gone for a few days; then they come back."

I've talked to the loggers and they say that, but, ya, they couldn't turn the Indian down -- because the White loggers like the Indians' work. I never was turned down. I think there's very few Indians that were turned down in a logging camp -- in my days anyway. They always hired us. We enjoy that. They fed good in the camps. We led a happy life.

We were willing to work. We made a play of it, and we were willing to do it right. That's what I've seen. I was in the bunch too. Ya, and that was a good day, those days.

And the Indians were happy when they got their money and went to town and bought what they needed for their folks, if they had a family. This was the great life of our days.

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Camp store, Camp Number 5, near Deer River

Camp store, Camp Number 5, near Deer River.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 r41 Negative No. 12910

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Lumberjacks in company store, Page-Hill logging camp near Bemidji

Lumberjacks in company store, Page-Hill logging camp near Bemidji.
Creator: A. A. Richardson Photo-Illustration Company
Photograph Collection, 1895
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 p138 Negative No. 9070

 

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Interior of Carson's Trading Post, site of Bemidji

Interior of Carson's Trading Post, site of Bemidji.
Creator: George P. Metcalf
Photograph Collection, 1894
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD2.1 r16 Negative No. 2433

We felt that we didn't have to have an education to log with the tools in our hands in those early days, to chop with our strong muscles. Now, everything is in power. You have to know how to run, operate, the machinery. You have to have an education now to keep the machinery a-going. Because education is coming in the loggers now follow the easiest way of life, the press-the-button life. And I think it's much better, much easier, now.

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Dice game in the bunkhouse, Dunning's Camp Number two,  fourty miles north of Grand Rapids.

Dice game in the bunkhouse, Dunning's Camp Number two,
fourty miles north of Grand Rapids.
Creator: Brown
Photograph Collection, 1903
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. Runk 14 Negative No. Runk14

Of course, in the old days, before machinery and power tools, it took a lot of energy to work in the woods. We'd wake up, work out in the woods ten hours a day, and come in. We didn't mind it. And we knew we accomplished a day's work. In a camp we'd play cards. And then in the spring came the log drives. We'd drive the timber down the rivers, down the streams, from lake to lake, and over the rapids.

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Group of men in stream with logs.

Group of men in stream with logs.
Creator: Arthur A. Richardson
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.41 r62 Negative No. 28821

They always used one another good at the camps. In the camps we were just like brothers, and it didn't make any difference what nationality came in the camp. Some of them stay as high as a month on one job. And when they hit a camp they liked, some of them stay all winter. Some stay as high as all the season, all winter. Then, when the spring break-up comes, some of them draw out their checks.

I was shifted around so much from camp to camp in my early days that I was becoming capable to get around amongst the Whites and also the Indians. I can talk English a little bit. I can talk a little Indian. And I know the history of the area. I remember when I was six or seven years old as I rode the canoe over the seas of the great lakes.(7) I knew a lot of that stuff and sometimes went from one camp to another. I asked friends why they would jump from one camp to another. I never liked to do that, jump one camp from another, quit, and then go. But still, I would always be drawn into that camp jumping. Oh, we had a great life!

Lumberjacks years ago would come out of the camps just high strung to move the so-many-thousand-feet load of logs. Logs were piled high on the eight-foot bunks -- cross-wood bunks -- of the big heavy sleds.

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Loading logs onto a horse drawn sled.

Loading logs onto a horse drawn sled.
Creator: Arthur A. Richardson
Photograph Collection, 1900
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.31 p54 Negative No. 26192

They moved timber those days! What I'm talking about were loads! There were no truck loads, there were horse-drawed bunks -- good twelve-foot bunks loaded as high as sixteen feet.

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Crew with loaded sled of logs.

Crew with loaded sled of logs.
Creator: Arthur A. Richardson
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.31 r44 Negative No. 89793

They used bunks in those olden logging days. I'm talking about logging days, not these second-crop brush loggers. I'm talking about timber, real timber, the timber they used to have to roll on the bunks and stack up without side stakes.

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Horse log jammer, loading logs.

Horse log jammer, loading logs.
Photograph Collection, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.31 p79 Negative No. 22768

 

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Horse operated jammer loading logs on sled.

Horse operated jammer loading logs on sled.
Photograph Collection, 1920
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.31 p19 Negative No. 57609

That's another thing. They took those logs and built them up on those bunks like a wall, straight up in the air. They'd throw just those corner binds, corner binding chains, on the bottom log. They'd just put the corner binds on the bottom log, and then they'd fill up the bunk, building it to a peak as high as eight or twelve feet. It peaked about twelve feet high -- sometimes sixteen feet.

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Magnuson and Lindell Logging Camp.

Magnuson and Lindell Logging Camp.
Creator: Burkhart
Photograph Collection, 1890
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.1M p10 Negative No. 74888

Four-horse teams pulled the sleds, but it took six horses to start that load. Before they started, the teamsters always worried about coming out.(8) They were worried about getting stuck coming out. The lumberjack's the same as a truck driver -- he's afraid he's going to get stuck all the time.

Early in the morning, right after breakfast, the old teamster(9) puts on his coat and gets his team out -- a team of four horses -- and hitches them to the sled. He'd stand there looking at the sled, and everybody's come out to see him start that load. If he's any good as a teamster he'd be a good truck driver at this time. They'd come out there, all looking at the load, a wonderful load, and they'd ask him, "Are you gonna get that down?"

Sitting there all night the runners of the bunk would freeze down. When all four runners were froze down, they had to be jarred with a heavy maul or post or something to get the load started. And in the morning they'd break them loose from the frost.

They build ice-rut roads those days. They brought a tank(10) in and worked all night on icing the ruts. The teamster would be the first one breaking the frost with the sled.

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Lumberjacks with snowplow and rutter pulled by horses. This is hitched behind the front of a logging sleigh.

Lumberjacks with snowplow and rutter pulled by horses.
This is hitched behind the front of a logging sleigh.
Photograph Collection, 1900
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location no. HD5.31 p70 Negative no. 23692

 

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Breaking out the road at the Alger Smith & Company camp number eight, Cook County.

Breaking out the road at the Alger Smith & Company camp number eight, Cook County.
Photographer: William F. Roleff (1873-1943)
Photograph Collection, 1916
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location no. HD5.21 p7 Negative no. 161

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Horse drawn road sprinkler.

Horse drawn road sprinkler.
Photograph Collection, 1890
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.21 r4 Negative No. 16066

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Filling water tank for building ice roads at the Gore and Stinson lumber camp on the Clam River, Wisconsin.

Filling water tank for building ice roads
at the Gore and Stinson lumber camp on the Clam River, Wisconsin.
Photograph Collection, 1904
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.21 p2 Negative No. 9052

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Loading water tank to be used in icing logging roads  at Mulvey & Son camp at Hay Creek, Kanabec County.

Loading water tank to be used in icing logging roads
at Mulvey & Son camp at Hay Creek, Kanabec County.
Photograph Collection, 1892
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. Runk 32 Negative No. Runk32

He'd stand there . . . thinking. . . .

"Well," he said, "I don't think I can move the load. You better get the leaders on there. Get the starters."

They had to have a starter on that load, you know. But how the hell, ah, how the heck are you going to put a starter on the four horses?

Well, out came the buying boss with a heavy team of horses, and he just eases the extra team up to the load, hooks up to the pole of the four horses, and gives them a start.

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Load of logs at Joe Dunning's Camp Number two, Grand Rapids.

Load of logs at Joe Dunning's Camp Number two, Grand Rapids.
Creator: Brown
Photograph Collection, 1903
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. Runk 68 Negative No. Runk68

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Load of logs hauled one mile by four horses.  Thirty one thousand four hundred eighty foot load hauled by Anne River Logging Company.

Load of logs hauled one mile by four horses.
Thirty one thousand four hundred eighty foot load
hauled by Anne River Logging Company.
Creator: Sanford C. Sargent
Photograph Collection, 1892
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. Runk 54 Negative No. Runk54

Before the teamster starts he reaches in his pocket, with the men talking to him there, and he pulls out a package of Peerless.(11) He takes about pred'near a quarter of a package to chew and shoves it back of his cheek, back of his teeth.
Peerless Tobacco.

Then he puts that Peerless in his pocket and he reaches over to his other side and gets about a half-a-pound of plug tobacco from his hip pocket. He takes out his jackknife, whittles that plug into chips, and he stuffs the chips into the other side of his jaw.

Boy!

He looked like a gopher standing there talking!

Well, everybody would already think that he's taking quite a chew, but on the top of that he'd pull out that old birch-bark snuff box they used to have, he'd dig his two fingers and a thumb in there, and he'd take a big chew of that snuff and put it in the middle of his mouth between his teeth and lips. He was all tobacco in his mouth, but he'd keep on a-talking and you wouldn't think anything would bother him. That big of a chew was enough to knock anybody out! But it takes quite a lot of tobacco to steady the nerves of that teamster starting a load that big.

He'd pick up the line and he'd say, "Sam, Dick, Don." And the leader team, they obeyed. All the horses were trained, and they all got down to the collar and lifted the load just as pretty as they could, and the load was started. And when the load started the guy that was alongside the leaders would unhook the leaders and the four horses would continue that load on their journey.

Then the teamster would stand on the roller.(12) Instead of riding the top of the logs he'd stand on the roller back of the horses, the roller of the pole which pulls the runner. It gets pretty cold there sometimes, so cold that the teamster would have to stomp his feet on the road to keep warm. He didn't dare to jump off, and he didn't dare to walk because at times it was going down grade and he had to pull the reigns for the leaders. Otherwise if the sled goes down the hill too fast, the leaders would get excited and probably have a crash in through the timber.(13)

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Load of logs enroute to lake for spring drive to Sprofka Mill on Rat Lake.

Load of logs enroute to lake for spring drive to Sprofka Mill on Rat Lake.
(White Earth Indian Reservation)
Creator: Robert G. Beaulieu
Photograph Collection, 1920
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.31 r19 Negative No. 6409-A

So that was the old history of what I've seen of lumberjacks in the old teamster days. I often wondered how they could stand that much tobacco in their mouth. He didn't chew the whole half-a-pound, but I figured all together it would make a half a pound, with juice and all. And when he spit, he'd hit a dime about eight feet from the road. Boy they were "sharp shooting" that tobacco juice.

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Logs on sled in woods.
Creator: Arthur A. Richardson
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1915
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.31 r74 Negative No. 28837

I've been in the lumber camps. Sure, I've been out of Bena there, near where we used to live when I was a boy. At Bena, and other camps close to the railroad line, they had locomotives which would switch off railroad cars to the logging area.

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Camp number one, Campbell and Shiels, located on switch track of the Duluth and Northeastern Railroad.

Camp number one, Campbell and Shiels,
located on switch track of the Duluth and Northeastern Railroad.
Photograph Collection, 1922
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location no. HD5.1C p8 Negative no. 56733

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Man standing on railroad tracks in a heavily wooded area,
Norway Beach at Cass Lake.

Photograph Collection, 1906
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. SC1c p6 Negative No. 12976

 

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Logging railroad through the pine forest, The Virginia
and Rainy Lake Company, Virginia.
Published by the The Albertype Company, Brooklyn, New York
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1928
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.33 r18 Negative No. 75681

 

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Lumber train in the Chippewa National Forest.
Photograph Collection, 1904
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.33 p37 Negative No. 12981

 

And they had big flatcars, and the flatcars were loaded by big teams. These teams had sixteen-hundred-pound horses. Boy these horses had power to pull those sixteen foot logs that would scale a hundred, two hundred feet to a log. The horses were well fed in those big camps. The teams would pull those loads, and the men would walk along beside them hours after hours and day after day, skidding the logs over to the flatcars with their one-bunk drays.

