20th Century, Environment, Exploration, government, History, Intercession, Jesus, Logging, Minnesota, Natural Science, Uncategorized

Minnesota Forest Reserve 1902

living-legacy

Surveyor Josiah A. King and crew.****

Conservationists win a long fight to establish a 225,000-acre forest reserve where logging will be supervised by the U.S. Bureau of Forestry. In 1928 the reserve’s name is changed to the Chippewa National Forest.
One of the treasures of Northern Minnesota is an area of Chippewa National forest known as “the Lost Forty’. Actually, it is an area of 144 acres that were somehow missed by surveyor Josiah A. King in 1882. His three man crew faced chilling weather, slogged through swamps, and it is not unlikely they were missed in exhaustion.*

“In 1882, a land surveyor by the name of Josiah A. King, and his three-man crew, traveled 40 miles from the nearest white settlement called “the Grand Rapids of the Mississippi.” For a month, canvas tents were their homes, and flour, pork, beans, and dried apples their rations. Josiah and his crew were finishing the last of three contracted townships in one of the first land surveys of Minnesota’s north woods.
As the November winds blew around the crew, they surveyed a six square mile area between Moose and Coddington Lakes. Perhaps it was the chilling weather, or all of the desolate swamps around them, but the crew became confused, and they ended up plotting Coddington Lake about a half mile further northwest than it was actually located. Josiah’s crew’s error is Minnesota’s great fortune.
As a result, these towering pines were mapped as a body of water, and the virgin pine in this area was overlooked by the hungry logging companies. Afterall, what logging company would want to pay for swamp land. This parcel of land became known as “The Lost Forty” and went untouched by loggers. It is now managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources under their Scientific & Natural Areas Program.”**

Father, You have encouraged us to have places of rest, and even have commanded that the land should be given rest. Parts of the Pentateuch that are despised as being outdated, finicky, and overly legalistic by some are the same verses that declare a Sabbath for the land and animals. Scientists in the 20th century were able to confirm the wisdom of these books of “myth”. Elements and minerals in the soil are depleted by overuse; giving the land a rest actually increases yields in the long run. Again, You already made us this promise in antiquity, and science finally has caught up.

Lord, I see the Chippewa Forest as a reflection of this heart of rest. Within this forest, the Lost Forty are a time capsule giving testimony to what existed in Your natural balance. Thank You for holy, set-aside places like these! Thank You that the error of the surveyors may well have been Your providence and plan to show off Your handiwork to their progeny.

We see what the forest could continue to yield if harvested within Your boundaries. Will You forgive the impatience demonstrated in the harvesting of these northern forests of Minnesota? Will You give wisdom and balance to those who have an interest in these forests, whether political, environmental, economical, or spiritual? Will You give us this day a reserve of energy, of time, of thought to relax with our Creator? Will You forgive us where we are resistant to solitude, to quietness, to contemplation of our lives in the state of Minnesota? Will You help us hear Your voice calling from antiquity, ‘Your harvest’s aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year.” NASB Leviticus 25:5***

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**http://www.minnesotafunfacts.com/minnesota-geography/the-lost-40-a-minnesota-forest-legacy/

***http://biblehub.com/leviticus/25-5.htm

****Photo of Josiah King courtesy of Liberty Pines Ranch https://libertypinesranch.com/category/the-great-outdoors/the-hike/

 

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19th Century, 20th Century, Environment, History, Intercession, Jesus, Logging, Men, Minnesota

Lumbering Maximum 1900

Unknown

At the height of the lumbering era, 40,000 lumberjacks are cutting timber in the north woods. Minneapolis is the sawmill capital of the world, cutting enough lumber to fill 65,000 freight cars. But Minnesota is running out of pine; within twenty years the lumber industry will be dead in Minneapolis.*

This interesting oral history by Jim and Bernard Pearson describes the day-to-day lives of the men logging in Northern Minnesota during this era.

“The Pearsons showed their audience old tools of the logging camps.  There was the pickaroon the camp blacksmith made from a worn-out ax which was used to pull logs by hand.  There was also a grub hoe for removing brush by hand, a broad as to square up logs for building log structures, a cant hook for turning logs, and a come-a-long for lifting logs by hand.

The cutting of the logs was done in the winter when sleds could be used to pull the logs from the woods to a river to float them downstream to a sawmill in the spring when the water ran fast.

Loggers didn’t rely just on the frozen ground to sled out the logs, according to the Pearsons, but constructed troughs of ice for the runners.  The troughs were made by hooking a plow to the side of a sled to make troughs in the snow in which water was poured to form ice.  These troughs had to be continuously built up throughout the winter, the Pearsons said.
The Pearsons also talked about the care of horses, which were vital to the logging.  Jim told how some of the loggers would carry a ballpeen hammer to tap snow out of horseshoes.

“My uncle especially loved animals, and his horses were very big,” Jim recalled.  “If any teamster (driver) mistreated his horses, they went down the road (were fired) so fast they didn’t now what happened.”

