"[History is] a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man." -Percy Bysshe Shelley

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Paul Brenner's interview, the finale

Now the camps in the original logging and then later on. There were many size camps all the way from small family camps which was just a Mother and Dad and maybe some kids and maybe some uncles or maybe they hired a few men. We don't know, there might have been six or eight men all together. And I don't have pictures in the book right now because I'm getting some more processed but they'll be in shortly. What they typically done is they have a series of two buildings on one side was the sleeping and eating quarters and on the other side was the barn for the horses and in between they'd have another roof called a dingo which under which they'd store the hay and whatever else could be kept outside that wouldn't freeze. They may have had other buildings to store stuff in too, built into the ground to keep things from freezing but this double arrangement is very typical. I found a number of camps along the Manitowish River where you could see the foundations of the camps that were built that way.

Here shows probably a family camp for the Patterson Lumber Company over near Park Falls or Fifield. This one shows a Wright Lumber Company camp somewhere on the north shore of Upper Trout, I'm not exactly sure where but I think probably where Campo Fiesta was. Then this is the Chippewa Log and Boom Camp that was on the Manitowish Waters side of the Rest Lake Dam.

These next series of pictures are all dealing with eating. Here shows again a Patterson Lumber family camp where it was just a small crew. And here's another family camp that I don't know where. This is Brooks and Ross Camp Three and Camp Eighteen which were both fairly large substantial camps. Once the railroads got here they built the camps not out of logs but out of lumber. So they could hire bigger crews so they had bigger mess halls. Here's a picture of the mess hall at the Vilas County Lumber Company car camp which was on railroad rails. Here's a Turtle Lake Lumber Company camp, I don't know where for sure.

Now the crews had room and board but the noon meal except on Sunday was right out in the woods. They didn't have them come back into the camp. And they'd have in the wintertime a little sleigh would bring the food out and in the summertime they'd have a little wagon of some kind to bring the food out. Usually it was a young boy or some older man that was maybe crippled or something that had that job. Then the crews would just sit on stumps and logs and stuff and I doubt if the meals were very warm. They didn't have any way of keeping them warm and they didn't give them the time to warm the food up when it got there but it was the best they had. The companies didn't want to waste time to have the men come back into camp to eat so they had them eat right out in the woods. This one is a Brooks and Ross crew up somewhere around Eagle Lake and I counted, I think it was, forty some men sitting in the picture.

On the actual log drives they'd have a little raft or a boat of some kind that they'd built that would have a tent on it. Sometimes a series of two tents and these would go along, float along with the crew and when they'd get to a certain point they'd set up on the bank or usually they'd set up another tent on the bank and they'd have the hot meals for the crews. These guys that were stacking logs would come by and the guys that were riding on the logs keeping them from stalling would come. This one picture shows a crew that was working on top of the logs, on the floating logs, apparently bringing their own lunch and they had an old beat up, they split open a log that was hollow and built a fire to warm up their sandwiches. This other picture with a tent there down, this is Patterson Lumber Company wanigan and they had just come under a bridge and so they had to lower the tent to get under the bridge.

Then at the mills themselves they'd have a boarding house that fed the single men that were working in
the mill and occasionally I guess it would also feed people that were travelling through and stuff like that.

Every major camp and even most of the small camps would have a blacksmith shop. There were always horses or oxen to shoe and there were always axes to fix and cant hooks and just all kinds of things. They were, you'd have two or three men working in a blacksmith shop and they were busy all the time I guess. They were paid slightly more than the regular crew. Probably forty-five bucks a month or something like that plus their room and board. And the men that actually had the teams often were farmers who'd come up and work all winter and he'd get paid thirty bucks a month for himself and he'd get paid ten or fifteen dollars a month for the team.

This next picture down here shows the bigger camps where they had large crews they'd have a man, at least one, that would always be sharpening the crosscut saws. He'd have a little shack of his own in the camp where he'd work and he'd also go out into the woods and sharpen them out there. I don't have a picture of that now but again I have one coming. In another two or three weeks I'd have more pictures in here.

In the case of Brooks and Ross where they had the series of ten or fifteen camps going at the same time, each camp had a foreman to run the camp. If they had ten or twelve camps going at the same time they had what they called a walking boss which was the foreman over the foreman. But because it was a railroad camp he didn't, the old camps that had walking bosses the foreman had to walk between camps. But Brooks and Ross being a railroad camp he had a model "T" Ford that had railroad wheels put on to it and so he could drive from one camp to another.