On the flatcar, the railroad car, they'd build logs straight up, just like a wall, without the logs slipping out of the load. That's tricky, that top loading. That's what they call "top loading." A man would be there top loading with a jammer, a chain. He is the one called "top-loader."

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Log jammer loading logs in the Cass Lake area,
Chippewa National Forest.
Photograph Collection, 1900 - 1902
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.31 p66 Negative No. 43627

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Loading logs on to a railroad car, Northern Minnesota.
Photograph Collection, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.33 p61 Negative No. 53139

 

When I was a boy I often wondered how they'd get them logs up in there like that, but they'd get them there. Later on I saw just how they done it.

They pull these logs up with horses, and the top-loader would pull the jammer. That's "cross-hauling." That's how they would load these logs. When they say, "Hold'er," the horses understood and they stopped. "Whoa," the cross-haul man would yell. The top-loader would spot these logs just where he wants them dropped.

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Loading logs alongside the railroad tracks with the use of horses,
Page-Hill Company lumber camp.
Creator: Arthur A. Richardson
Photograph Collection, 1900
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.33 p43 Negative No.

The top-loader is the one who says, "Hold'er," and the horses hold 'er. The teamster is just hooking and unhooking the logs, and helping along so there is no disturbment of the horses. Even when the logs are hooked up high in the air all the teamster has to do is tie the lines on the cross-evener(14) so they won't drag on the ground. Then all he does is hang on to that ring where the evener is. They would hook the horses' double-trees,(15) that is where the eveners, the chain, are hooked on as tugs. "Evener" is where they pull on. It is a double tree. Then they hook on the head, the top-loader head, and the cross-haul horses would listen for the top-loader.

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Logger loading logs on to flatbed railroad cars.
Creator: William F. Roleff (1873-1943)
Photograph Collection, 1916
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. Album 95 Negative No. 3464-B

 

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Loggers loading logs on to flatbed railroad car.
Creator: William F. Roleff (1873-1943)
Photograph Collection, 1916
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. Album 95 Negative No. 3473-B

The teamster don't have to say a word; the horses just listen to the top-loader back there. It's natural. You'd think that they'd listen to the teamster. At times they do, but at certain times they're listening to the top-loader way up there on the pile.

"Huui," he'd say, and the horses would tighten up and raise the timber higher. They were well trained. It was natural. They practice that. Some of the best cross-haul teams that you could ever get understood the top-loader. Gee, that is a trick, heh? You'd think the teamsters start them off that way. Sure, the teamsters would start them off, but after the horsesget a-goin' they would listen to the top-loader. Any team could come there and calm down and work down this way. They know what to do when the top-loader hollers. When he said, "Hold'er," they'd tighten up and hold that load up in the air while the top-loader straightens the logs the way he want them to be dropped. They'd hold the logs way up there on the railroad cars. The lumberjack has the knack of handling those tools, and they were quick about it. You have to be quick because you have to keep up. Sometimes you had to catch a log on the fly, while it's rolling, and they would snub those logs on top and flick them ajar. You were supposed to "hold Canada" on them or slow them down with the point before you got them with the can-hook. I don't know how they do it, but it's well done. A lot of them knew how to do it. A lot of them can even load these flatcars from the ground.

When the top-loader is ready and well positioned with the logs, he hollers, "Down!," and those logs are dropped down to where he wants them set. When he says, "down" and the teamster unhooks the trip, and down comes the logs. And when the top-loader says "down easy," they'd even put the logs down easy. When the top-loader said, "Come back down." Or, "down," the logs are dropped. Just as soon as they are dropped, the teamster unhooks that chain from the cross haul team. When the cross haul team hears that chain drop on the ground they turn right around naturally, and come back. They're trained for that. They'd make a turn right around and spot themselves ready for another hook.

If they didn't re-spot themselves on their own, the top-loader says, "come back," and those horses would swing right around and come right back and wait for another hook. And they would come back just that quick too. Sometimes the fast ones would run back. Soon as the horses start running the teamster just runs right with them. I've seen that. Everything was just like it was automatic. He's ready when they set themselves again, and he grabs that chain hook end and hollers, "Ahead!"

Sometimes the horses would get so used to that work that one of them maybe would fall asleep a little bit. Then maybe teamster would call 'em, "Tim, Jerry, or Dick." He'd holler, "Dick": and Dick would back right up -- because he knows there's somebody watching him. But all the while he's still listening. While they are working they're blind. They have blinds on their eyes.

That's how they loaded those flatcars. They loaded cars after cars. Logs ten, twelve tier high were stacked and tied and shipped many miles to lumber mills in the olden days. They were big logs too. The railroads would stand full with those loads.

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Men loading logs on flat cars, Deer River.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1915
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.33 r29 Negative No. 28820

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Logging locomotive hauling log train, John H. Kaiser camp.
Photograph Collection, 1909
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.33 p13 Negative No. 5000

 

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Engine Twelve carrying load of logs.
Photograph Collection, 1915
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.33 r27 Negative No. 28830

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Long line of railroad cars loaded with logs.
Creator: Arthur A. Richardson
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.33 r22 Negative No.

It's fun to stand there and watch them. You wonder how these horses are trained, how these logs move. Now-a-days they have jammers. There are big chains there again. Now-a-days it takes a lot of the logs to make a thousand feet. Now-a-days it takes three, four logs to make a hundred feet -- maybe even five or six. Really! They're just like match sticks now. When I'm talking about cross hauling with horses, those logs were timber, the first saw-logs that came up. These trees would run the scale. Sometimes we had, and we still have, timber standing in the forestry lands that runs a thousand feet to a tree. So that's plenty of wood in there. And there were lots of them big trees, years ago.

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Men loading logs onto wooden sled.
Creator: Arthur A. Richardson
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.31 r72 Negative No. 28851

Pretty near every tree held a thousand feet. Why it didn't take long to fit a million feet out. A million feet of logs, you know, that's quite a bit, quite a bit of timber. After awhile the trees come to seventy-five thousand and eighty-thousand feet a load. The scale of the trees kept cutting down because the original timber was running out. There then came a time when it was difficult to get a thousand feet out cause it takes so much of the overall timber to make a thousand feet. Timber was well-scaled years ago. It was beautiful timber. It was fun logging.

The most fun was going on the spring drives. The cold winter appeared and dissolved, and then the logging drives came in the spring and summer. That helped. In the winter -- if they weren't hauling logs on bunks or flatcars -- lumberjacks would land their timber right on the ice. When the ice went away all they had to do was take the logs in to what mill they wanted to take them.

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Logs piled on Burntside Lake near Ely, awaiting the spring thaw,
Oliver Iron Mining Company Camp number 16.
Creator: William F. Roleff (1873-1943)
Photograph Collection, 1912
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.41 p28 Negative No. 3475-B

 

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Men and horses decking logs at landing, Split Rock River, to await the drive.

Men and horses decking logs at landing, Split Rock River, to await the drive.
Photograph Collection, 1907
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location no. HD5.41 r26 Negative no. 79175

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Landing place and crew for logs preparatory to the
drive, White Earth Indian reservation.
Photograph Collection, 1920
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.41 r27 Negative No. 6415-A

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Logs loaded on the ice on the North Branch of Rapid River.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1919
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.41 r32 Negative No.

 

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Logs on Littlefork River ready for spring thaw.
Photograph Collection, 1937
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.41 p57 Negative No. 25604

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Horse-drawn sled, White Earth Indian Reservation.
Creator: Robert G. Beaulieu
Photograph Collection, 1920
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.31 r67 Negative No. 6412-A

 

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Lumberjack and log sled.
Creator: William F. Roleff (1873-1943)
Photograph Collection, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.31 p96 Negative No. 3522-B

If they operated on a big scale, with so many thousand feet, so many million feet, and if they wanted to take them to Grand Rapids, these logs were stamped "Canaday Clemet" (XXX??) Initials were carved on the side of a log. All the logs were carved.(16) There was a man at the landing with a hatchet just carving "Canaday Clemet." (XXX??) That's how all of them put stamps on their logs, and you wouldn't touch a log that had an initial on it. Each company put their own initial on logs by cutting them in with a chisel or hatchet. Those logs were cut by the company that owned the logs, and the company hired a man to carve little initials into each one. All the man had to do was to carve initials on the side of the log to show that it belonged to that company. "Canada & Clement," "Simpson Logs," and all that was initialed on the logs.

In the spring there came a drive, a breakup. In the spring, when the ice was breaking up, we all got ready for a drive. The children, the mother and children, stayed home and took care of the place while the men-folks went on the drives. Some lumberjacks, of course, stayed in camp all winter. As soon as the stream opened up, the logs would be ready to move, and the lumberjacks were all ready to move the logs down the stream. A lot of Indians and White people liked to drive logs.

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A load of logs breaks through the ice.
Creator: Arthur A. Richardson
Photograph Collection, 1890
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.31 p15 Negative No. 59080

We had big drives in through the rivers. We had drives along the current of the river. The drives were log drives along the rivers. There was timber booming(17) those days. They'd boom the logs across the Winnibigosh(18) with a boat, then they'd bring them into the river, the Mississippi. These logs would jam up there because they'd put a boom down stream until they got all the logs on the tailend ready to move. When they were ready, they opened the boom and moved on down the river.

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Logs in boom five miles west of Cass Lake.
C. C. Andrews Photograph Collection, 1904
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. Collection I.99.83 Negative No. 11406-A

 

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Logs in a boom on Cass Lake.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1920
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.43 r5 Negative No. 165

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A flat bottom boat, known as an"Alligator", used in
booming and towing logs, Virginia and Rainy Lake Company.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1928
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.43 r2 Negative No. 63268

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Northern Mill Company's boat and view of the thoroughfare looking northeast.

Northern Mill Company's boat and view of the thoroughfare looking northeast.
Photographer: Clinton Johnson
Photograph Collection, 1900
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location no. HD5.41 p14 Negative no. 15863

As the boom flowed down the river, the logs would float down, and the lumberjacks kept the logs a-going. The lumberjacks would walk the river banks and push these logs out. Down the river they'd go. They went along all day long like that. Ya, they'd do that all day long.

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"Lazoo Brothers", three reservation Indians who were
log drive crew members, cleaning up and refloating

logs hung up on banks.
Creator: Carl H. Henrikson
Photograph Collection, 1923
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.41 p74 Negative No. 56736

When I came home from Tower school my folks were gardening on Leech and Mississippi Forks.(19) When we were gardening in the spring we'd see the logs a-going down the river. Then big log drives would come by. In spring the big drives would come through here, past my house. Sometimes the river was jammed up clear down to the forks. You couldn't get through with a boat, hardly. They'd block it up, oh, for miles. There'd be five-, six-mile jams. The river would plug up there. After it plugged up with logs, you'd see the drivers coming through to move them on.

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Log drive, east end of Savannah Portage.
Photograph Collection, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.41 r56 Negative No.

One thing of pollution in those days was the thousands and thousands of logs that went down the river. On a hot day the pitch would come out of them. The pitch would drip down in the water, ya. The shoreline was polluted with pitch. It was not too heavy to notice, to bother you, but it was heavy enough to pollute the shoreline. There's turpentine in the pine you know. And that's where we began to see the crop getting shorter.(20)

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Loaded sled at Price Brothers camp number five, Deer Lake. Load scaled at 12,490 feet.

Loaded sled at Price Brothers camp number five, Deer Lake.
Load scaled at 12,490 feet.
Photographer: Brown
Photograph Collection 2/1904
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location no. Runk 71 Negative no. Runk71

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Drivers trying to break log jam.
Photograph Collection, 1890
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.44 p32 Negative No. 19820

These logs, I remember, went to Deer Lake. They would put another boom across the main channel and shoot them into Deer Lake. There was a big sawmill at Deer River and that's where they'd tear them up. I remember when right down to the point was nothing but pine sawdust. That was at Deer River Landing.