(Jim) described the lumberjacks as hard working and very honest individuals, who had always given their best.

But Bernard, during the interview last week, also portrayed some of the lumberjacks and logging camp operators as not so honest.

Bernard said, for example, that in the worst camps, the operator would hire someone to gather up workers for the winter season that included dropping a knock-out pill into a man’s drink in a saloon.  “The next thing the man would know he was in a logging camp way up north,” said Bernard.  “There were rascals on both sides.” “

Stottrup, Joel. “Logging White Pine.” Princeton Union-Eagle, May 1993. Web. 20 June 2013. <http://www.baldwintownship.govoffice.com/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC%7BB61F42FB-82B1-4356-B678-16C2642C1ED2%7D&gt;

Father, a lot of time and thought has gone into recording the history of the wealthy and powerful “lumber barons”, but it seems not much is known about the men who actually did the work. Will You guide the author into the stream of Your thoughts on the subject? Will You give us a new frame of reference for these Minnesota loggers, and the effect of this massive harvest of trees?

As for the workers, the physicality of their respective jobs inspires awe: cutting huge trees down by saw or axe, squaring logs by hand, loading them on sleds, and moving them to the river. Once at the river, prepped logs were managed on their journey south by the “river pigs”. These were crews of men men who were responsible to float the logs to their proper destination at a plethora of sawmills.

As with many things, logging seems simple in principle, but requires incredible endurance, skill, and risk in practice. Eternal Father, will You honor those who poured their soul into this labor? Will You remember their broken blisters, and aching backs? Will You remember those who took joy in working outside, all day, in the numbing cold?
Will You bless them and their inheritance from this era, to the present, and on to the future?

Another thought, men often feel validated in their masculinity by performing an epic task together. They sail into the unknown, each man privately harboring reservations, but going beyond those self-imposed limitations by the strength that comes when men are part of a team. Lord, thank You for past loggers’ example of this teamwork. Will You strengthen the bonds of men, and forgive us for emasculating our brothers? In the present, we may sit in judgement of these people for their contribution to exhausting magnificent forests through clear-cutting. “What were they thinking? Didn’t they know they were acting like shock troops executing millions of innocents? Why would you kill mother earth over a job?” However, we have the historical vantage point of witnessing that natural resources can be used up, and that human interaction with the environment may yield unseen and unintended consequences.

As a witness to such present attitudes, the author wishes to address with You our use of the term “exploitation” as it applies to past Minnesota logging. Will You forgive us the casual use of this label? Will You forgive us if we unfairly apply present environmental and economic standards on our forbearers? Will You forgive our common humanity in Minnesota of viewing Your forests, that You graciously allow us rights of temporary stewardship, as “our forests” or “our property”? We do not often think of property rights as a continuum of which we are a temporary subset.

Truly, we all are parties in “exploiting” Your forests! We breathe air daily! We live in houses of wood. We write with pencils of wood on paper of cellulose. We use toilet paper, and simultaneously write graffiti on the walls criticizing the “exploiters” of the environment! We apply standards to others that we do not apply to ourselves! We fail to see the log in our own eye, and browbeat others about the speck of sawdust in theirs!

Furthermore, contemporary history does not often enter the mindset of these predecessors. Perhaps in their age, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, people exercised a different logic than ours. They had a much stronger sense of agriculture than those who buy 2×4’s at the lumberyard, or food from a grocery store. If they wanted food, they had to plant it, tend it, and harvest it.

When their corn reached fruition, they harvested it, and took everything. When they saw forests full of mature trees, they brought in the harvest. Is it possible that they trusted that such a generous yield would surely supply their generation?

In the life experience of most of these workmen, most commodities gathered locally were used locally. Is it possible that such workmen did not conceive of the national or international cravings for the White Pine of Minnesota? Were the men working in these logging camps aware that they tree they just felled was to become a floor joist in an English factory? If they were aware, did that make their labor change from “sustainable” to “exploitive”? Hear my questions, Lord, and forgive us all our attempted harvests without Sabbaths of Your forests!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

 

 

 

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19th Century, Environment, History, Intercession, Jesus, Logging, Minnesota, Natural Disaster, Uncategorized

Fire Destroys Hinckley and Sandstone

Unknown-2

Sep 1, 1894
Extremely dry conditions, high winds, and acres of tender-dry “slash” left over from timber cutting, combine to create a horrific fire with walls of flame 200 feet high reaching temperatures of 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit. Four hundred thirty six persons were known to have died and both towns were completely destroyed. Only the heroic actions of a number of railway employees, who evacuated several hundred residents, kept the death toll from being much higher. This was among the worst disasters in Minnesota history.*

Why is it that You allow adversity, tragedy, and disasters such as this fire, Lord? If this people were dependent on logging and wood products for their livelihood, why would You let it be taken away? Why would You allow this inferno to compound their grief by such a dramatic loss of life?

