Thursday, April 19, 2018

Logging Circa 1920

By the outbreak of World War I, steam power extended the areas that could be profitably logged.  Steam donkeys moved the downed timber as in these photographs from the 1914-1925 era.

Marys River Logging Company train
Logging companies built railroads to the area being logged and used steam engines, not teams of oxen, to transport the timber to the mill.
The opening of the Panama Canal in 1915 lowered the time and cost of transporting lumber to the east coast to replace dwindling supplies of southern pine.

During World War I, Britain and France relied on American supplies of products. By the war's end, Britain alone had purchased more than $3 billion worth of goods from the United States. Ships were needed to transport these goods and to replace those destroyed by the Germans. This created a demand for wood as wooden schooners (2-masted sailing boats) were still used for carrying cargo such as lumber. As west coast shipyards expanded Oregon loggers responded with increased harvests.  For example, Oregon’s production of Sitka spruce increased from 63 million board feet to 215 million board feet during the war years.   

The photo shows a spruce “ships’ knee” being transported from Blodgett to a shipyard in Portland, Oregon.  Ship knees are naturally curved pieces of wood used as braces inside boats.
By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

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