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Sawmill at Deer River.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1900
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.5 r14 Negative No. 16697

 

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Deer River saw mill.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.5 r43 Negative No. 28822

 

As I heard, some of them logs went clean through to Grand Rapids. And maybe even further on down the line. Quite a ways down there were different lumber companies buying. But geez, there were a lot of logs went through there.

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Paper mill logs, Grand Rapids.
Photograph Collection, 1920
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.5 p85 Negative No. 10593-A

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Logs floating in Mississippi River.
Photograph Collection, 1912
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.41 r61 Negative No. 28817

As they drove the logs down the river along the Mississippi a lot of lumberjacks, a lot of timbermen, would walk on the bank of the river. There was a regular trail along the bank of the river. They all had pike poles which they used to shove the logs away from the shore. And they had a camp floating down the river. This camp was built in a great-big flat-bottom boat they called wah-ni-gan.

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Lumbermen's camp, Pokegama Lake.
Photograph Collection, 1904
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. MI8.1 p10 Negative No. 6952-A

Wah-ni-gan, or ah-quah-ni-gan, that's camp "shelter," a "shedding from the water." QIs-Kah-Oh-ga-mIg that's "camp home," too -- like a logging camp. They always had wah-ni-gans, or cook-rafts, on the drives as they were pushing the timber to the mills. The wah-ni-gIn was ahead in the drive. They had a cook in there and each lumberjack had a sleeping place in the camp. They had two cooks in there at times. And they had men cooks in the camps too. You had this sleeping place in the camp, in the wah-ni-gan, and you had plenty to eat at that time: bacon and eggs, baked beans -- anything that lumberjacks should eat.

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Coming down with the logs on a wanigan, Mississippi River.
Photograph Collection, 1900
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.41 p61 Negative No. 24806

They have good cooking, by somebody who knows how to prepare food for a labor man. They cook whatever the lumberjack wants to eat, and they give them plenty to eat. And we got all we wanted to eat in logging camps. And they give them coffee time too. You could go in the wah-ni-gan and help yourself to cookies, cake, pie, or anything you want. By the time a lumberjack's able to work in the woods, he's able to wear it off, and he's a man because he's eating good. Because they eat the proper food, they can stand the work. They have food that's rich enough and heavy enough for the lumberjacks. That's what kept them up without catching colds.

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Interior of a logging camp.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1921
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 r36 Negative No.

They also had woolen clothes which kept them warm. They all had short pants, but they were dressed in wool to keep warm. Oftentimes they'd work in the cold water. They'd jump in the water, they'd jump out, but it didn't bother them because they had substantial food to strengthen their blood and body. They had power enough to work, and they weren't run down. And they'd breathe that fresh air and they're out in the cold.

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Two "sleeping" wanigans temporarily pulled up to the bank.
Photograph Collection, 1922
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.41 p80 Negative No. 56735

At the end of the day they know they've done something for their health and they know they're going to be well paid for it. There was good money in driving, and they were fed good in the wah-ni-gans, in the houseboats. They slept in there too. They would eat and sleep in the houseboat, in the wah-ni-gan.

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Log drivers on the Big Fork River.
Photograph Collection, 1912
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.41 p3 Negative No. 896

The lumberjacks were quick as a cat on a log, floating on along the river. They stood on one log and rolled it. They'd jump from one log to another, just to keep the logs a-going, with a pike pole on their shoulder. When they would cross the river on those logs all they had to balance with was a pike pole or a can-hook. They would balance with that. They could walk across anywhere on a log, on that "tree-in-the-water" -- as we called them in Indian. Once in a while they would roll a log just to see how fast they could go, then they'd jump on another log, and jump onto the wah-ni-gan. They were so clever. They wore cork shoes on their feet. That's why they could do it. That's how they could stick on a log.

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Man log rolling with pole.
Photograph Collection, 1925
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. GV3.66 p6 Negative No. 74431

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Lumberjack working with floating logs.
Photograph Collection, 1905
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.41 r16 Negative No. 9485

 

The "Chippewa boots" were the greatest boots for lumberjacks -- they were one of the greatest. But on the drive the lumberjacks wore what they called "cork shoes." The cork shoes were kind of high priced, but they were waterproof; they were water-preserved shoes. It was a good shoe. I wore them too. I liked to wear them. They would protect your feet. The cork shoes had kind of a high heel. Otherwise, if you had shoes with thin soles and low heels, you couldn't stand on the logs. They were a good shoe. And when they walked in the dining room you could hear those corks chewing up the floor of the wah-ni-gan -- su-it, su-it. The wah-ni-gan was made with a pine floor and those cork shoes would tear into it as they walked. Oh gee, that was a wicked-looking bottom that they had on the soles of their feet!

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Two lumberjacks spending part of their Sunday repairing their shoes.
Photograph Collection, 1935
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 p189 Negative No. 68826

And when they came to town they walked in a joint(21) or went into a store with those cork shoes on. They'd walk on that pine floor in the store, and anywhere you went you could see those little slivers on the floor.

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Lumberjack looking at a shirt in the camp store, Pine Island area, Big Falls.
Photograph Collection, 1900
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 p98 Negative No. 20724

They just walked in. People didn't mind that. And when us kids would go along in the store we had to be very careful where we stepped because we were barefoot. We feared we'd get slivers. But if we were careful where we stepped we would be all right. They picked up and swept up after the lumberjacks. They held down these slivers on the floor by sweeping it and cleaning it. So that'd give us a chance to walk around and buy candy. But when we were kids with barefeet we were glad to get out of there.

Stories!

As I say, they would go in public places with their cork shoes. We didn't mind the lumberjacks walkin' around with corks on their shoes. Lumber was so cheap. They could change the floor anytime they wanted to. We had lots of lumber.

Those cork shoes had a lot to do. When the lumberjacks came to a cement sidewalk, when they came to a cement porch or something, you could see sparks on the bottom of their soles. They'd make sparks by kicking around.

They had a lot of fun with those cork shoes.

Those lumberjacks, the ones on a drive, used to stay on a drive 'till the 4th of July. They'd stay 'till the drive was over, but it usually was over by the 4th of July. When they completed the drives they got paid off. Then they'd come in with their stake and would they celebrate! Then they came home and they got ready for the winter.

Them days they could still celebrate with a little alcoholic drink.(22) And many of them did that. But groups -- communities, you might as well say -- would also celebrate together. They had a good time, them days. We all had a good time when we got together. And when they got together lumberjacks liked to contest one another to see who was best at doing what.

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Men log rolling.
Creator: John Runk (1878-1964)
Photograph Collection, 1921
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. Runk 1564 Negative No. Runk1564

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Log Rolling.
Creator: Anonymous
Art Collection, Oil, 1900
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. AV1981.132.6 Negative No. 40594

We have an old timer here in Ball Club who was one of the best on the logs. He liked to roll logs. He was on the logs all the day long, and he could drive! He likes drives. He was a good man, Charlie Bebeaux. He rolled logs in contests and celebrations. Log rolling was the greatest thing at a celebration. It was something to see!

He'd go to Big Fork and roll logs with anybody. There were good log rollers in those days, about 1918-1919, and he would roll with the best of them. He'd roll logs just for a $10 prize, or something. They'd give him money for an exhibition, on how these logrollers done it. That's something.

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Log rolling.
Creator: Chester Sawyer Wilson
Photograph Collection, 1900
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. GV3.66 p7 Negative No. 31948

Two of them on one log would go out to the deep water, and they'd roll. Boy, I tell you when they'd fall off somebody's got to swim! When the log was rolling they could stop it quick too. And when two of them are on a log they try to roll one another off. One guy is rolling to beat heck and he'll stop and jump over to the other side and reverse it. And they kept trying that. Oh, that was fun to watch them! They were so quick on a log. Rolling was nothing to them. They had the action. They had practice. And it was a lot of fun for the audience to watch them on the contest.

When they were going to celebrate in town, after the drive, they would take off their cork shoes. They always had dress shoes, you know. They would buy themselves nice oxfords, nice dress shoes, in those days. They'd hang their cork shoes at home until they'd go back on a drive. Those cork shoes cost money in them days. They cost about eight dollars. So they took good care of them.

In the olden days, about 1910, '12, '15, money was so hard to get. Then money wasn't so plentiful, but there was always plenty of work. And the value of money was there. The money wasn't so plentiful, but there was always work to work for the money in those days, in my times. You could always get on a job, but sometimes it was for less money. I suppose then, at that time, they got paid, oh we'll say, around fifteen or twenty dollars a month for cutting brush or for common labor. That was a little before I went to work in the woods, so, to be honest about it, I wouldn't exactly know firsthand. But whatever it was, we didn't think that it was too bad, because these were hard times to make a few dollars. You didn't make much, but you always had a chance to work, and if you stayed in a logging camp they would board you. They'd board you, but you still got your credit, a dollar a day -- more or less. Later on, when I first started working in the woods, some of them starting off got only twenty-six dollars a month. That's what we got for brushing and doing roadwork in the lumber camps. And when we stayed through the winter, we got better pay. We got pretty good pay in the winter. Oh, I'll say we got thirty dollars a month to work in the winter, besides a good place to stay.

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Lumberjacks washing clothes in the winter in northern Minnesota.
Photographyer: John Runk
Photograph Collection, 1907
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. Runk 237 Negative No. Runk237

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Washing clothes at Camp Number Five, near Deer River.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 r59 Negative No. 12909

But we had a dollar then that was worth value then. And, after all, there were logging camps where we could work if we wanted to, and many of us were in them logging.

When my friends and I got big enough we went to the camps and made twenty-six dollars a month. When I started in the camps, about 1918, we earned twenty-six dollars a month, with board and room. One time I worked for twenty-six dollars a month cutting roads for timber. The was way back in the 1919, '20s. Finally, about 1926 some of them got thirty, thirty-five dollars a month. That was good for families. Those that had bigger families tried hard to make it better. They tried for better pay. They got good at it in the woods and stuck with it. They made good money.

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Building a road in Minnesota.
Photograph Collection, 1905
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HE3.81 p78 Negative No. 29079

That's how we got by.

Some of them only got thirty dollars a month in the olden days. I remember I worked for only thirty dollars a month, twenty-eight at one time, twenty-six at first. I had thirty dollars a month. Still, they had a pretty good check when they came out of the logging camps, because the dollar was valued as a full dollar in their country. Now there isn't much valuation in the dollar. The price of things now is high. Now you may have lots of money all right, but it sure goes fast when you begin to buy now. But thirty dollars a month was a lot of money in those days. They could live on thirty dollars a month them days. In them days there wasn't much taxes, or no taxes at all, on a lot of stuff they bought. And the dollar was valued. It was a full dollar those days. There was a difference in life. There was a difference in what you buy.

I used to buy "Home Run" cigarettes for ten cents a pack, and they weren't as "watered

down" as the cigarettes are now. That was about '13, '14. That's where I began to learn to smoke. Then I would quit for a while. I was too busy working in the woods and I didn't care to have a cigarette in my mouth. The timber was too precious.

They were good days, those days, in a way. The value of money was all there, and I think the people did pretty good. The road contractors paid well, the railroad paid well, logging paid well. They all paid off too, at a certain time every two weeks. And those people that stuck to their jobs and stayed on the work all winter, they're the ones that made the money. They stayed in the camp all winter, and only took a little of their money to take home, or send home to their families. That was a good deal for them. A lot of that was going on in what was the frontiers of northern Minnesota.