We often respond to catastrophe with a short-term perspective. Our senses are overloaded, and it is all we can do is observe the wreckage. It is not natural to stop and think, “What good can possibly come from this horror?”

Another typical response is to a painful event of this magnitude is to dissociate ourselves from it. We seek relief usually by one of two routes: responsibility or blame. The first is to rationalize what happened, and escape emotionally by seeking causes and responsibility, all the while remaining a ‘brave’ composure. The second response is to attach to our hearts, but close our minds by assessing ‘guilty’ parties of the blame due them.

I don’t know the hearts of my fellow Minnesotans this day, nor will I attempt to be their psychologist gazing back in judgment from the future. I do trust in Your omnipresent nature, and that this fire, the loss of these lands, people, and property 100-odd years ago remains in Your eternal ‘now’. Will You guide me to intercede Jesus?

Will You forgive those of us who offended You by choosing the pathway of blame? Will you forgive those of us who kept cool heads, were responsible, but never allowed the grief of this day to exit our hearts and consciousness? Will You break the pain that was passed forward into future generations by our lack of forgiveness and resolution?

Will You help us release the idol of control? We often hate what we cannot control. We cannot accept that we cannot control or manipulate our environment to our liking or desired outcome.

According to the Hinckley Fire Museum:
“Because of the dryness of the summer, fires were common in the woods, along railroad tracks and in logging camps where loggers would set fire to their slash to clean up the area before moving on. Some loggers, of course left their debris behind, giving any fire more fuel on which to grow. Saturday, September 1st, 1894 began as another oppressively hot day with fires surrounding the towns and two major fires that were burning about five miles (8 km) to the south. To add to the problem, the temperature inversion that day added to the heat, smoke and gases being held down by the huge layer of cool air above. The two fires managed to join together to make one large fire with flames that licked through the inversion finding the cool air above. That air came rushing down into the fires to create a vortex or tornado of flames which then began to move quickly and grew larger and larger turning into a fierce firestorm. The fire first destroyed the towns of Mission Creek and Brook Park before coming into the town of Hinckley. When it was over the Firestorm had completely destroyed six towns, and over 400 square miles (1,000 km2) lay black and smoldering. The firestorm was so devastating that it lasted only four hours but destroyed everything in its path.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Hinckley_Fire

Will You forgive us as Minnesotans’ for vainly attempting to control our forests? Will You turn this tragic day into a blessing for present and future generations? Will you show us the good fruits of September 1, 1894? Will You kindly help us to manage our inner environments as we manage our external ones?

Unknown-1

PS Lord, Will You honor the everyday heroes like Tommy Dunn?

“One of the many heros of this tragedy was the telegrapher stationed at the St. Paul and Duluth Depot in Hinckley. Tommy Dunn remained loyal to his post and waited for orders. Eventually the very tracks the trains traveled on burned and no orders came. The young telegrapher perished in the fire. He had been determined to save the people of this area. His last know message that he tapped out on his key to the agent in Barnum was “I think I’ve stayed too long” Tommy Dunn had waited until it was too later for his own escape.”

http://www.hinckley.govoffice2.com/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC=%7BFD8DC19D-5036-4403-8C87-061FFE2E781A%7D

 

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

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19th Century, History, Intercession, Jesus, Logging, Minnesota

Giant Logjam 1894

Unknown

Logs bound for sawmills choke the Mississippi River at Little Falls. It takes six months to break up the six-mile-long woodpile.

For the past 50 years, rivers have been the highways that carry logs to the mills. Lumberjacks keep the logs moving and break up jams. Now, small trunk railway lines are also heading deep into the forests to haul out the logs.*

What an apropos metaphor for work! We work hard to improve out lot in life. We take risks and make investments, but our timing can be off, and our productivity grinds to a halt. Forces beyond our control stop our progress, and sometimes years of our efforts are undone?!

Why is this, One Who Orders the Universe? Why do we kill ourselves for a future payoff that may or may not come? Why are we dissatisfied with ’enough’, and push for ‘a little bit more’? Why do others we depend on slack and coast in their work?

Again, thanks that You are a good dad! You gave this land a blessing of trees that were the perfect building material for this climate. You gave this land a blessing of a mighty river to move those trees to others. Thanks that You provide good things for us to use for ourselves and share with others!

Will You forgive us our gluttony for lumber where apropos? Whether it was the loggers, the mills, or the lumber barons it does not matter. You know how each party contributed to this problem. Will You remember and bless all the labor in the forest and on the river: whistle punks, chasers, high climbers, yarders, lumberjacks, lumberjills, woodcutters, shanty boys, woodhicks, river pigs, catty-men, river rats, and river hogs who dealt with this hazardous work? Will You forgive us this offense, and the judgements of those upriver, downriver, or in the middle of the jam?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**Learn more details about this giant logjam and the community of Little Falls, MN? http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89064525/
***How did logging in this era impact the environment?
https://www.ncrs.fs.fed.us/gla/reports/history.htm

 

 

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