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Mason County Memories

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Lumbering Days recalled History Column Dave Petersen During the Mason County Centennial Celebration in 1955 a call went out to find the oldest living lumberman in Mason County and for those lumberman to send in their story of lumbering in the old days. At that time there were many people still here that had worked in the camps and had stories to tell and these records provide us with an important glimpse into a life and experiences of a long past time. One of the lumbermen to heed the call was Patrick Murphy, he was born February 16th 1875 just north of Oxbow Lake. He found his way into the lumber camps as a lad of 16 at what was originally called Old South Branch Camp. This camp was successively called Butters Camp and eventually Peachville and was a stop on the old M&O Railroad (Miserbale & Ornery). When he started working in the camps in 1891 he earned 20.00 a month plus room and board for 10-12 hour days of long hard work. This camp had about 200 men employed. Murphy related in his story that his first job was stamping logs. This was done with a long handled hammer that had the owner's mark or initials. Stamping the logs was necessary in order to be able to separate the logs and place them in the correct booms at the end of the drive down the river. The dredging down at the South Washington Bridge has unearthed some pine logs form days past that bear the marks of various lumbering Companies that did business in the 19th century here. When the logs were piled high and pushed down some of them get stuck in the mud and many still remain on the bottoms of our local lakes and rivers. Next Murphy cut logs for three winters at the Butters camp before working t the job of wheeling logs to the track at Wiley south of Scottville. The Big Wheels were 8 to 10 feet in diameter and had been invented and were manufactured in Manistee. Wheeling paid 26.00 a month because it was considered one of the most dangerous jobs. Murphy describes the job as such " The wheels were secured by a wing chain and backed over a pile of logs. The canary, a three eighth's rod with a hand hook on one end and a hook on the other was hooked in the swing chain when the load was on the skid. The canary went under the load and was hooked by a man who as on the other side who secured it on the pull swing chain, pulling it through to the other side and hooking it on the axe. "The Tongue was pulled down by horses, held by the men and the wrapping chainon the logs and tongue held the logs so they could be moved to the skidway. Wheeling lasted until the fourth of July when the horses got a rest." End of part one: Lumbering Days Recalled 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. Pic1 A couple lumberjacks starting to peel bark off from a log Pic2 Silas Overpack's Big Wheels with a load of logs Pic3 Loading Logs at Peachville on the M&O Line Pic4 A Locomotive on the M&O Railway

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