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It is 1873, and you are the owner of Ajax Logging Company.  How do you get the trees from the forest to the mill?

Logging Camp and Shanty Boys

First, you send timber cruisers to look for a new stand of pine. They discover 40 acres near the Muskegon River that contain cork pine.  Your company purchases the land from the government.  The next task is to establish a temporary logging camp at the site.  The camp includes a bunkhouse, a stable, a blacksmith shop, and a cookhouse.  The bunkhouse is home to the shanty boys who work six days a week, and they are paid about $25 a month. A shanty boy’s typical day begins before dawn.  After a hearty breakfast, the men head into the forest.  Using double-edged exes and crosscut saws, the shanty boys cut the biggest trees.  Next, they hack off the branches and cut the trees into shorter logs.

Look Closer

What do you see in the photograph? What do you notice?

Two young men standing beside a tree with axes in their hands.

Moving logs to the Sawmill

It isn’t easy to get these huge logs out of the woods. First, water is sprinkled on the snow-covered roads.  This makes them icy so it is easier to slide the large logs out of the woods. Next, teamsters use horse-drawn sleighs to move the logs on the banks of the frozen river. The logs are then stacked along the riverbanks.

In the spring, men push the logs into the melting river.  River hogs, ride the logs to the sawmill in Muskegon.  As the logs arrive at the mouth of the river, boomers sort out the Ajax Logging Company logs.  Finally, the logs are left to float downriver to the company sawmill where a circular saw cuts them into boards.  Men stack the boards to dry before until it’s time to ship them to Chicago.
After all of this, the Ajax Logging Company will move on to another parcel of land that the timber cruisers have already discovered.

Look Closer

What do you see in the photograph? What do you notice?

Black and white image of men standing on logs in a river

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