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Saturday, January 30, 2021

Thanks Leigh, My Coffee's Cold And I've Spent The Morning Watching Logging Clips From The 1900's....


Good friend Leigh posted this comment on FFF:


 I've seen old films of logging in the Adirondacks, back in the late 1800's through the early 1900's. They would dump water on the trails to ice them up. That way those big picks would slide along rather easily. They would have cables attached to the skids and have mechanical brakes to control the decent. The horses also had cleated shoes, so they could have sure footed traction.
I saw the presentation back in the early 80's, and have never been able to find it since.*

Whitehall, NY 

* Irish "I see that as a subliminal challenge"  /sits back and cracks knuckles...  

    After some lengthy research scrolling pages and watching, with awe, clips of what the loggers used to do back in the early 1900s I came up with a few tidbits of information that most likely is the video Leigh was referring to..


This site has a caption to a very short video that reads:

In the early 1900s the Ford Company sent an early film camera crew to the Adirondacks to record the life and work of the region’s loggers. The footage they shot shows the logging camps, the icing of roadways for skidding, the interior of a sawmill, loading and hauling logs, and more.

The original footage is held in the National Archives, but I’ve (the author of the site) posted a short clip of a group of river drivers working a small log jam at our YouTube page along with a clip form the PBS documentary The Adirondacks that shows similar color footage. Check it out here.



That video at the link is too short BUT I did find the PBS film that is a step back in time to the 


If any of you are from that area or want to reminisce about what Americana was like this is really 

quite an interesting show. Ya I know it's PBS but fast forward and take a look at memories of yesteryear.

They talk about the logging at the 28:00 mark. Scroll there if you like . Then rewind if you 

like to see the past....



 Below is another documentary I found that was made in the Down East area up in Maine.

It is from the 1930's and it's amazing what these workers did back then....



One last video that documents the history of logging white pine in Michigan.


  1. Love that one from Maine. I saw the last log drive in Maine in 1975 - the river covered with logs floating down stream. Of course the paper mills were more active then as well. The mills are few and far between now.

  2. If you'd rather read a book than watch a film or vid clip, Tall Tees and Tough Men by Robert E. Pike is the book for ya. Your local library may have a copy or be able to obtain one through inter library loan.


  3. Thanks for your efforts ..I recall seeing a film in the 1950's in school. A cool bit of nostalgia.

  4. That's a time when men were men and women were glad of it.

  5. Irish, brings back a lot of memories. I spent my teenage years working for a logger in the Adirondacks. I have fond memories of the sound of the trees falling and the amazement of watching a 4 cylinder gas skidder winching in 5 or 6 25ft logs and then pulling them up the side of a mountain to the road through waste deep snow. It was incredibly hard work but so much fun to ride the top of the skidder as it clawed its way out of a ravine. Wading through the snow with 3 or 4 log chains draped around your neck to hook up the logs...not as much fun! Not a job for snowflakes and manbuns.


  6. Thanks, Boss.
    I didn't mean to make you more work. I actually ripped the PBS vid last night, when I posted, but didn't get a chance to watch it yet. This is why people love coming here. Where else will you find the VARIETY of content that you, Jeff, and guest contributors provide? Just know that wherever you end up, we will still be here.
    I always said I was born a hundred years too late. Life was harder back then, but more rewarding and satisfying.

    Whitehall, NY

  7. Thanks, Irish. I'm a railfan and some of the most beautiful examples of American steam engineering are the logging locomotives.


  8. I grew up in a small town called Hesperia, in Michigan, with the White River running through it. It was a tributary to the Muskegon river, which led to the huge lumber mills that supplied the city of Chicago with the needed wood to rebuild after the Chicago fire.

  9. It's interesting to see some of my relatives in this film. I remember the last river drive on the Machias river. That was around 1963. My father knew many of these men personally. One of these river drivers saved my life in a river accident when I was 13 yrs old. I can tell you one thing, none of these men would have put up with the garbage that is happening the country today. There would be bullets flying.

  10. Irish-
    If you're interested in photos of logging in the West I could send you a couple of links. One is of Kinsey photographs in the Pacific Northwest around the turn of the century and the other is of a logging and milling company in California with photos taken before and after WWII. The two links contain the finest collections I've ever run across.
    I'll check back to see if you're interested. Thanks.
    Elmo, the retired logger.

  11. You might be interested in the Lombard Steam Hauler (c. 1901) the creation of Alvin Lombard out of Waterville, ME.

  12. I was raised out in the country on a really great chunk of land, my dad and I were cleaning out a mess in our cedar stand, dad would fall the trees and I did the rigging with 20 ft chokers for skidding the logs. Dad would let me surf on the logs while skidding them out with a dozer to a flat where we bucked them up. It was great for balance plus it taught you to be light on your feet. I was 12. It was a great way to grow up, stacking monster stacks of firewood, shoveling the barn, (9 horses create a lot of democrat political speech). If you got dinged up mom would just say get over it and away you go. I was raised by a tugboat guy who pulled mountains of logs and there are no better people than loggers or tugboat workers.

  13. Had a lumberman friend in Maine loan me "From Stump to Ship" a few years back. Watched it with my now 90 year old father. He was about in tears. Said it was like seeing an old friend. All the things done in the film were what he grew up with in northern Wisconsin. He started logging at ten and sadly had to retire when he was 85. Said he couldn't do it anymore. Said that when you get older the first thing you have to do when logging was to cut a tree down...so that way you have some place to sit.


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