Logging

Drag Saws in the Woods

Eatonville Logger sitting beside his drag saw
Eatonville Logger sitting beside his drag saw

If this piece of logging equipment doesn’t look familiar, it’s because you’re more likely to see in a museum than the woods. This drag saw  was probably used in the 20s or 30s when they hit their stride.

Basically, the engine drags the saw back and forth, as if you were manually sawing down a tree. You can see one in action on this YouTube video.

Drag saws were the labor saving, tool of choice before chain saws hit the scene around in 1940s.

Photos courtesy of the Kjelstad family.

Click on images to enlarge.

Drag saw in operation

Drag saw in operation

Murphy Logging Takes Down a Big Tree (1950s)

Feller at work on enormous tree.
Feller at work on enormous tree.

Here we see a big tree coming down and then paraded by Murphy Logging in the 50s. The tree was so big, it was hauled out on more than one truck.

Eatonville’s, Murphy Logging is no longer in operation, but their photos live on. These six shots have a little for everyone, whether you’re into vintage chainsaws, enjoy seeing what Mashell Ave. looked like in the 1950s or appreciate old logging trucks.

The men posing by the log in the last picture are from left to right, Corbett Hale, Don Murphy and Neil Christensen. If you have more information on these photos, please add your comments.

Good look at all the men at work bringing down large fir.
Good look at all the men at work bringing down large fir.

Photos courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on image to enlarge.

 

 

Men on the stump of the old growth tree.
Men on the stump of the old growth tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parading the tree down Mashell Ave.
Parading the tree down Mashell Ave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murphy Logging truck in front of Christensen Motors on Mashell Ave.
Murphy Logging truck in front of Christensen Motors on Mashell Ave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shot of enormous tree on Murphy's truck on Mashell Ave.
Shot of enormous tree on Murphy's truck on Mashell Ave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Men posing beside the Murphy Logging's tree on Mashell Ave.
(LtoR) Corbett Hale, Don Murphy and Neil Christensen. posing beside the Murphy Logging's tree on Mashell Ave.

Snapshots of Eatonville’s Early Logging (and a few terms)

Earnest Boettcher, saw filier at Cascade Timber
Earnest Boettcher, saw filier at Cascade Timber

Eatonville was built on logging. Here are a few snapshots of the loggers of the early days and a few logging terms that live on today.

Blow Down: 
A tree felled by the wind or some other natural causes.

Bucker:
The logger who cuts the felled logs to size to get the most scale.

Calks: The logger’s classic, high-topped, steel-spiked boot, which gives him steady footing on a fallen log. Not usually worn socially.

Chaser: A person who unhooks the chokers from the logs at the landing.

C. Boettcher bucking (enormous tree to his left)
C. Boettcher bucking (enormous tree to his left)

Choker: A small piece of cable with a knob and fitting bell, used to attach logs to the butt rigging of cable systems or to skidders. Chokerman say a choker is an instrument of torture invented by people who hate loggers.

Eatonvile Lumber Company, Camp 7
Eatonvile Lumber Company, Camp 7

Faller: The person who cuts down the tree.

Grapple: A heavy set of metal tongs with teeth on the inside edge, which can be opened and shut at will by the operator.

Haulback: 
A cable used to carry the butt rigging back to the work site.

Hook Tender: Boss of the rigging crew. Inevitably, the name is shortened to “hooker” which gives rise to hundreds of jokes.

Loader: Also sometimes called a “shovel”. The machine at the landing that loads the log onto the truck.

Peavey: 
A steel-spiked pole with a hinged tong, which provided the leverage necessary to move large logs.

C.  Boettcher fallig crew
C. Boettcher fallig crew

Rigging Crew: 
The group of loggers who handle, set up and maintain cable systems.

Sale: 
A definite amount of lumber put up fro sale by bid. Also the site on which the timber is standing.

Scaler: The person who determines the amount of footage in a log.

Skidder: A machine, either rubber-tired or tracked, used to drag logs to the landing.

Springboard:
A lightly flexible, iron-shod, strong board, that’s inserted into a notch chopped into a tree and used as a precarious platform from which the tree is felled. A relic of hand-power days, it now has only a few practitioners

Logging — 1902 to 1970

Eatonville logging in 1902
Eatonville logging in 1902 — George Martin is the teamster and Clyde Williams is the passenger

Logging was vital to Eatonville form the very beginning. Here are a few pictures covering seven decades of logging.

Photo #1: This first picture was taken September 1902, and the log is headed off for the Eatonville Saw Mill. (The men might have hit the Brewery behind the hotel afterwards.)

Photo #2: I’m not sure of the date, but it’s Clyde Williams on the right helping fall this enormous fir tree.

Photo #3: In the early 1900’s the steam donkey was quickly replacing horses . Here is C. Boettcher operating a yarder with a steam engine.

Photo #4: Around 1950 we have Murphy’s Logging Company showing of a one-log load. The truck is parked in front of Christensen Motors (where Sears stands today).

Clyde Williams on right helping fall a tree
Clyde Williams on right helping fall a tree

Photo #5. Dick Taylor, who was also Eatonville’s fire chief for 12 years, stands in front of this load of Weyerhaeuser wood.

Photos courtesy of Williams family, Taylor Family and Pat Van Eaton

Click on images to enlarge.

