Some Common woods used in the lumber industry were maple, beech, yellow birch, white pine, red spruce, hemlock, white ash, black cherry, red maple.
The industry began in 1813 in the
Common tools and terms:
Booms are strings of logs chained together to form a barrier until it is floated downstream.
Calks are cleats with spikes worn by lumberjacks.
A drive was the floating of a load of logs on a river from the forest to the mill in booms.
Jams are tangle of logs in a stream or river
Kedging is to move a boom across the water with a boat.
Logging sleds are heavy sleds used for hauling logs.
A peavy is a tool used for rolling logs that has an iron tipped hook.
Pike poles are long poles with hooks on the end used for moving logs from a boat or river.
Pulp wood is raw material used in a paper mill for making paper.
To skid was to drag logs from the stump to a landing (or skid).
Skidways are frameworks on which logs are piled for storage.
Spuds are tools with metal blades that are used for stripping bark.
Swampers are men who cut trails for skidders and horses to haul the log loads on.
Tote roads are roads used for transporting lumber to and from the camp.
A van was a lumber camp store.
During the months in which the river was thawed, logs were brought to the river by lumberjacks or horses and pike poles. Then the logs were formed into booms, and driven downstream to the nearest mill. Sometimes jams occurred, and kedging might have been used to fix it. Lumberjacks might also go out on the logs and move them if required.
During months when the river couldn’t be used, lumberjacks would skid the logs to landings on logging sleds. Swampers cut these roads so that horses could pull these sleds. Loads were brought to the lumber camps on tote roads, and the logs were stacked on skidways for storage. Pulpwood was shipped to paper mills for making paper, and other woods were brought to lumber yards. Hemlock bark was used for tanning as well, back when the industry was booming.
Certain tools and gear like peavies and calks were used by lumberjacks to make their jobs easier or keep them safe.
Lumbering was a seasonal industry until the twentieth
century due to the extremely cold winters and unforgiving terrain. In January,
lumber was transported on sleds, but when the snow and ice melted in the
spring, logs were released downstream, and were directed to mills. In May, hemlock operations
began, and wood was prepared as pulp, or sawlog
(basic lumber like you would find at
In the 1800s, the only tool used was the axe, and an average of 70 logs a day was a good day’s work for one axeman. In the fall they cut resinous trees such as pines, spruces, and balsams because the sap would flow much less in the fall.
Later, the crosscut saw was widely used, and two skilled men could cut 100 trees a day.
A skilled lumberjack could also skid about 50 logs a day. Skidways were usually located on a slope, and a team of horses or oxen drew sleds to the upper ends of skidways.
Loggers kept track of what they had cut by “scaling” logs, that is measuring their mass and volume. A scaler would do this, and mark the results in a ledger or book. A man would then stamp the log with a hammer for identification at the sawmill.
Hemlock bark was used for tanning, another prominent
To learn more about the Adirondack lumber industry and to see some of the tools used, we highly recommend the display in the Adirondack museum in Blue Mountain Lake.