That was the main way of life in the frontiers of northern Minnesota -- outside of trapping. The trappers made good money, too, by selling their fur and everything. The fur price wasn't much, but there was lot of game. The answer was there. They had homesteads, little farms, too. They had little potato patches and gardens, and they grew corn. That helped them lots.

So, I think it was a pretty good time, in a way. But money was hard to get. When the homesteaders had that money, they were careful how they spent it. The harder it is to get cash, the harder you make up your mind to spend that dollar.(23) Sometimes you like to keep that dollar in your hand in case you really do need it, but sometimes you invest that dollar for some chickens or for something around your place. It all depends on how they use their money. But they had money them days. They had cash -- and secret pockets. So, they got along fine. Well, that's all right. That part's all right.

Road contractors, the railroad, and logging all paid about the same in those days. They compare about the same -- for laborers. I think the railroad did well. Railroad companies paid well, but you have to wait for your pay. One thing about the railroad is that you'll have to work 'till payday. And when you want to quit, you sign off then, at payday. On the railroad they had regular paydays, which was satisfactory to the poor people, or to the lumberjacks, and when they stayed on the job they got their check on a certain date. And when they quit they got their check. And also the timberworkers got their checks.

How much you were paid depends on what company you work for. It's all done by a good man who works for the company. There's one who adjusts your pay. Maybe there are a few men who just put in their time -- but you can't fool the logger, you can't fool the farmer, you can't fool the timberworker. And everything that you do in labor is reported. The boss is the one that adjusts your pay. He adjusts your valuation, the price the company pays you. About 1918-'19 twenty-six dollars a month was the going price for common labor. I don't know how much the boss would make, I wouldn't know. I think the boss gets just the same amount as the workers. He may get a little more because he has to run here and there to see the crew. But he had two or three helpers assigned to him, so he didn't have that much extra to take care of. Ho, boy!

Some of the lumberjacks also cut cedar and sold it on their own. Those were telephone poles and cedar posts. Cedar posts were in big demand for the farm area. The homesteaders were trying to curb their animals. They put a fence around the few cattle they had. They had barb wire and everything. They sold some posts for that, ya! They had a lot of extra posts. They would get, oh, a couple, two or three cents for a post. They just went and got it. It was there! It was there, as a gift.

Later on in years, quite a few years later, they also sold the timber to the railroad company. They hewed a log out and sold it, and that was good money, about 25 cents a log. It was 25 cents! for a stick eight feet long. It was pine, Norway, or any kind -- including cedar and tamarack. They sold the best lumber then to the railroad companies. What's good, they sold to the railroad.

Later on, loggers also did some piece-cutting on Forestry contracts. When I started piece-cutting, later on, we got two dollars and a half a thousand(24) for white pine. We got two and a half a thousand, but that was later on. I've seen times, in the olden days, when they made seventy-five cents a thousand. Yuh, in the old days, that's how hard it was to get the money.

Do you know how much a thousand feet was? The trees were so big those days that I don't believe you cut two trees to get a thousand feet. Here and there one white pine or Norway would scale a thousand feet! It was good clear timber, and it was nothing to get a thousand feet with a good saw.

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Lumberjacks sawing tree into logs.
Creator: Arthur A. Richardson
Photograph Collection, 1905
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.22 r19 Negative No. 70015

 

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The unidentified men sawing a log in the woods.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.22 r27 Negative No. 28823

 

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Alger Smith & Company loggers cutting log with long saw.
Creator: William F. Roleff (1873-1943)
Photograph Collection, 1916
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. Album 95 Negative No. 3450-B

 

We worked as a partners-ship. Two people in a day -- in the days of the original Norway and white pine -- could cut about, about, two or three thousand feet -- that's given room for exaggeration. I don't know. I don't know exactly. I'm forgetting lots. I have too much on my head to think way back on some things.

"Boy it must-a been good days," they ask me.

"It was good days. On the other hand you had to work for what you got." If you got five-hundred feet a tree, let's say, you cut two trees and you had enough for your partner's share. If you cut three or four trees, he got his $2.50 a day, and you got yours. Yea. If you get two and a half a thousand, and you get, let's say, four trees for the two of you, that's five dollars a day. Ya. Five dollars. He get's two and a half; I get two and a half. At that time, later on, we would be making sixty, seventy-five dollars a month, if we were getting that many trees. But that was later on. See, they kept raising what they were paying.

It would take you a couple hours anyhow, maybe an hour and a half to cut a tree. And then, we had to stump them by hand, chop the limbs. But in those later days we didn't have to get them out. That was up to the logger. He had teams for that. No, we just cut by the thousand. They dragged the logs out with teams.

But in actual fact that two thousand feet is poor scale, compared to the White loggers. There were good Norwegians and Swedes that knew how to sharpen the saw. And with their saws they sure could make six or seven thousand feet a day! But they had reaches. Geeze! They had eight foot saws, and saws seven-and-half feet. Geeze. Geeze . . . , that was bright!

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Man sharpening saw at Kileen & Company lumber camp.
Creator: William F. Roleff (1873-1943)
Photograph Collection, 1914
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. Album 95 Negative No. 26190

 

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Lumberjacks filing and setting the saw.
Creator: Arthur A. Richardson
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1905
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.22 r20 Negative No. 37997

I believe nowadays, for a thousand feet, they probably get six or five dollars. That's six or five dollars a thousand. But now, in this day and age, so much is taken out(25) that it goes back to two and a half a thousand again.

 

That's because that tax came in. A lot is taken out now for taxes. They tax everything now. That's because we have a lot of things now to take care of. By taking out the taxes, the Government takes the cream out of the timber, out of the growing nature. But that cream drops back to the local people, you might as well say, and every drop counts. It helps to improve the next generation by giving them better schools and better education. We should take the cream of the country, the cream of the area you live in. We lost a lot of money by not taxing this labor, by not taxing the timber that went out. The lumberjack got the full value, full pay, and many left this country without putting in something for the schools, for the public, for the future, for re-conservation. They didn't put in anything for the next generation.

But now they have that tax. I wish we had that long ago. The country wouldn't have suffered so much. There wouldn't have been so much pressure on taxes later on. We started in a little bit late, but it wasn't too late. Still, it works out good, you know. I think it helps to better this part of the country by not taking the cream and just leaving the skim milk here. Now we have some cream that drops back.

The Government gives us just enough to be satisfied with. But that's going to help the country. The taxes are dropping back a little bit. If you want to continue working, you have to continue taxing. In that way the Federal and State continue making money on both sides. Then the money that comes back is a help to the whole area. It helps the whole area. That's a good thing.

I began to realize that there's lots of truth in there. I was watching that all the time, so I know. Everybody else had studied on that and watched that too. We are learning all the time how to live. We're not too late. And by taking an interest in living, fishing, sporting, the sporting way of life, by taking an interest in life, you're going to begin to ask, "How are we going to make it after the timber, the minerals, the elk are gone?" Well, maybe they'll improve the tax, maybe they'll press the tax a little more to pay. That's all right because the wages are raised more. Your hours are doubled now. They're more than doubled from my time. And they're getting big money now, bigger money, so that's a great improvement. They get lots of money now. I know some people that get ten, twelve, fifteen dollars a day now. Some of them think that's a lot. That's big money.

Now you're able to pay taxes. We weren't able to pay taxes on thirty dollars because we didn't really have it. We only got thirty dollars a month, but I suppose we could have been able to pay taxes. The price of food was right down then, but now the price of food is way up, the cost of living is way up. Now with the living up they should make a lot of money, and they should tax them because there are more schools now, and necessary money has to be spent in the area. Now they say the prices of everything are high. They are high, but I think they think they're making more now -- even with the taxes taken out.

Now they make big money. It took us a whole month to make forty dollars, and now, as I hear, some of them make thirty, forty dollars a day in the mines. Now people get twenty, twenty-five, thirty, forty dollars a day!

But money is too easy to come by now, and people are paid so big that I don't think some of the people know the value of money. Now they have beautiful cars and they spend their money to beautify their cars. Sure, it looks good, shiny and everything, and when you get in one of them you feel big, you feel proud. But when you go places in those high speed cars, you don't know whether you're going to come back or not. Then probably they'll start spinning, showing off. Those cars end up to be just another hardship. How they spend that money on cars! When you got a car you might try to save, and you try to figure out how much you're going to save, but the first thing you know, you have your money spent on your car. Who's fault is that?

They buy; eveybody'd buy. Pretty soon there's a city, a town, a little town. Pretty soon it's run cooperatively.(26) Everything was coming. The horses were in the pasture and pretty soon cars came. It's fun to drive a car over rough roads, but the roads are getting better. Pretty soon their cars wear out 'cause they don't take care of their cars. They last a long time if you take care of them, but when they make them go continually they don't last. Their car breaks down and they buy another one, and it takes money to buy it. But they had to take care of the horses or they wouldn't have any horse. See the difference? The old man was watching, the mother was watching: that horse has got to be taken care of. But that's not the way it is with the car. All they have to do is put in gas, put on new tires, and what you put in comes to money. You have to pay. Instead of working out there with a horse and bringing in logs, wood, anything, plowing, cultivating, and doing your chores, when the cars came, everybody said, "Let's go. Let's go. Where? Where? Where?"

They left home. They didn't want to be home. They wanted to make money. They thought, "There are better jobs over there. There are bigger jobs." They didn't have a home.(27) They didn't want a home. They wanted to make big money. They'd buy a place in town. Pretty soon they sell, "We'll go to another place." See? They thought, "We'll go to a different state and make bigger money." I think there were some that did well, good. They stayed put and hung on to their money. That was good. They know how to do it. But those that were reckless and didn't care, didn't do very well. Think of the future of the children. The children behind you is the great thing. You're responsible for your family. They have to eat. They have to have a place to stay. Stay there(28) 'till they get on their feet. They'll respect you for that. They'll respect you. I see that.

A long time ago in Duluth, an old timer -- he was a lumberjack too -- he was telling me that his salary, this thirty dollars a month that he was getting, would someday be nothing. We called him Mun-dam-In. He was from Wisconsin. It was about 1923 when I talked to him. I talked to him for a short time only, but we talked about everything. Of course even then some of us got forty-five and fifty to sixty dollars a month, it all depends on what type of work you were doing. This old man, the old man said that forty-five dollars would be nothing.

Not too long ago I did reading in a book(29) write-up they call The Republic or something like that. That's quite a book-prediction. It's a prediction of what's coming. It's really the same as the old man was telling me, right on the spot, in Duluth, quite a number of years ago. It's a prediction that the country is getting in the hole, each and every one of the United States is dropping in the hole every year. And to pay that debt that the United States is dropping in, each and every child will have to pay about, what did he say?, I think they figure that the labor would have to pay about forty-five to fifty dollars a day for every person.

I said to old Mun-dam-In in Duluth, "Oh, it'll never be. What are you talking about!?"

Well, what he said, that's just what I read now! They predict that more money is needed to make the country come back partly anyhow. They say now that we're so far in the hole that even if they get labor up it will take two or three generations until they will be able to get on the level -- that is if we don't go any further in the hole. But the country is still sinking in with our security. Value of money is going down. Boy the ways things are now!

They predicted that. The old timers knew enough to study that and read that. Mun-dam-In was telling me that, and I said, "It'll never happen!" So now I begin to see things. I see that it's true. I think it'll go up higher too. I wouldn't be surprised. Maybe I won't see the time, but maybe there'll be a day that people will be getting a hundred dollars a day to get us up on the level and to pay up debts and make that black and white(30) in Washington.

But still, the government's got a lot of overhead to pay. They have employees and all that. Where they going to get that money to spend? The people that's paying taxes have to pay it. The State and the Federal have to have tax money to pay their employees. The people's governing body of the monies has to pay that.

