Timber and lumber Jacks in America part 2

Door San Daniel gepubliceerd in Verhalen en Poëzie



A few years ago I came across photos from a special collection and I wrote an article about the Lumberjack, an often-expelled hard-working worker who cut down incredibly large trees by hand. (see wood vests 1900). A special early collection of black and white photos was released from the collection of the heirs of the photographer A.W. Ericson. Photos that had been stored for years in an archive of De Humboldt State University of California. Now after a few more years, a new part of the collection has been opened, with images from an even earlier time.


What kind of men were the Lumberjacks? Mainly people with problems or without accommodation. Those who had fled the responsibilities of society.


Men who sought their salvation in the bush and became as strong as can be. People who had a past, who were on the run and were looking for camaraderie and a new life in the bush.


Outside the cities only 1 law applied, the law of the strongest. The work was hard, almost insurmountable. The lumberjacks stayed in the bush for years. Some never left the bush and traveled with the crew and left felled forests behind.


 Between 1800 and 1900 it became a habit to have you photographed as a lumberjack or alone or with your team, on a tree stump. In the spirit of 'we have done it'.


Use was made of irons that drove a wedge and the 'two-man saw'.


That sawing had to happen rhythmically. A lot of wood was needed in those days, as the population showed an enormous increase and houses were built mainly from wood.


It was rough work and the lumber jacks soon got the reputation of being tough, that was also necessary if you take into account the miserable working conditions.


They lived in tents and a camp often consisted of 100 lumber jacks. After 1930 it was forbidden to cut down the giant Sequoia trees, as it was realized that some of them were more than 1000 years old and it would take just as long before they were 'back' again.


There were few safety regulations. When a tree "went down" timber was shouted and then the men dived, that was actually the only precautionary measure.


If you were lucky then you could transport the felled trees over the water .. Let them float downstream, often you would find a sawmill at the river mouth. But if you didn't have that luck as a company, then it had to be transported by horse and carriage.


Trees were also loaded on sleds in colder areas and were moved with the necessary horsepower.


It is a good thing that the Sequoia is now a protected tree, there is no need to fell it, the tree is now seen as part of American heritage.


Bush adventure is still reflected in the checkered lumberjack shirts today. It wants to reflect the prowess and toughness of these early pioneers, but in reality the men died in the bush far away from hospitals or doctors. There was little to be envied and you can wear a lumberjack shirt but ... but ... that doesn't make you a lumberjack. At most it shows that you identify with the men of steel who searched and cut their way through the forests of America.

San Daniel 2020

17/02/2020 07:19

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