Archive for May 6th, 2016

Portrait of a Group of LumberjacksI’ve got a soft spot for pictures of lumbermen.  I’ve written here before about my great-grandfather, Gilbert Perry, who was a pioneer in the Adirondack logging of the late 1800’s.  It was in the days before chainsaws and gas-powered tractors when everything was done with axes, crosscut saws, teams of horses and the brute force of large crews of men.  My aunt once had a photo of him alongside a huge stack of logs atop a horse-drawn sled but it was lost before I able to see it.

But besides Gilbert, early loggers from the Eastern forests are pretty numerous in my family and in my wife’s family.  I am always surprised at how many turn up when I am doing research. Being a lumberjack was a rough and dangerous job, one that was romanticized in the late 1800’s in magazines such as Harper’s Weekly and the Atlantic as the Eastern equivalent of the Western cowboys of that time.

A number of those in our families lost their lives in the forests.  Among them, Cheri’s great-grandfather was crushed beneath a large log and died before he could be extracted.  I read an account of a great-uncle of mine in the Pennsylvania Black Forest whose leg was crushed between two logs in a sluice that was being used to move them.  The article tells how they  rushed him to a train and sped at breakneck speeds towards Williamsport trying to save him.  Unfortunately,  he passed away as they pulled into the city.

So whenever I run across a photo from of early lumberjacks I have to stop and take a look.  I don’t know anything about the photo at the top, when or where it was taken.  I suspect it’s from around the turn of the century but whether it is from the Eastern forests, the Northwest or the great forests of the upper Midwest is beyond me.  Regardless, it’s just a great photo on so many levels and is one of my new favorites.

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