Mary's Logging Photo Gallery

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Early Logging — Colonial Days


Lumbermen used oxen to haul logs from the mid-1600s until the late 1800s.

Three-cornered intersection
Oxen hauled huge pine trees out of the woods to be used for ships’ masts. They passed through towns and villages on the way to mast depots by the ocean shore. Because the pines were more than 100 feet long, oxen had to swing wide to turn corners. Large triangular areas were left open in the middle of town. Some still exist, such as this three-cornered intersection in southern Maine.


Tate House

Portland, Maine was one center for shipping mast pines for British Navy ships. England sent mast agents to America to supervise the trade. This home was built in 1755 for mast agent, George Tate. The house overlooks an inlet where a large mast depot was built. Today it is a museum..



Draft horses

Horses replaced oxen in the woods in the 1800s. A draft horse weighs up to a ton. Teams of two or four horses pulled heavy loads of logs.


1820s logging cabin

Some of the earliest logging cabins in Maine looked like this one, 1820s-style. Woodsmen slept on evergreen boughs on a dirt floor and cooked their meals over an open fire. They spent the winter in the woods.

Boy and pony with logging sled



By the early 1900s, logging camps grew larger and families moved in. My father grew up in a logging camp in northern New Hampshire. He ran a make-believe logging operation with his pony and a toy-sized sled. He was about 6 years old in this photo.

Log hauler
About 1900, machines entered the woods. Men drove steam-driven log haulers to move logs from the deep woods to riverbanks or sawmills. A log hauler could haul eight to ten logging sleds piled with tons of logs!
Log hauler steersman
A log hauler steersman rode up front in the log hauler. He had to steer carefully going down icy slopes. There were no brakes!
Most every sawmill had a fire at some time, particularly steam-powered mills. Smokestacks spewed out sparks and wood easily caught fire. This mill had a band saw, which ran around two huge wheels. You can see one of the wheels in the burned rubble. Piles of logs near the mill were charred.


Burned sawmill


Log scale
 Logs were measured using a variety of “scales.” This scale has 10 spokes 6 inches apart at the outside of the circle. Men rolled it along a log and counted how many times the points hit the log. The 2 long sticks on the other end were separated to fit the diameter of a log. A scaler read the log’s thickness by reading the inches on the ruler.
International Rule
This is called an International Rule. Today, most logs are measured with this type of rule. Even computers use the calculations from this rule. It measures logs that are 8, 10, 12, 14, or 16 feet long. The rule is held up to the end of the log, and the amount of lumber is calculated by the number printed near the scaler’s finger, using the correct line of numbers. This log is 16 feet long, so the bottom line of numbers is used. To measure a 14-foot log, you would use the line above it. Calculations for a 12-foot log are on the top line. Measurements for 8- and 10-foot logs are on the other side of the rule.
Tree Harvesting Today

Portable saw

These days portable saws are sometimes taken into the woods. Limbs and branches are often put through a chipper and the chips are sent to pulp mills to make paper.


Current tree harvesting machine

Huge machines are used to harvest trees today. An operator sits inside the cab and can move the mechanical arm all around to cut the selected trees, leaving the rest unharmed. After cutting the tree, the long arm reaches to a pile where the tree is dropped.
Truck loaded with logs
Log trucks travel New England roads daily, going to sawmills to make lumber or to pulp mills to make paper.
Sawing Logs into Boards

Unloading logs at a sawmill

This red logging truck is nearly finished unloading a load of logs at a sawmill.



Gang saw
In the sawmill, after the main saw cuts a big log into a square chunk of lumber, a gang saw cuts it into thin boards. A gang saw is a row of up-and-down saws that work together on a single frame. They became common in the mid-1800s. This one has 24 saws and cuts 1-inch-thick pine boards.
Placing sticks between layers of boards
Today much lumber is dried in drying chambers, called kilns. These men are placing sticks between layers of newly-cut pine boards so air can circulate around the boards when they go into the kiln. They will dry for about 6 days at 120ºF.

This is the sorting room in a large sawmill in Maine. Boards are inspected and sold by several different grades. The top grade goes into one stack, while lower grades go into other stacks.

Sorting room in a sawmill
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