We all study that. We all see that. We don't really study that, but we think of it. We ask, "How is it going to be? How is it going to be in the next few years? How is that?" We ask ourselves. I know many, many are asking, "What is it going to be?" Many, many of them ask themselves, "I wonder how it'll be the next ten, fifteen years, twenty years." It keeps changing all the time.

That's the way I do things. I just sit and wonder about a lot of the times from a-way back, and about what life is going to be like for the little ones following behind.

In the old days, the lumberjacks didn't care for the money the way they do now, because the living was right there before them from natural foods and game. I've seen them cut timber, and you couldn't walk over the timber they laid on the ground.(31) And it was all trimmed up and all ready to go. They kept one or two skidders a-going all the time. But even then, mostly -- even with all of that timber a'flying -- they really made 'er by hunting, raising a couple cows and chickens, and growing their potatoes and garden patches. Especially the Finns.

But, on the other side of it, even in the old-time timber days some Indians could pick up a few dollars here and there by working special deals. Ol' Charlie Michaud was good on that. Besides what he'd get rolling logs in community celebrations, Ol' Charlie made a good dollar here and there working his boat and motor.

Log jams were always a problem in them log-driving days. One time they hired Charlie Michaud to clear a log jam up by John S. Smith's place. Charlie worked in the logging camps when he was about fourteen, fifteen, somewhere along in there. He was very active. He's about the same age as I am, but older, maybe a little older, than me -- I know, he's three or four years older than me. He has more experience than I have, and knows how to do things. Charlie married my half-sister. Her name was Rose Nason, and they were both the same age -- pred'near. He had a nice women, a beautiful lady, but she passed away. She was a nice lady.

'Course I only heard about Charlie Michaud and the log jam by John S. Smith's.(32) I didn't watch it. Charlie told me about that later on. But I know the logan(33) where he cleared the logs. My grandfather lived up there. I used to trap a lot, and I went to that logan. I saw the old logan filled up with logs -- cedar, and rafts,(34) and peeled stuff. I thought, "Jesus, how they gonna get those logs out?"

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Tail end of a log jam on the Little Fork River.
Photograph Collection, 1920
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.44 p9 Negative No.

There was an outlet to the logan. The outlet was about, oh, say, six feet wide -- where it shoulda been about fourteen to sixteen feet wide. The heavy snow and the ice break-up and the spring streams pushed the water down with lots of dirt. The dirt was caving in from the side of the river and the quick-sand had filled up the outlet of this logan.

Well, the big log buyer went up there and saw this. He had orders on the posts and cedar. This was a cedar drive, and he had orders to send out. He had money, lots of money, tied up on this timber, and he didn't know how to get these logs out. He had hired quite a few around there to help him before. Quite a few would tow logs with their launches. Some of 'em looked at this logan, but they didn't free the logs. They didn't know how. It was too much of a job to dig that outlet open.

He was pretty sharp, this Michaud. He's still living. He was very smart around the rivers and on a drive. That's all he did was tow. The 4th of July was coming -- it was late in the spring. Usually the drive was done by the 4th.

This buyer said to Charlie, "I got a bunch of timber up the river. I tried to get this guy to get it out with his launch, but he wouldn't take the contract. I offered him good money."

"Well," Charlie said, "what'll you offer?"

"So much. So much. Could you help with that Charlie?"

"Ah, that's nothing," he said, "that could be simple." Red Wing Motor Co.  logo

Charlie had a good boat with a single-cylinder Redwing motor.

The boat was about 20-22 feet long. It was wide though. It had lots of power. It was a pretty good size boat. It was a launch, a towing boat.

"So," Charlie said, "I'll take the job. I'll get the timber down. When do you want it?"

"As soon as possible."

That's about a 12-, 14-mile drive -- a 12-, 14-mile drive, anyhow.(35)

"I'll go and get that timber out for you."

"Charlie, how are you going to get that out?"

"I'll get it out."

He never told anybody how he was going to do it. He went by himself up there. Gas was cheap those days. They let him have four or five cans of gas. He took it along, and he took his tent up.

When he got up to the job, he knew what he was doing. From the main stream he just turned the boat around to the outlet and anchored the boat. After he had a lunch, he says, after he had a lunch,(36) he started the boat and just kept that motor on idle. The propeller began digging into the quick-sand, sending the loose water and sand through the blockage. It wasn't hurting the motor because it was idling.

It was stirring up that quick-sand. The current of the propeller had stirred up that sand and that sand was going to the main stream and opening up a channel.

After awhile it was wide enough to bring his launch through the outlet. He got through on one side and he said, "I could run it forward." Then he'd go back and forth through the channel. As soon as he got to the deep water on the other side, he'd turn around and come forward again. Then he'd come forward and anchor it backwards again.

He turned the motor around and started to dig the channel wider. He sat there and rolled a cigarette once in a while. After awhile the motor and the propeller of the launch had done the work. He opened the channel up wide enough for a raft to go through. Those rafts must have been about, oh, say, about twelve feet wide. He opened the outlet twelve, fourteen feet, and he dug it deep enough.

The water started rushing from back of the rock, under the rafts. Water started going in and coming back through the opening to the mainstream. So Charlie got busy. "Well, I think this is deep enough for the first rafts to go through. I'll just hook on to them."

He turned his boat around, backed his boat up to the raft, and hooked the rope onto the rafts he wanted to tow. He hooked his rope up and cut off three or four rafts from the bunch. See, they line up the rafts and tie them together. He cut off three rafts.

"If I get these rafts through this," he said, "then I'll drag the rest. I'll force them with the launch tow. By moving the water, some more of this dirt that's standing up will go."

He had a powerful launch. He skidded them out. The first raft went through with all of those pole-length logs. The first raft went through and started to hit the main current. That main current of the stream gave him more power with his launch, and the second raft came out of there like nothing. And there was nothing to the third one. By doing that he opened up the stream and all that water rushed in. The water leveled off in that backstream, in that back-shot to the mainstream. The water level was there, so he hooked on to more rafts -- five or six more.

He let the first three rafts go down the stream by themselves -- which was easily done as they go by the current. He kept working on these others. He got some more out and sent them off down the river, down the stream. After he left the rafts out of the lagoon there, they had about twelve or fourteen miles to go, and he didn't worry about them until he caught up with them. He turned them loose and caught up with them later on. They followed like a cross-chain on a sled -- they followed the "rut."

But he got so many out he thought some of these rafts might plug up down the stream or get hung up. But they didn't, they followed the mainstream all the way.

It was getting late so he went downstream and anchored a few. Then he re-lined them again. He took, oh, say, six, seven, eight, and chained them together. That is, he wired them together, so that they were behind one another. He wired them as a cross chain, with what they called that "booming wire." If you cross chain it, the rafts will be flexible to make the bend. You just have to be sure that you don't tie them too short.

After he got all the rafts into the river, he had to come into the Ball Club River off of the mainstream of the Mississippi and Leech Rivers.

"How you gonna do that? How are you gonna swing in on the Y?"

Again he shortened the rafts up to six -- up to the river width.

He drove a big anchor post in the meadow bottom. OK. He drove that anchor post in on the bank of the river. And there he wrapped the bailing-wire around that. He took the first raft and tied it to that post. The first raft had to meet that "Y" on the upstream again, where it was coming into the Ball Club River, off the main river.

He anchored the first one. The second one followed and at that time he jumped on the rafts. And as fast as they came he just drove the pike pole in them and hooked them together. They all followed in line, and they were out of the way for the other boats.

W$h!!

It took a long time for his boat to pull the first raft in, and all the while the second one was pushing. All of those rafts formed a line down the stream, and he was pulling them up the stream to get into Ball Club River. That's where he was taking them to. And he took them into Ball Club Lake, and right there in the yard he pulled them out and loaded them -- years ago. They had a mill there at Ball Club Lake and after he got them to the mill they pulled them up on the booms.

It took two or three weeks for Charlie to get those down there, but by the 4th of July he was done. He was a smart boy. Oh! he was a very smart Indian, Ol' Charlie. He was a river man. He got that timber down. He got his money too. Boy, that was a smart guy, eh?

Ol' Charlie!

He'd tell that story and then he'd laugh about it. He'd say, "That was nathing. That was easy money. It's just what you know that counts. That's what you get paid for -- for what you know. I tried it and I think it worked pretty good. I was figuring that the water would help me. The current of the water has done a lot of pushing for me. With me towing and the current pressure on these hanging back, I made it. When I started to move them, they all moved."

Boy, he's interesting!

He had the best suit after he got paid off. When he got paid off he had the best suit, the best clothes. He always dresses good anyhow.

The mill that Ol' Charlie took those logs to was by the Ball Club River, off of the Leech and Mississippi forks, by the Mississippi River there. There was another mill that I remember that was a mile and a half or two above the "Y" of the Leech and Mississippi Rivers. There was an old mill bottom there that was made somewhere in the early 1900's. They moved out by the time I was a young boy. Their work showed that they moved. There were sawdust piles there and everything. That was an early mill site, but they moved out before I got interested in who it was who had a mill there.

So I went down to the bridge by a "Y" where there was another mill. It might have been the same mill, or a mill owned by the same party, but I couldn't say. I didn't pay much attention to that in my younger time.

On the "Y" there was a big mill. It was south of Ball Club, about 2 l/2 - 3 miles, south of Willow Bridge. The mill set pred'near under the Ball Club bridge, pred'near under the bridge, on the side of the bridge. It was located on the south side of the "Y" of the Leech and Mississippi forks. That "Y" is a divide, a separation of the Leech and Mississippi Rivers. That was a good site for a mill too, at that time. I think you can still see the foundation there on the side of the bridge.

I would like to recollect who owned that mill, but I can't. Anyhow, it was a pretty good sized mill, for a stationary mill.(37) I used to remember when it was running. I would paddle by there in canoes and look at the conveyor that ran up about forty-five feet at a forty-five angle slope. The conveyor pulled the logs up into the mill. They worked on a big scale, with big pine logs. I remember them cutting three, four years there. Then I went to school,(38) and when I came back the mill was gone. I don't know what caused it to move. I never did ask. I had a dad, a step-dad, that was well-posted on what was going on along the river, but I never did ask him about that mill.

Talking about the river sites and mills, there was another bit of scenery there, out of the Ball Club River and into the Mississippi of Ball Club, that they called "Dumas." And there was a mill, a good sized mill, along the railroad tracks at Dumas. There was a big mill on Number Two highway by Ball Club River. That big mill site they called "Dumas Mill." I think they called it the "Dumas Mill." We called it "Dumas Mill" anyway. I think a young Dumas still lives there on that plantation. He's about as old as I am, and he could verify a lot of stuff that went on along the river, if I was sitting here with him. But he works for the gas company now and he hasn't much time to come.

He's a very nice boy. They had a store there at "Dumas Spur." They called it "Dumas Spur" later on. It was located by the bridge of Number Two highway. A railroad crosses there now. Where the railroad is now there was no railroad then. There was a mill site there. But Dumas Mill was only one of the buildings. There was also the Dumas Store, and, later on, a buyer's(39) office. The mill was on the south side, and they had a loading dock in there, where they loaded cedar and everything.

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Loading logs from Cass Lake at Norway Beach.
Creator: W. E. LaFountain
Lumbering Operations on the Minnesota National Forest Reserve
Photograph Collection, 1903
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. Collection I.11.16 Negative No. 73893

You can still see those pilings that were driven down to hold the boom back, the loading boom of the logs. There was quite a mill there too. You could walk anywhere on the river bottom there and they had it full of sawdust and everything. They had horse teamworks there to pull the lumber away from the mill. That was a pretty fair mill. They did a good job there. They shipped a lot of lumber out of that mill. They shipped it to the buyer in Grand Rapids, and a train hauled it out from Grand Rapids. They shipped all the stuff that came down the river. And these lumberjacks could really keep the logs a-coming. Boy they had a good mill there. Boy, I tell you, they put out lumber!

