Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Michigan's Lumbertowns: Lumbermen and Laborers in Saginaw, Bay City, and Muskegon, 1870-1905 By Jeremy W. Kilar

Felling Operations in the Woods

In the 1840's,teams of four men worked in the woods. A tree was cut by two ax men. These men, called choppers, would fall the tree parallel to the skid road Once it was on the ground, two men working as swampers would trim the tree, cut off all the branches and top, and remove the bark from one side. At this point, a teamster using a 'go-devil' which was often made from the notch of a tree would hitch up to the log and drag it to the skid way or other collection point.

By 1880, much of the work done with the ax had been replaced by the two-man crosscut saw. The saw was much quicker and did not waste as much lumber. Two men using the newer method could fall fifteen trees a day and buck them into seventy-five logs.

Dr. Kilar describes the process in detail in his Michigan Lumbertowns book linked above.

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