Friday, January 8, 2016

Hauling Logs

As we mentioned in an earlier post, when a tree is chopped down, the work is just beginning. Here we see that after the tree is chopped down, and cut into segments, it must be loaded and hauled to the sawmill. This picture was taken in 1895 in Minnesota. I am surprised that these horses do not look very robust. They look a little on the frail side, and I would have expected some big draft horses.


  1. Thanks, as always, for your picture. Your comment on the horses makes sense, if it were Texas or some other, warmer climate. Notice this is winter in Minnesota, given the snow on the ground. I see no wheels, so the logs are undoubtedly on a sledge. This would make it easier to pull the heavy load. As I said in response to an earlier picture, the logs were only taken as far as the nearest body of water. Logging would only be done near bodies of water. This time of year, the water, as well as the soil, would be frozen solid. The logs were dumped on the river or lake. Only in the spring, after breakup, were the logs floated to the sawmill to be cut into boards or made into shakes. The way logging worked was of necessity different in these northern forests than in Texas and other states where the soil didn't freeze.

    I lived in Wisconsin for 15 years, and my ancestors lived in the upper Midwest from the 1880s on. Even when I lived there in the 1970s, there were no burials in the winter. Funeral chapels had special freezers where coffins were stored until spring, when it was possible for the machines to dig the graves. Funerals were held, but the burials themselves had to wait. The first time I went to such a funeral and was told about the reason there would be no graveside service, I was surprised, having come from a place where it never got cold enough long enough for the soil to freeze.

    Similarly, it can be hard to understand the difference in how logging operated differently in the upper Midwest and, say, the Northwest or Texas, because of the climate. But I've read enough about it now to know that it had to be done differently, just because of the climate. Unless the water and the soil both freeze solid all winter, the methods of logging (and much else) will have to be very different.

  2. I can understand how the horses might get the load moving on an icy surface, and no doubt it was a downhill run to their waterside destination, so I have to imagine the tricky part was in controlling the forward momentum. You don't want the logs getting there before the horses!

  3. It looks like it would have been dangerous work for man or beast!
    -Anne K.