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X. THE LUMBER INDUSTRY—1850-1953 (continued)

E. LOGGING CAMPS in the 1870s-1920s

1. Shanties

The logging camps were similar in appearance to the settlements of the 1840s made in the oak, beech, and maple forests of western New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. The camp consisted of a number of shanties, 12 feet square, in which the men slept on bunks ranged upon the side opposite the entrance. [72]

2. Cookhouse

There was a cookhouse, 50 to 60 feet in length, and 30 feet in width, wide enough to accommodate two tables when positioned lengthwise. The stove and cooking utensils were separated from the dining hall by a partition of boards, or cheap cotton cloth tacked to upright posts.

A good cook was the "oracle of the camp." He was appealed to by his boarders to settle disputes, "whether concerning questions of law, love, or labor." He was usually musically inclined, called at stag dances, and whistled an accompaniment. It was not unusual to find that the cook was a college graduate, "who has banished himself from the populous town or city to break up convivial habits." He acted as merchant, buying and selling tobacco and cigars by the box, socks, woolen shirts, jumpers, and overalls by the dozen. Where the "boss" was not too strict, a thrifty cook could provide a tired man with a tumbler of whiskey, "the bottom of the glass coming up in the center halfway to the brim." As a rule, however, hard liquor was forbidden in camp, unless the "boss" kept the keys to where it was stored. [73]

3. Storehouse

The storehouse was well supplied with barrels of corned pork and beef, kits of salt fish, sides of bacon, sacks of beans and potatoes. Indeed, the loggers were more liberally provided with provisions than any other class of laborers. The larder was never short of flour, butter, coffee, tea, dried fruits, and canned goods. Fresh beef by the quarter or half, and sheep by the carcass were forwarded to the camps from the Company Store. [74]

4. Repair Shop

The repair shop, consisting of a blacksmithy and "jack of all trades" department, was looked upon as a "sort of manufacturing center." Here the oxen and horses were shod, chains, "dogs," jack-screws, picks, shovels, wedges, and trucks repaired, axe helves fitted, mauls fashioned, saws filed, and tools ground. [75]

5. Barn

There was a long barn in which the oxen and horses were fed, and the hay, cornmeal, and ground barley stored. In the center was the feed; on each side were the stalls for the stock. By the mid-1880s technological advances had reduced the need for oxen. Among these advances were the use of standard gauge railroads, extending into the logging areas, to haul out logs; a greater use of rivers in Humboldt County in getting the timber to mills; and the introduction of donkey engines, which were capable of snaking huge logs from deep gulches or hillsides to convenient points, where they would be picked up by ox teams. With the advent of the bull donkey in the 1890s, ox teams became obsolete and were dispensed with at most of the logging camps. [76]

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004