That Dumas was a good little town, down there at Dumas. It was just a little store, with boarding places, and company buildings all lined up there. There was a store there. We'd paddle with a boat to go down and get our bacon, flour, sugar. We'd paddle up river all day to get that stuff.

Oh, the current was swift too, especially in the springtime. But we paddled boats and canoes up the river. The river was a main highway those days, ya.

This summer drive went in through the rivers, driving timber to the mills. At the same time some tore across the lakes with steamboats.(40)

I remember those days. . . . The mill's were a-going. . . . The production was there. . . . They had it. . . . And they produced the best timber at that time. . . .

Below Ball Club River, at the outlet of the Ball Club River where it empties into the Mississippi, there's a point they call "Gannon's (spXXX??) Point." On that point, on the river bottom of the meadows, there was a store, made of timber. This guy had a store, a trader called "Gannon." I don't know how long he ran that store there. That was a store for the lumberjacks to go and buy tobacco, or whatever they needed for the wah-ni-gan. Seelye down here at Ball Club River had quite a mill there too. That was a big mill.

Later on in time, if we had a little timber we got a chance to get that timber to some little portable mill that was there trying to saw. I'm speaking now more of portable mills. Stationary mills were different.

One portable mill was on Leech and Mississippi Forks, on the south side of the bridge. There was another mill there earlier, a stationary mill. The portable mill was run by Sundquist, a Swede from the old country. He was then about 56 years old. But the mill wasn't running on a big scale. Very little he took in. He barely had enough to keep it going.

But we were happy and we had faith in the mill. "Well," they'd say, "it's gonna start up." Then we were all glad because maybe we could sell a log or two. Probably we'd go pick up an old dead-head and pull it in. When those big loggers go through with the great big Norway pine and everything the logs which lodge on the bottom sometimes show up later on. Well that's what I mean by a "dead-head." It'll get water "lodged"(41) and they'll get to be a dead-head.

We used to clean the river by dead-head picking, and they'd saw them up at Sundquist's mill. Earlier on we'd pick dead-heads and put them in at the other saw mills. Dead-heads make one of the best lumber, after it's water "lodged," cured, and after it's dried. That is more interesting.

When the mill was going we could sell dead-heads. We'd go along picking up dead-heads along the river. We didn't get much money for it. There wasn't much money in it. It was good lumber, but there was so much of it that they could get any amount of it easy all along the Mississippi River. They cleaned that out pretty well along the Mississippi River.

Sundquist himself barely had enough money just to buy oil and wood and to hire the man to shove in the wood. I remember that. Joe Barnes will verify that.

I got a job working in that mill. I played there three, four days -- about 1917-1918 -- but the boss of the mill didn't have enough money to feed the crew. We had very little to eat. And he used to have a tough time transporting that lumber to sell. There were no roads. We had to wait until he drifted that lumber down that river. There was no money until he got the stuff to the buyer in Grand Rapids. There was no loan. That was rough.

Sometimes the overhead,(42) the big wheel, would come over, look at the situation, and give him a hundred dollars or couple hundred dollars to get so much timber out.

That's the way he kept going. When he ran out of money the mill stopped and everything stopped. It stopped because the bill guy came. The mill closed down about 1928-1929. The scrap iron division was buying up scrap iron, so people began taking the mill apart piece by piece and selling it for scrap. They just helped themselves. Finally, the scrap iron people bought the boiler for junk.

As I remember, about, oh, 1920, there was another mill at Deer River. Finally we got small buyers who came in here and set up offices at the mills. We had cedar yards here, and they cut posts and poles. White Oak Lake, along the Mississippi, where I was born, was a good pocket to reserve all the logs.(43) They used White Oak Lake as a log landing spot. Then, in the spring, they'd just put a conveyor down to the lake and some men would push the logs up the conveyor into the mill. That mill was a big mill. The posts and the foundation of that mill still show a little at Little White Oak. I worked there for a few days too.

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Loading logs from boom to cars by means of steam hoist with endless chain.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1928
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.41 r46 Negative No.

Off and on I'd work at other mills. Then times again, often at haying time,(44) I'd fool around Ball Club looking for a job. It was easy to get a job if you knew what you were doing in the experience of labor. Occasionally I came down to Ball Club to help with the hay, and I would see all these mills -- I'll say there were one, two, three, four mills, about three, four miles apart, not any more.

When I was a youngster it was just like it was wild(45) around Ball Club. Ball Club wasn't any bigger than about three, four houses. Those houses aren't here anymore. They burnt down. They were log houses. They all burnt down. They were located where the Shell Oil station is now. There was a whole line of those log houses there. There was another house, a big hotel, where the other store, Olsen's store, is. There was a big hotel there, a great big lumberjack hotel, but that burnt down too.

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Ball Club Hotel on the Eastern Minnesota Railroad, Ball Club.

Ball Club Hotel on the Eastern Minnesota Railroad, Ball Club.
Photograph Collection, 1900
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location no. MI8.9 BC p2 Negative no. 40259

That hotel was about -- gee, it should'a had room for about fifteen, twenty anyway. It was a big square building. It burnt down in nineteen-twenty-six, I think it was. Twenty-six, thirty, in there somewhere. Maybe it was in 1916 or 1917. I don't remember. They never rebuilt it. I suppose there was no insurance, or the party moved. It was a total loss and they probably had no insurance. They didn't have insurance much them days. Anyway, the party moved after it burned down. The party was getting older and they bought a place somewhere else.

Oh yes, the party that owned it was a representative of the State.(46) Ya, she was a senator, I think. Ya, she was a representative of this area, a woman representative.

She had a trading post there too. That was just where the Indians traded moccasins and all that stuff. She'd buy and sell.

There was another hotel around here the time they logged off this area, a place they called "The Halfway Hotel." That half-way place was at the Third River, I guess. See, there's woods they go through to get to the camp, the camp on the other side of Third River. In the winter they walked most of the way up there on the ice.(47) But they don't walk on the ice all the way. Then, when they got on the land, maybe they got a chance to take a rest. There's a camp way out in the woods. They called that "Midway." It was right on the outlet of the Third River.

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Lumberjacks at their camp in the Third River area, northwest of Deer River.
Photograph Collection, 1900
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 p23 Negative No.

There's a new "Midway" now. The new "Midway" is along the Mississippi, below the Mississippi-Winnibigosh Dam. That's a different place all-together from the Old Fairbanks' place. But they like the name of "Midway," and that's what they called it. That's where the lumberjack stops to rest.

Wh^$h!

I know an old party here who remembers that, old Michaud, Charlie Michaud -- the Indian boy that cleared the log jam in the logan. He lived in my times too. We hunted and traveled together. I remember, he was fourteen years old when he started going to logging camps. He was a wonderful teamster. He was wonderful with horses, and he got a job anywhere. Just think, a young kid like that driving horses in a logging camp. That was in nineteen eight. . . . It must have been about 1910, when he was fourteen years old.

Now he's an old man that guy. He looks young, but he'd old. He never did hard work; he'd just drive team. He was a wonderful teamster.

"One time," he said, "we went to work wa-a-ay up by Third River. This other place was by Third River, on the way to Bena. There were no roads, just a logging road -- no highways, just a wagon road. Once in a great while you'd meet a team on that wagon trail. Maybe only one team a day'd go up there, a supply team."

That was, about 30, 25, 30 miles up there. Going 'round, it was thirty-five, forty miles -- going on those winding trails, those wagon trails. Those wagon trails up there were so windy that sometimes you'd meet yourself going around these slough holes.

"Well, what did you do when you got paid and had to go to town?"

"We didn't go to town," he says, "we had to stay there the whole winter."

"Well, what did you do if you didn't like it?"

"Well," he said, "there'd be a crew on the road, a crew in the camp, and a crew in town."

"Well, how did they get up there? Did they take sandwiches?"

"Everybody had what they called a 'turkey,' a 'goose' for their back. That's a pack sack, a flour sack where you kept your clothes and lunch. . . ."

They talk about it as a "goose" or a "turkey." That "goose" for your back -- that "turkey" or "goose" for your back -- is a bundle you put your belongings in and tie it up and put it on your back. They call it that because when you tie it up it looks like a goose or a turkey. See, they tie it up, choke it up. When it's choked up, then the rope is the legs. It's a picture of a turkey. It looked like a turkey, but that was his clothes. And there's two packstraps on it -- that's what they call "packstraps" nowadays -- and they put that across their shoulder. And then they can walk clear-handed.

". . . We put our clothes in there with a sandwich or some loaf of bread, they tie it up, and we walked. If it got dark anywhere," he said, "you kept right on walking, if we could feel the road with our feet. Then, after it gets dark, you could see. You can see after it gets dark. Ya, you get used to it and you can see a little by reflection of the sky. You could see enough to walk, anyway -- if it don't get too dark."

"Well," I said, "what did you do when you got tired?"

"Well, there was a halfway mark on that wagon trail and there was a hotel -- it was supposed to be a hotel stopping place, a dinner place. All of these folks and teams, all of them who brought supplies, all the lumberjacks and the big wheels, they'd stop there and over-camp, overnight. 'Midway' we called it. They'd all stop there."

That was above George Tibbetts' place. It was by Jackson's up there, on the other side of Flemming's farm, by that big farm up there. Jackson lived pretty close there somewhere. On the other side of Decker's up there. You know that George Tibbets' place? That was Jackson's home ground. They had a big house there. I think it was a log house. It was a big place anyway, and they served meals there -- just like a hotel.

"What did those lumberjacks have when they were walking on the road," I said to Charlie Michaud, "did you have cash or what?"

"Those days," he said, "it was cash, silver, when we got paid. But you didn't get paid the silver in the camps."

"Where'd you get paid them?" I asked him -- but I knew just about what he was going to say when I asked the question.

"When we got paid in the camps them days," he said, "we got a white slip a paper -- a 'timeslip.' We had to take those timeslips in to the headquarters. Bena was the headquarters then, when we were working for Tommy Welch, a logger for Canada & Clemet Company. We went in to the headquarters and cashed the timeslips in. Sometimes there was money to cash those timeslips at headquarters, and sometimes there was no money in. They'd run out of money."

"Well, what good is that timeslip to you if there's no money at headquarters?"

"It's no good sometime," he said, "but it is good when the money's available. Sometimes they'd run out, but most of the times they had money. Only sometimes they ran out."

So supposing we want to quit, or go to town. Maybe we'd have to quit, or have to get some money. To get our pay, we had to go many miles to town by foot. We had to go twenty, twenty-five miles, or maybe thirty miles. The boss didn't trust anybody to have a lot of money in camp. I think it was more or less organized in such a way that there wasn't much money in the camps.

The lumberjacks couldn't carry much money, because it wasn't very safe those days -- at least they didn't have a trust in it being safe. They didn't trust a man to carry around so much money in his pocket, so they had lumberjacks' puzzles to work out a way to get paid. By giving "timeslips" with numbers, the lumberjacks didn't have to worry about their money when they were in the woods.

Well, anyway, the camp operators took care of their lumberjacks. Instead of giving them money they presented their lumberjacks with a white sheet of paper telling how much pay they earned. "Timeslips," they called those pieces of paper. They'd put down so much on the slip, telling how much you made. They'd give you a slip and record the number and amount in the company's book.

They called that a "timeslip" in English. In Indian that slip, that white sheet of paper, to show that you had money coming is called giis-ka-aa$-kwa-ni-m^ss-i-nay-g^n. . . . giis-ka-aa$-kway oo-gii-maa m^ss-i-nay-g^n. That means "the logger gives you paper." oo-gii-maa means "he's the boss of the whole camp."

