Wisconsin's Logging History

Information on Wisconsin's logging history, how it began, how logs were transported and what buildings were located at the logging camp.

Wisconsin has a great logging history. Logging in Wisconsin, is still very productive today.

The logging history, in Wisconsin has been around for quite awhile, but really started to rise in 1825, when settlers settled in the great lakes, along the shores of Lake Michigan. Settler's

were interested in farming, trading and building cities. Milwaukee served, as the chief port of entry for the settlers. The population grew in Wisconsin, rapidly from 3,000 in 1830 to

11,683 in 1836.

Settler's in the 1830's adn 1840's, were attracted to Wisconsin's good farmland. There was a demand for acreage, which was used

for Wisconsin's principle crop, at this time which was wheat. The northwoods was stripped of trees, to be cleared to be created into farmland. Before the building of railroads, logging was limited to just a few miles, on each side of the Wisconsin River. The building of the railroads, provided the state, with means to

the transportation of logs to mills and markets. The coming of railroads, opened up remote timberlands, to ship and sell timber to all parts of the country.

By 1890 logging lumber had become Wiconsin's leading industry.

The production of paper and wood products, shingles, supported the growth of the lumber industry.

By the year 1905, Wisconsin became the top-paper producing state in the United States.

During the logging era the majority of logs, were cut in the winter. Lumberjacks cut logs, by axes and the logs were then cut up then by cross-cut saws.

The logs were hauled down, by the riverbanks on go-duels or the logs were placed on log sleds and moved over logging roads, to the mills the logs had to go to.

The logging railroads, appeared in the 1880's and by the end of the century, the steam logger was invented. This device made it capable of pulling several sleds in a train.

With the arrival of spring, the dangerous log drives began.

Clad drivers broke the railways, releasing the logs, which were piled on the river banks. Using a pike pole, the driver would ride in a special logging boat. The driver would sometimes, ride

on top of the logs. The driver rode the logs, moving upstream with the logs. Loggers during the logs had a dangerous job, when the logs got

hung up. They sometimes had to stand waist high in cold water, when they had to clear out the jam of logs. In this situation, drownings were frequent. Sometimes driver's were never found or

the driver was buried, along the river bank. Log jams developed sometimes, several miles upstream. It took a great effort to release the jam of logs. The driver had to find the key log,

which then triggered the jam. Sometimes explosives were used to untrigger the jam.

In logging there were two types of saws used. They were the rotary saw and the large gang saw. This large gang saw, cut a log at one time. In the 1880's sawmills used bandsaws, which

made less sawdust and were more efficient.

Logging camps consisted of a bunkhouse, cook shanty, heavy equipment building, blacksmith shop, a barn and other exhibit rooms.

In the cook shanty, the crew was up before dawn, to set up the table and hustle from scratch, a breakfast of pancakes, salt pork and coffee. Table talk in the cook shanty, was strictly limited to the requests for food. Apprentice's swept the floor and helped the cook, bake large loaves of bread and pies for the logger's evening meal. The noon meal was delivered to the

logger's in the woods.

In the camp store the logger's, could buy clothing, shoes, blankets, tobacco and tools.

In the logging camp there was a company clerk. The company clerk was responsible for many jobs, such as keeping the books, a scaler, the supplier and the postman. The bills that the loggers

accumulated, were settled at the end of the month. There bill was taken from their pay, before the logger's got paid.

The saw filer kept logging saws, for each days of work by sharpening them.

The bunkhouse in the camp, housed twenty-six men during the logging season. Oil lanterns were used to, lite the bunkhouse at night.

A logging sleigh was used for logging logs, that were ready to go down the river.

There was also a blacksmith shop located in the logging camp, where there was a blacksmith that repaired the loggers logging tools. The barn in the logging camp, was used to shelter the animals

used in logging. There was a barn manager that dealt, with the needs of the barn animals.

There are places in Wisconsin, set up like the logging camps of yesterday. People can go and tour these logging camps, to get an idea of what the logging era was like. Two of these such places, are the Paul Bunyan logging camp located in Eau Claire and the Crandon logging camp in Crandon.

The logging era is Wisconsin, is a great part of Wisconsin's history, which is still reflected today by the sawmills and the paper mills.

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