From the book, "The Knowledge Library, 1919, first printing 1915.
One of the early wood industries in New England was making charcoal for the smelting of iron. This stripped much of the forests in the 1600's and 1700's as it takes a tremendous amount of wood to make a small amount of charcoal. This was before coal was discovered. Look at all the forests in New England today.
Have you ever watched the lumberjack roundups on TV, or better yet, been to one yourself? You'll see the origins of many of the contests below.
Chopping wood for charcoal.
The charcoal burner's hut. There's a pile of wood on the right being set up to be burned to make charcoal. The best quality of charcoal is made from oak, maple, beech and chestnut. Wood will furnish, when properly charred, about 20 per cent of coal. A bushel of coal from pine weighs 29 pounds; a bushel of coal from hard wood weighs 30 pounds; 100 parts of oak make nearly 23 of charcoal; beech, 21; apple, 23.7; elm, 23; ash, 25; birch, 24; maple, 22.8; willow, 18; poplar, 20; red pine, 22.10; white pine, 23. (This from Scribner's Lumber and Log Book, 1882, 1890.)
Following close on the heels of charcoal was a huge market for potash. Baking soda had been discovered, the first source of which was potash from trees. What forests had grown back or hadn't yet been stripped for charcoal were now cut down, piled up and burned to make baking soda for cooking.
In the early days of this industry, especially in the Maine and Minnesota pineries, where the modes of operation were identical, the logging party usually built their camp about the beginning of the fall season and then cut the main logging roads, which had to be straight, twelve or more feet wide and level. (The level and straight method didn't apply to northern New Hampshire and Vermont due to the mountainous terrain.) Whole trees, trimmed of their branches, were hauled, the bark being removed from the under side so that it would slip easily on the snow. One end of the tree was loaded on a bobsled, the other part being dragged along. In this way the tree was taken to the landing on the shores of a lake or river, where it was rolled off the sled and the sawyers cut it into logs, cutting a mark of ownership on the side of each log. The logs were then ready for the drivers, in the spring, to roll into the water.
The old camp, as it used to be built from 1848 to 1860, was simple, but very handy. Two large trees, of the full length of the camp, were procured and placed about 20 feet apart and two base logs were cut for the ends. Each end was run up to a peak like the gable of a house, but each side slanted up as a roof, from the long base tree at the ground to the ridge pole. This roof, constructed with level stringers, was shingled.
A chimney measuring about four by six feet formed of round poles and calked was built in the middle of the roof and the fire was directly underneath it in the middle of the room.
Six stones were arranged, three at one end and three at the other, as the fireplace. Logs about eight feet long were laid and burned in a hole between the two rows of stones. When the hole was filled with live coals it was a fine oven for cooking meat or baking beans and bread.
A "saw buck" for cutting up firewood, etc.
A way of holding wood to be split for firewood.
Another way of splitting wood, usually for rails for fencing.
The places for sleeping were next to the wall behind benches of hewn planks built near the fire, and the bed consisted of fir boughs laid on the ground.
Calling the men to supper.
The modern logging outfit is different. Two bobsleds are placed one behind the other and are fastened by two chains crossed in the center.
With tackle and fall, logs are rolled up and loaded on these sleds, sometimes to the height of ten feet. Horses or oxen are used on the tackle, and a load takes from four to ten thousand feet of logs. The method used in the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire was different depending on the available terrain. Logs were skidded to a point on a side hill where they were rolled with cant hooks and peavies onto the load.
It is made possible to draw these very heavy loads by icing the ruts of the logging roads. At the beginning of the logging season, and whenever the snowstorms or continued wearing makes it necessary, water tanks on runners are drawn along the roads, supplying a small stream at each side. The resulting narrow courses of ice bear up the sleds under great weight.
Instead of chopping down the trees as in the olden time, they are now sawed off at the stump.
"Bucking up" the trees into logs.
Taking a rest from cutting.
My great Grandfather, and the crew in Calais, Vermont. The picture was taken by my grandfather, Joel Wheeler.
A closeup of Simon Wheeler, my Great Grandfather.
My grandfather's brother, Raymond Wheeler, holding a peavey.
Measuring up lhe logs with a lumber rule. The man standing on the log is holding a peavey, used for rolling logs.
Bringing the logs to the mill or the river.
A closeup of the same.
Another way of doing it when you didn't have snow.
Logs piled and ready for the river drive in the spring.
Spiked Boots. You needed to wear these to keep your footing and control logs in the water.
When the type of river permitted a raft was used for the cook shack.
Rafting logs on a calm river.
Keeping the logs moving on the drive, very dangerous work in cold, icy water from melting snow in the spring.
A log jam. This must be manually broken up so the drive can continue to the mill.
Another log jam in a very dangerous spot.
Below: An upwater canal - "stern wheeler" pushing a raft of logs.
Logs being loaded on sailing ships.
Bandsaw for cutting logs in a woodworking shop.
A saw in a woodworker's shop.
A woodworking saw.
Woodworker's hand tools.
Some wooden toys.
A method of making wooden toys. The shape was turned on a lathe and then cut up into the individual toys.
A one horsepowered saw rig. This was used ofr cutting up 4 foot "cordwood" into lengths that wood fit in a wood burning stove.
A view of West Bolton, Vermont around 1880 to 1900. You'll notice there are few trees. Most of what you see here is grown up to trees now.