So when you want to quit or be excused you have to report to the camp clerk, and he puts you on the book. So you'll know how much you are credited by the company. You were paid by so much a month, or by so much a year, where you stayed.

"Are you going to come back?" the camp clerk would ask you when he gave you your slip.

"I'll be back sometime, but I don't know when. Maybe I will find another job."

But, anyhow, their camps were good.

The timber workers all understand that. If you weren't working for the railroad, there was nothing but timber labor those days, anyhow. Sometimes the timeslip record went to Grand Rapids for the paymaster and you'd have to go there to see him to get your pay.

The paymaster got the timeslips from the timber workers. When the paymaster gets that slip, your timeslip, he checks it with his book. He looks to see if it's the same number of that slip he's got. If your number is the same number as that in his book, he'll give you your pay. Most generally he'll give you your pay. The lumberjacks made twenty-six or thirty dollars a month, in 1918, and when you gave the paymaster your slip you got your twenty-six or thirty dollars -- in silver. For this reason they gave you timeslips, and you get money, in Grand Rapids or Bena or someplace else.

It wasn't safe for you to carry any money on your passage through "the jungle."(48) It wasn't safe to have too much currency in your pocket. Something might happen that you may not be able to talk. I think that was a pretty wise stunt, even if you did have to go to Bena or Grand Rapids to find the paymaster.

When lumberjacks came to town, they most often put their money in a restaurant, or wherever they stopped, or wherever they did their trading. They were afraid to carry money. That's why they gave it to someone they trusted. They'd leave most of their money someplace in town, because they didn't want to carry it. It was too dangerous to carry money. They might lose it or something. There were lots of them who drank something -- alcohol -- that wasn't very good for them. They could fall down and go to sleep on the side road. They by the next morning the money's gone. So that's why they put some of it away. They'd take it a little by little from the place they trusted. Putting money someplace in town was a good deal too. But they always got it little by little, taking out just enough to get along on.

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Superior Street-Duluth.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1915
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. MS2.9 DU2 r31 Negative No.

The loggers in those days left their money in a restaurant or someplace in town with anybody they trusted. A guy in Duluth, at the Garfield Avenue Newsstand, had a nice little business charging lumberjacks to keep track of their money. They always left it with someone they trusted. There was a bank, but they didn't want their money tied up at the bank. They wanted it loose. The bank was open only at a certain time in those days. Sure, lots of them put money in the bank. Yes. I don't say they didn't, because they did. The banker was trusted. The banker had trust. We still have good bankers. The lumberjacks also put their money in with them. But most of them kept their money with some businessman they trusted.

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Kindred Avenue, Grand Rapids.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. MI8.9 GR2 r6 Negative No.

Old Pog was a paymaster in Grand Rapids. When I'm talking about Pog I'm talking about 19.. , oh about 1917, and from there on. That's a-way back. Before that I'm talking about 1914, '15. Those were mostly logging days. That's a way, way back. With Pog's programs it was kind of hard to get the money, but he paid it. Whether he paid full or not you don't know. Old Pog was a pretty good guy. He favored the poor man. He was a poor man himself. He was a logger, a timber worker, and he favored the people pretty much. Yea. He had a kind of a business office there at Grand Rapids. I wouldn't know what his real name was. But with Pog, I think that'd be easy to find out, because there's some of them living yet who used to work for him.

Oh, it was a rough field them days, and it was better if you came down through those trails without cash and anything of value. Maybe it's a good deal that way, because there's no foul work or ganging up then. That's a good deal -- maybe that's what it was for.

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Second Street, Cass Lake.
Photograph Collection, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. MC3.9 CL2 r2 Negative No.

But in later years they got rough with those timeslips! The company just tried to wear the timeslips out, by telling the lumberjacks to come back, come back, come back for their money. So, in the meantime, the lumberjacks they got other work and those timeslips would wear out in their pockets.

It got so rough that times were beginning to get hard. Times got kind-a-hard in the twenties. Everybody wanted money then. When the lumberjacks showed up with those worn-out timeslips, the paymaster of the company'd ask, "What'd you do there?" Some of the loggers would come away with nothing; some wouldn't get their full amount.

So they commenced to get a law against that, and they made a law that when a lumberjack quits a camp, he's supposed to be paid within forty-eight hours. "Right now" he's supposed to have his money. He's supposed to get paid right away. Those laws helped a lot of lumberjacks. With the laws the lumberjacks got brave and they got paid off right away.

Scanlon paid them off right away when they come down, so did Canada & Clements Lumber Company. But sometimes the lumberjacks still had to wait for their money -- "no funds." They said they had to put money in the bank, and to do that they had to travel to Cass Lake or Bemidji or wherever there was a bank. They said they had to travel there and deposit some money. "It takes time for money to come up in the mail too," they'd tell them.

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Third Street, Bemidji.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1923
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. MB4.9 BJ2 r13 Negative No. 79894

There was a nigger lawyer -- a colored lawyer -- at Bemidji, Skrutchenson (spXXX??). Everybody remembers him! And when he got in the courtroom and bellered, he was just like a bull. He was just like a bull when he laid down the law. Boy he was a lawyer!! He was a great man, that guy.

So, these lumberjacks would go to him and tell him, "Well, I didn't get no money!"

"Who'd you work for?"

A certain company. And they'd tell him the company name.

"Okay. Where's your receipt? Did they give you a receipt?"

"A slip? Ya."

The lawyer read that timeslip and he'd say, "You got so much comin'."

"Okay."

"They didn't pay you? You didn't cash this in there?"

"No. The officer wouldn't cash it. He didn't have no money."

That lawyer'd tell them to board at the hotel and wait 'till he called them: "Okay. Go down to Markham's Hotel, or any hotel you want to. You stay there 'till I call you."

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Hotel Markham, Bemidji.

Hotel Markham, Bemidji.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1916
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. MB4.9 BJ3.1 r30 Negative No.

He'd go down to the hotel and tell them, "Take care of them guys."

He'd wait 'till three, four of them came in. Oh he'd get a lot of those time checks! See, they started abusing those timeslips around. Oh, he got a lot of timeslips off of timber workers on drives. He'd just send them into the hotel: "You stay there overnight, and tomorrow I'll settle it for you -- right there! According to law, all they have is forty-eight hours to pay up. That's your money, you take it home."

So the lumberjacks'ed be there at the hotel, just boarding over, anxious to get their money and send it to their wives or send some money home in to the bank. Then, when they got too anxious and wanted to send home some money, he'd call the logging companies in and tell them that the loggers demand that payment. They'd pay the men.

And if he had to, when he had enough timeslips, that colored lawyer'd call those loggers, big loggers, in court. In court that colored lawyer'd bellar out, "This man's time is valuable! He's gotta be paid. He's got a family. He's gotta eat!!! You made him suffer! Now, you're lucky to get out just by paying what your damages are!!!" Oh boy, when he laid down the law, he laid the law!! You could hear him clear to the other side of town. He was just like a bull.

He couldn't be beat, you know. He was a lawyer. Huh! Aye! he'd demand that these guys get paid. He'd lay down the law right now.

All right, they'd pay them all right. When they paid the men off, then he'd demand their board bill. He'd tell them, "On top of that, now you'll have to pay the board bill."

They'd pay that too. They paid the lawyer's time too, from that time he began working on those timeslips. They'd pay his time, the loggers' wages, and the time for the loggers' waiting at the hotel.

"Oh man! Ho-ho! Oh, he sure cleaned that business out in a hurry. Before he got through they all paid up on that. They had a good man there, boy! He was very good, yah.

Tommy Welch, and Campbell, and Canada & Clements, and all them, they all understood timeslips. Ya, they all used time-slips too.

A while after, McKusick (spXXX??) of Hibbing did the same too. McKusick (spXXX??) was quite a logger. Quite a few years after, around 1930, '32, he did the same.

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View of Orr.
Photograph Collection, 1928
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. MS2.9 OR p1 Negative No.

Some Indians from Ball Club were up at Orr working for McKusick (spXXX??), the great pulplogger for the northwest. They were lumberjacks who worked for him in the woods. They peeled and pulped. McKusick was more generally in the pulp business. He hired the Indians to peel the pulp with drawknifes and spuds. They were hired to take the roughbark off of the logs. His men generally pealed the pulp and everything, and they'd get so much for doing that. Oh, they probably would have forty, fifty, dollars coming at the end of the month. That was up at Orr. And it was about '32. The foreman would make them out a timeslip, and they had to take that to Hibbing, or wherever they could catch McKusick. They'd tell the men, "You give that to McKusick and he'll pay."

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Scalers at a camp east of Orr.
Photograph Collection, 1930
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 r18 Negative No. 78550

I first got up there to Orr to visit.(49) I didn't go up there to work. I had some folks up there I wanted to see. Just think how inquisitive we were, how we searched out how the people are.

When I got there I asked my cousin, "How's everything going?"

"Good."

"They pay you all right?"

"Oh yes. That fella's got money."

"I heard he doesn't have any money."

"Ya, but with all the timber and all the security he has, he can get money in the bank," they said. "He'd be foolish to walk around here with cash in his pocket and pay you cash. But his slips are good."

"Where are they good?"

"Ya. They're good," they said. "I think Chisholm. I know where Chisholm is. One of my in-laws is a police there."

"I'm up here to visit, but maybe I'll go to work, to see all the Indians work."

So they furnished me a draw-knife, and I built a horse, a saw-horse, to hold the pulp up. Then I worked too. I don't know how many carloads we peeled.

Where I stayed, my cousin, my in-laws, and my relatives were camped together. We all camped up there. We were furnished with food, but we had to pay for it on our account. There was a big camp of us, with about eight or ten in that camp. There were three or four other groups of them camped there like us. Then we did have fun!

We were laughing and joking, and they were teasing Old Paul about some young widow.

"Why ain't you married, Paul."

I said, "Ohhh no!! I can't find anybody because I'm related to all," I said.

"My mother told me, she said, 'look out. If you want to get married you have to go to some other reservation.'" I said, "I can't afford that. And I like the way I live. I like to be with mother and dad. We have a farm to take care of. We have hay to take care of. Have I got time to go? No. I try to do what I can."

Charlie Michaud'll tell you the same thing. We sat and talked over there at Orr. I remember them days. And I remember way back there when I was a kid around the Leech and Mississippi Forks.

That was about the way it worked in those days. Nowadays, when people go to work anywhere they give the employer forty-eight hours time to pay. They have to pay within that time. If it's overdue, they'll charge the employer. Now they have a good law that says within forty-eight hours they have to pay you. That's the law. If you quit, or if you get fired, they're supposed to pay you right there.

That's another thing. Nowadays when you have to be paid you get a check. But that's still a piece of paper until you get it in the bank, then it's cash. Come to think about it, those checks are pretty much the same as the old timeslips. But nowadays, a lot of them cash their checks through the stores, small stores, or someplace like that. They don't have to go to Grand Rapids or Bena or Chisholm or Cass Lake.

In the old days, after they cashed in their timeslips, the loggers had money in their pocket -- but they still didn't know the value of money. There was so much, plenty of everything, and everything was so cheap that when you bought with a dollar, you got something. A dollar was valued a dollar them days.

Besides that, there was a lot of work. It was simple to go get a job anywhere, those days. There was all kinds of work -- roadwork, timberwork, pulpcutting, railroad work, and all that. But it was most generally the loggers that gave us the jobs.

Those loggers were great, really great, those days, because they're the ones that furnished the labor(50) to the older class. Those wah-ni-gans were loaded with men at all times. If you didn't have a job you'd just meet the wah-ni-gan at a certain place, and they'd always give you a job.