C. Boettcher on Yarder —  Glenn Parks Operator
C. Boettcher on Yarder — Glenn Parks Operator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murphy Logging Company's one-log load
Murphy Logging Company's one-log load

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dick Taylor with load of Weyerhaeuser wood, 1970
Dick Taylor with load of Weyerhaeuser wood, 1970

The first tree cut in Eatonville . . . well maybe

One of the first trees cut in Eatonville
One of the first trees cut in Eatonville

The caption that went with this photo was “First tree cut in Eatonville location near Depot”. Judging by the trees that have been felled around it, it wasn’t the first. But it was definitely a big one and one of the first.

The photo below shows the same spot and the Depot in 1918 — not too many years later.

The Depot is no longer standing, but Pat Van Eaton tells me it stood on the corner of Madison Ave. and Center Street (then Groe), across the street from where Arrow Lumber is now.

Photos courtesy of Gary Henricksen and Pat Van Eaton.

Click on images to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

Eatonville Railroad depot around 1918
Eatonville Railroad depot around 1918

Willie Boettcher and Some Home Surgery

George & Willie Boettcher and a giant tree
George & Willie Boettcher and a giant tree

This story was told to me by Dr. Tom Van Eaton. I’ll try to do it justice.

Willie Boettcher was a woodsman. Like the rest of his family, he was used to big trees and bigger blades.

He lived in Alder and while he was out in his backyard one day, he slipped and fell on an ax. The blade was pointing upward and caught him in the stomach. It cut him wide open and — not to get too graphic — organs were spilling out.

There was no time to get to a hospital, but luckily his sister Minnie Boettcher knew what to do. She brought him inside the house, got boiling water going and spent the next hour and half cleaning the wound, and removing dirt and needles. Throughout it all, the wound kept bleeding, but Willie hung on. Once Minnie was finished, she stitched him up with a handful big stitches. Miraculously, Willie survived.

Doctor Tom says Willie couldn’t have gotten better treatment from a hospital at the time.

George & Willie Boettcher sitting inside an old growth tree
George & Willie Boettcher sitting inside an old growth tree

Minnie came from Germany, where medicine was fairly advanced — especially when it came to dealing with bacteria. German doctor, Robert Koch in 1882 had proved bacteria was the cause of many diseases. Germans quickly learned that cleaning wounds thoroughly could stave off infection. In Willie’s case, because the wound kept bleeding, it also helped clean the wound and reduced his risk of infection.

Even though Willie survived, he never went back in the woods. It was too dangerous. Instead, he opened a pool hall in Elbe.

Photos courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on images to enlarge.

 

Three-Wheel Logging Truck

Early three-wheel logging truck
Early three-wheel logging truck

I’m not sure what is more amazing about this Eatonville logging photo: the hard rubber tires, the fact that this vehicle only has three tires, or the size of the log, which looks like it could easily crush this early logging truck.

Logging trucks started showing up in the early 1900’s. I don’t know anything about this particular model, but it shows up on other history sites, like one about nearby  logging in Sammamish.

Interesting fact: Many of the early logging trucks had no doors on the driver’s side. Why? Because early trucks had almost no brakes. If a truck suddenly lost control coming down a hill, the driver needed to be able to quickly bail out.

Another interesting fact: Loggers were cutting more spruce trees in the 1910s because that’s what airplanes were made out of then. Spruce logging for airplanes became particularly important once America entered WWI in 1917.

Old Sammamish logging truck
Old Sammamish logging truck

Photo courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on image to enlarge.

Lumberman’s Hospital (ca 1920s)

Lumberman's Hospital
Lumberman's Hospital

Recognize this building? It’s the home across from the high school on Mashell, only back in the day it was the Lumberman’s Hospital.

Insurance for Loggers
Dr. A. W. Bridge has a contract with the Eatonville Lumber Company employees where each employee paid $1.00 per month for medical care. Dr. Bridge also had doctors in Kapowsin, Minaerl, Ashford and Morton. (There were no shortage of patients will all the logging taking place.)

In 1923 Dr. Bridge opened offices in Tacoma and in 1926 opened the Bridge Clinic in Tacoma specializing in surgery.

Lumberman's Hospital (across from high school)
Lumberman's Hospital (across from high school)

He continued the hospital in Eatonville until 1932 and had doctors in town until 1946 — the year he retired. All the Bridge Clinic contracts with industrial concerned expired the last week of May, 1946, and the local union signed up with the Pierce County medical Bureau.  (History of Tacoma Eastern Area)

Photos courtesy of Debbie and Gary Saint.

Click on images to enlarge.

Mack Logging Truck — 1920s

1926 Mack Logging Truck
1926 Mack Logging Truck

Loggers have been falling trees from Eatonville to Rainier for generations. This 1926 Mack Truck, must have been quite the rig in it’s time.

The tires are a far cry from today’s commercial truck tires. Here’s a fun video of an old Mack — not as old as the photo though — hauling wood.

I don’t know who this truck belonged to. If you have any information on this photo, please share.

Photo courtesy of Gary & Debbie Saint.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Logging in the 40s

Logging moves from Steam to diesel
Loggers in the 40s with high tech equipment

These loggers thought they were high tech back in the 40s. This photo shows the shift from steam to diesel power in in the woods. Pat Van Eaton says this eliminated the need for water and the fire hazard of burning wood to fire the steam boiler.

Photo was taken about 1942 near National, WA. Courtesy Donna Rahier
The man second to the right is Ed Raysbrook.