19th Century, 20th Century, History, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, Logging, Men, Minnesota, omnipresent history

Lumbering Maximum 1900

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1900

“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.” “ **

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’s reclassify from “sustainable” to “exploitive”? Hear my questions, Lord, and forgive us all our attempted harvests without Sabbaths of Your forests!

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

**  Stottrup, Joel. “Logging White Pine.” Princeton Union-Eagle, May 1993. Web. 20 June 2013. http://www.baldwintownship.govoffice.com/index.asp?

 

 

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19th Century, History, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, Logging, Minnesota, Mississippi River

Giant Logjam 1894

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1894

“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? 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 forgive us this offense, and the judgements of those upriver, downriver, or in the office?

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

**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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19th Century, Business, History, Intercession, Logging, Minnesota, omnipresent history

Lumber Giant 1891

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1891

“German immigrant Frederick Weyerhaeuser, one of the most powerful men in American lumbering, moves his offices to St. Paul. Skilled at bringing competitors together in huge undertakings, he makes heavy investments in Minnesota timber and mills before moving on to the Pacific Northwest.” * 

Lord, I believe every person makes an impact on the future. Therefore, every Minnesotan has made an impact this state and it’s consciousness. I am a bit awed by the impact Weyerhauser made on St. Paul and Minnesota!

I can imagine the moxie it took to set up the processing of all the logs that were floated down the Mississippi. Or to have the courage to sign a land deed to purchase 900,000 acres. That’s an astronomical responsibility.

When a man or woman is so dedicated and effective in their field, they cultivate both admirers and critics. Will You forgive St. Paul and all areas that Mr. Weyerhauser impacted of our judgments’ towards him? Will You also forgive any injustices committed by him, or his company towards Minnesotans? We, too often, love the ideal of success, but are fearful and jealous of the successful in practice. Forgive us this foible! 

May You bless the heritage of Weyerhauser and all who partook in the logging industry on the Mississippi! May we learn from their mistakes, and have Your insights on how to better use our land, timber, and all wood by-products. Thank You for this precious resource! 

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

 

 

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19th Century, Business, Economics, History, Industry, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota

Timber industry begins in Minnesota 1839

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More than two-thirds of Minnesota is covered with trees when Minnesota’s first commercial sawmill is constructed at Marine on St. Croix–the beginning of Minnesota’s first industry.

On the east side of the Mississippi, a vast forest of pine and other evergreens stretches to the Canadian border. Many white pine along the St. Croix River are 200 feet tall and five feet in diameter.*

Jesus, thanks for our timber resources in Minnesota. Thank you for all who have, who are at present, or who will work in our forests in the future! Will You send your blessing into every place where Your Minnesota forests have gone: furniture, homes, barns, fences, etc.? Will You bless every recipient of Minnesota wood as You chop the roots of blame, and judgment, grudge and jealousy, envy and anger?

As you said in Romans 11:16b “…if the root is holy; so are the branches.” At present, will You forgive any worship of nature itself, and the lack of acknowledgement of to the Creator of the Woods? I’m guilty Lord too: we love stuff and use people instead of loving people and using stuff! Have mercy!

*Note – PrayThroughHistory uses the timeline located for several years at the Minnesota Historical Society Web site, at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm .  The current URL is www.dipity.com/Minnesota/History/Minnesota-History/ and only works if typed, not pasted, in browser. It is worth the effort!

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