There was another logger, a great logger, they called George Cauken. (spXXX??) I remember one time there was a school class in Ball Club, and they were having some kind of Bible school or catechism class. The teacher asked one boy, "Hey buddy, who is the greatest man of the world? Who is the greatest Creator of the world?"

He was supposed to say, "Jesus."

But instead, he said, "George Caukins!" (spXXX??)

They laughed at him.

"Ah," he said, "George Caukins was the greatest. He was a logger!"

That was a simple question, but the boy didn't care who was supposed to be the greatest because he was studying at the same time from the book and didn't want to be bothered -- and we always had great respect for the loggers, them days. So he answered, "Oh, George Caukins!"

I remember that story. Gee, that was nice.

I remember a lot. And I've been through a lot. I've been through those logging days. I have a little defect on my right arm by paralysis,(51) but I always felt good. I felt good, outside of my teeth trouble, but I got that straightened up by very nice doctors which favored me and worked on me.(52) I'm glad that we had good doctors in this area. I say for sure that they do a wonderful job amongst the people. They at least try to help us along.

So, I'm able to get around, and I think I'm still active for my age. My little defect on my right leg and arm, my little paralysis, doesn't bother me. I wish I could do more work to help others along and to help myself. I wish that at all times. I was able though, to string myself along and help myself, and it felt good. I worked and did exercise and did not overdo it. And labor I enjoyed. When you make a practice of working a little bit, exercising a little bit, you feel good. You are satisfied at the end of the day. Then you feel like resting, and you have a good rest. That's the way your nature is. If you don't exercise then you begin to pick up excess and all that. You don't feel like yourself because you don't know what to do. Continue your schedule and you'll know yourself.

Some people I feel, have a certain hour to do something regular, like their work. They got their work planned out in detail what's next to do. They go along and do their work when it is time to. They'll probably put in two or three hours of work.

At my age(53) I have nothing I have to do. I maybe work two, three hours, maybe four. Four hours of working is quite a strain with me now.

In my younger days I could take more hours in logging. I could take more hours in logging because I was interested. The more I got done, the more I'd have to do to provide for the family. And it was fun tugging the run. I could stand it more.

We'd wrestle those logs. We didn't have any jammers. We had horses for skidding. We had to pile that stuff by hand and with pickaroons or can-hooks. We pick the stuff up by hand. We had to lift more. We got a lot of lifting, and by practicing lifting we got used to it. And the more you work, the harder you work, when you're in prime, the more you'll get used to it, and it doesn't bother you. You get tired after so many hours on that job. Then when you rest, you're fresh again the next day. You're fresh.

So that's the way life is.

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Two horse team skidding logs out of the woods.
Photograph Collection, 1890
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.32 p19 Negative No. 16701

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Three unidentified men and two horses pulling a log.
Creator: Arthur A. Richardson
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.32 r20 Negative No. 28848

 

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Two men in woods with log and horse.
Creator: Arthur A. Richardson
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.32 r21 Negative No. 28819

Day comes, day comes, and you do your regular work. You enjoy that, doing stuff. You enjoy seeing what work you've done in the past. Pile that wood and sell it, get your money, and then cut some more. You work regular, you know your duties when you're logging, cutting, and helping with piece-cutting.

You do a good job on every stick you cut and pile so the next man can come along and skid it. They do wonderful work when they work together good. But I've seen some lumbermen that just cut so fast that they just throw the stuff in the pile. It's not piled very good, and it's hard for the skidder to pick them up. This guy that picks up the logs and draws it by hand has a hardship if the logs are not piled up straight. He loses time on that. Everybody piles the logs along the roads where the dray goes through to pick them up. It's more handier and faster if you do it right. If the loads are good, skid roads are good, and the stuff is piled up good it doesn't take that long to pick up the loads, 'specially pulp logs piled into cord piles.

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A typical lumberjack and his pile of wood.
Creator: William F. Roleff (1873-1943)
Photograph Collection, 1910
Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. HD5.7 p1 Negative No. 3287

So, that's how things go. If you do neat work, you work is well liked. If you do poor work, you're not deeply interested with your work. When you do it right and clean, which is required when you go out into the woods to do your work, the people speak about that. They say, "He does wonderful work. His logs are well trimmed, well piled, and the load is well done, straight. He's not sultry with his work. He's very active."

So that's why I try to do it right. I feel that I should do it right if I'm going to do it at all, or I should not try. But if I try, I'll do my work right. By trying, you're taking care of yourself.

If you've practiced to learn, and know how to do your work well, you've done well. That's all your foreman wants in any kind of work. So when you do that he knows you're interested in the work you're doing. You do very good work.

That's half of the life. It reflects to you that they know they're satisfied with your work and you don't owe anybody anything. What you got paid for, you already earned, so you feel that you earn it honestly. If the work is only half done, why you think they overpaid you. But if you're paid in full and you've done your full duty, then you both feel good about it.

Then you can go to work anytime, work anywhere. Sometimes you go to a strange place and the boss'll ask you, "Have you done this kind of work?" or, "Have you labored anywhere where you're from?"

"Yes."

"Well, who was your employer?"

Well you name the party and it doesn't take him long to find out what kind of a man you are.

That's a big thing in this country too! They want to know if you are trusted, if you know how to handle work with no danger of wrecking yourself or hurting your job. If you practice, you're perfect; so if your practice is good, you're a good man. That's a big thing in this world. So you're happy, you don't owe nobody by earning your own dollar -- that is, if you earn it. You're well paid, and they're not afraid to pay you.

They trust you. Your word's good. They listen to your talk. They look at you as a man. "There's a good man," they'll say.

Everybody tries, you know. But with some, it's a hardship because they're defected and they can't work because they're unable. Of course there were some works where I wasn't able to do very well. But I tried. If you try, if you could try and do better, maybe some day you'll be pretty dang good at it. If you don't care to do any work, if you don't care to get it well done, if you're not interested, then you failed.

Your boss knows this. They hear about you. Then when you go to the next job they think you might get hurt, you might injure yourself, you aren't interested in your work. But if you're interested in your work and try to get it well done, they trust you and expect that you won't get hurt.

People consider those things too. A lot of things flash to the employer. If he doesn't already know, you should tell the employer where the slow-down is. Maybe he'll help you to better yourself.

It works together good. It goes along well. It is a good thing that the employer knows what's to be done. You do it right, what he requests you to do in your line of work. If the employer's well satisfied, and you know he's well satisfied, you feel good about working. That's the main thing.

As you go along in life you can go out and do anything. You can try any kind of work. You've been trying this work and trying that work and you try to do it well -- although it takes time to learn any kind of work. It takes time to learn the acts, to get the different acts, of work. After you get the acts then you can improve your work.

Later on in years you might want a job and the boss might hear about you, which is natural. The loggers, or any contractor, or anyone that manages hears about who's a good man and who isn't. This man who does good work doesn't have any trouble getting another job wherever he wants. He's already known. His record's good from this guy who was his reference. That way it's easier for the man that works for labor. And that's easier for the boss. He trusts this man, he knows this man does good work, and he always likes to hang on to the man that does good work.

That way it's easier for him. It's easier all around.

So. . . .  That's woods work.

Do good work and you're trusted. You're trusted. That's the way it is with any kind of work, not only logging.




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Footnotes

1. Cf. Ch. 4, "And Then the Logs Were Gone," in Rottsolk, James E. 1960. Pines, Mines, and Lakes: The Story of ITASCA COUNTY, MINNESOTA. [Grand Rapids, MN??]:Itasca County Historical Society, pp. 20-32.

2. Fall 1909 - Spring 1912. See Ch. 36, "School."

3. Sawn boards.

4. A can-hook . . . XXX

5. Cf., Ch. 38, "Finns, 'The Sweatbath-Men'."

6. The term "boys" is used to include people as old as sixty or seventy. Here it refers to individuals, probably young to middle age.

7. Lake Superior. See Ch. XXX

8. Of the woods.

9. The teamster is the one who is in charge of driving the team.

10. A water tank, to water down the ice-ruts.

11. Chewing/smoking tobacco . . . XXX

12. A roller is xxx

13. I.e., run into the trees in the woods.

14. A cross-evener is . . . xxx

15. A "double-tree" is XXX

16. Sometimes they "stamped" them with a tool that looked like a branding iron. See photograph XXX, page XXX

17. Using log booms -- big logs chained together -- to control the movement of the other logs. Sometimes the boom would go around a group of logs to pull them across the lake, sometimes the boom would be stretched across the river, to keep the logs from going beyond a certain point (like a mill, or a branch of the river that they wanted to divert the logs down).

18. Lake Winnibigoshish.

19. See Ch. XXX

20. The plants and yield were getting smaller.

21. Beer joint.

22. Later on, from 19xxx to 19xxx, it became illegal to drink alcohol on the reservation. xxx + ref

23. You use your mind harder when considering spending the money.

24. Thousand board feet.

25. For taxes and social security.

26. Pretty soon cooperative stores and businesses ("Co-ops") began coming in, especially in the Finnish towns.

27. A place or area where they stayed more or less permanently.

28. Stay in one place, at least until the children are grown and can live on their own.

29. Things that are printed and folded are considered a book. Hence, a newspaper or magazine is a "book."

30. I.e., get out "of the red."

31. There was so much timber cut that you were not able to walk over it.

32. On the Leech River. Cf., page xxx.

33. A logan is a small pond or backwater area connected with the river. [XXX??Local variant of lagoon or laguné.??

34. Rafts are logs tied together which resemble a raft.

35. At least.

36. Having lunch is a very important priority in life.

37. Later on they had portable mills.

38. Fall 1909 - Spring 1912.

39. Timber buyer.

40. Cf. Ch. 4Xxx, ... [steamboats]

41. Waterlogged.

42. The boss/supervisor.

43. "The Itasca Lumber Company had taken over the Deer River Lumber Company by 1910. Most of the logs from the northwestern part of the county were sawed there. But October 8, 1921, this mill on the shores of White Oak Lake sawed its last log; by June of the following year all its stock of lumber had been sold." (Rottsolk, James E. 1960. Pines, Mines, and Lakes: The Story of ITASCA COUNTY, MINNESOTA. [Grand Rapids, MN??]: Itasca County Historical Society, p. 29).

44. See also Ch. XXX  . . . 

45. Not developed. At the turn of the century there were only three incorporated villages in all of Itasca County, Grand Rapids (pop. 1,428), Deer River (pop. 251), and LaPrairie (pop. 88). (Rottsolk, James E. 1960. Pines, Mines, and Lakes: The Story of ITASCA COUNTY, MINNESOTA. [Grand Rapids, MN??]:Itasca County Historical Society, p. 25).

46. Paul Buffalo always referred to her as Annie Payne. Rottsolk notes the following: ". . . Miss Annie Stark, later Mrs. Rosanna Payne -- the first woman elected to the legislature from Itasca County, captained one of these [steam]boats for several years." (Cf., Rottsolk, James E. 1960. Pines, Mines, and Lakes: The Story of ITASCA COUNTY, MINNESOTA. [Grand Rapids, MN??]: Itasca County Historical Society, p. 28.)

47. Cf., page xxx, Ch. 36, "School."

48. A hobo camp.

49. Cf., p. XXX, Ch. 33, "Medicine Men / Medicine Women."

50. Furnished jobs to the older class.

51. Childhood paralysis.

52. See Ch. XXX. . . .

53. 76.

REM: add this to the bib in the lumber chapter 39

Stanchfield, Daniel. 1901. "History of Pioneer Lumbering on the Upper Mississippi and Its Tributaries, with Biographic Sketches. A Personal Narration." Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, 9:325-362.

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