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Mason County Memories

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david k petersen

Luman Goodenough Part 2 Last week we took a look at some of the writings of Luman Webster Goodenough about his memories of early Ludington History from his book "Lath Lumber and Shingles" we are going to continue reviewing some of his writings of our early lumber history in part 2 of 3 excerpts from his book. "The river, swollen by the spring freshets, for many years served as the means of transporting logs from forest to mill. The woodsmen, living in the forest camps in winter, cut the trees with axes and saws, trimmed off their branches and sawed them into the required lengths. "Oxen yoked in pairs snaked or dragged the logs from the places they had fallen by logging chains fastened around one end of the logs, to the place of loading,, Oxen were preferred because of the greater ease with which they could pass through standing timber. When a sufficient number of logs had been placed on skids side by side, they were loaded on sleighs and hauled to the rollway on the river-bank to a wait the coming of spring. "When the spring rains came, and snow and ice in river melted, the hibernating logs were a wakened and released by cant-hook and peavy to the edge of the rollway, where they made their way down over the inclined timber tracks built on the river bank. With a splash they reached the water and floated on the stream, followed by the crew of caulk-booted river drivers who piloted them around the bends and to the rivers mouth. Several weeks of spring and early summer were required for the drives and furnished no end of excitement. "When the logs reached the mouth of the river the boom company identified the brands of the owner stamped in the head of each log and segregated them at the "sorting gap." The sorting gap was made at the exit of the river into the little lake by a succession of piles to which booms were secured. River-men standing on platforms above or running along the timbers directed logs to the booms of each separate mill, wherever they had become mingled with those of another. One end of each log was inversely impressed in the lumber woods with the owner's mark by the blow of a heavy sledge or marking hammer. "Here in separate booms the logs belonging to each mill were placed. This was not difficult, for generally the logs of each owner came down together. Booms for enclosing them were made of many long, flat, thick, hand-hewn timbers fastened together end to end by heavy chains passed through holes in the timber ends and locked by welds. "A long succession of these timbers formed a boom. The extreme ends of the boom were fastened together and enclosed hundreds or thousands of saw logs collected at the sorting gap. When the boom was filled, a tug boat towed it and its contents to the owner's mill. Here the boom of logs was moored to piles driven in the river to await the summons of the saws. "The logs were elevated to the cutting floor of the mill by means of a "jack-ladder," so called in lumberman's parlance. This contrivance was a timbered inclined plane at an angle of about sixty or seventy degrees. One end was submerged in the water of the slip, while the other reached to the upper floor of the mill adjacent to the sawing machinery. A heavy endless chain of large flat links ran in an iron track or groove from top to bottom between the timbers forming the incline and was interspersed at regular intervals with sharp dogs. "As logs were needed for the mill, a river-man, pike-pole in hand, reached for a log, drew it up to the platform on which he stood, placed one end where the next dog in rotation engaged the log and dragged it up to the mill floor. One summer as a boy of fourteen I occupied this enviable position outside the mill of a company Father was then managing. I learned to ride logs and to run them, but I seldom left the job at night without a wet seat to my pants or water in my boots. Of any achievement of which I have ever been able to boast, I counted this approach to river driving my greatest feat." If you have any stories or photos you would like to share with our readers please feel free to contact me at 757-3240 or davep@blackcreekpress.com, mail should be sent in care of the Ludington Daily News PO box 340 Ludington Mi 49431.

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