For a number of years some of my dad’s family worked in the lumber business like so many other people from the area near International Falls, Minnesota and northern Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. Much of the lumber was then sent to the Sawmill and Paper mill in International Falls. The year was somewhere around 1912, and the equipment used was not like what is used in the lumber business of today. After the logs were dragged or “skidded” to the railroad, they were loaded on to the rail cars by a Yarder. A Yarder was a machine that traveled on railroads knows as “dummy lines” to the site where the logs were to be loaded. These machines appeared to be large and cumbersome, they were in reality, workhorses that could handle big jobs. Once the logs were hooked to the cables, the log could be skidded at a rate of 1000 feet per minute…making work around the machines, rather dangerous. Once the log was near the rail car, men and machines had to work together using cables and poles to load the logs onto the railroad car. Once again, this put the men in harm’s way. If a log slipped, it was very likely that it was going to hit someone, resulting in death or at the very least, serious injury.
I’m not sure what my dad’s family member’s jobs were in that industry, but that would have been around the time they were working in that industry. Logging has always been a dangerous industry to be in anyway, due to the large trees falling. You can’t always predict exactly where they are going to fall, although they know more about that these days than they used to. Still, the thought of a log being pulled from one point to another at the rate of 1,000 feet a minute and having someone in the way of that…makes me cringe!!
When I was watching some of the old home movies from Bob’s family, I saw that some of them were in that same industry for a time. There was a stark difference in the way trees were moved from place to place. The Harvester was able to go up into the area where the trees were being cut, and bring them down to the loader. The loader being on wheels, with a Diesel engine, was them able to lift the logs onto the trucks, without the need to “skid” them closer. No one needed to be around to work cables or anything else to get the logs on the truck. It made for a much safer situation for everyone concerned. Of course, every invention that we now had, came from a need seen by someone in the past, so I guess we have those loggers in the old days to thank for the safer conditions we now have. I’m just thankful that my ancestors lived through the time they spent in that industry.