Now a lot of the camps did not have a big "Y" where the train could turn around so this particular Ford they had a little thing made out of wood that would fit on the rails and on top of that or part of it they'd have a jack and they were able to jack up the Model "T" Ford and swing the Ford around so they didn't have to, then they didn't have to ride backwards to wherever they came from.

Another extra job around the camp was always making firewood. Sometimes they'd come early in the fall before the logging started, at least in the early camps. The early camps the logging only took place in the wintertime, but later on when they had railroads and stuff it went around year round. But anyways they'd come early in the fall or even later on in the winter and just make firewood out of the hardwood and birch and stuff. All the buildings were heated by stoves and the cooking was all done by wood and stuff and so there was a tremendous amount of firewood that had to be made.

This other picture of these three ladies, I'm not sure exactly what this is, either they were making, it looks like a big cedar and they were either making cedar shingles by hand which I don't think is right or they may have been cooks and made cedar firewood which would burn up pretty fast but it would give a lot of heat.

This other picture here, I'm pretty sure, is a crew washing clothes. It's got this big kettle over a fire and I'm looking for a better picture where we could tell better but once in a great while the guys would take a bath or wash their clothes because they all had lice in the camps and stuff so this may or may not be a picture of them washing clothes. Sunday was a day of rest in the camps and this particular picture shows, this is a Brooks and Ross picture again I think it's at Camp Three, it shows men both getting haircuts and a shave and stuff. Occasionally they'd have a preacher that would come to the camp and stuff like that. They'd occasionally have entertainment probably Saturday night, or maybe Sunday, where a man would have a fiddle and maybe some other instruments but usually was just fiddles and stuff. I guess occasionally they even had dances amongst themselves.

Now the rest of these pictures deal with the actual saw mills that were in our area. These all came in after the railroads got here. I don't have pictures of all the mills but this one, there was a small mill the Buswell Manufacturing Company which was on the southwest corner of Papoose Lake. This mill was started no earlier than 1905 and probably actually didn't start until 1907 from some information we had. And it sawed, I don't know if it just sawed hardwood but I know it hardwood because we looked in the water for logs with marks on and all we were able to find we didn't find any marks but we did find birch logs down there without marks on them. But anyways it had a mill and a planning mill. These are the only five pictures I've been able to find of the Buswell Mill. It only lasted until 1910 when one of the big fires that went through the area burnt the mill and the town and they never rebuilt the mill. He continued sawing logs in the woods maybe to salvage some of the stuff that was burned by the fires and maybe some of his land wasn't touched by fires but he shipped the logs down to some company down in Wausau and had them sawed down there.

There were two big main mills in the area, well there were a number of them. There was one at Flambeau, there was one over at Star Lake, there was one at Arbor Vitae on Big Arbor Vitae Lake and there was one at Hazelhurst I think on Lake Katherine but in the Boulder Junction area there were two large mills. One was at on Turtle Lake which was the Turtle Lake Lumber Company at Winchester and then the Vilas County Lumber Company which was at Fosterville which was later renamed Wineger and then eventually became Presque Isle. Mr. Foster ran the mill for three or four years and apparently was having problems and then Mr. Wineger bought out his interests and then the town became Wineger. And so these next series of pictures show, it's hard to describe them by talking, but it shows the different views of the mill. Some of the logs were sleighed into the mill, at least at Fosterville. But the majority of the stuff was brought in by rail because they had their own engine and they had railroad stock and stuff like that. Both those mills had planning mills. They also on the slabs, the short pieces that were four feet long and had any diameter to them at all they'd make laths out of them which were used a long time ago in houses where they'd plaster houses and they'd also be used in snow fences and stuff like that. In the case at least of Wineger or Fosterville some of the slabs were sawed up into firewood lengths and undoubtedly sold to the families that were working in the mill. These mill owners they didn't miss a beat, they got money wherever they could. The mills actually were run with slabs too would run a big generator a steam engine which would run all the equipment in the mill plus the generator for lights in the town. This one particular picture here of the mill at Turtle Lake is a winter picture and you can see steam coming out of the water. Most of the lake is frozen but they would run steam lines out into the water for a small area which they called the hot pond and then as the trains came in with logs they dumped the logs in the water. I don't think the water was real warm but it was at least warm enough so that it wouldn't freeze. What it did was take off some of the ice and mud and stuff off the logs which helped save the blades in the mill. Later on years after the original logging they debarked the logs with mechanical means or with steam and stuff to do the same thing but back in them days they didn't have that kind of equipment.

There's a few more pictures of the Turtle Lake Lumber Company, here's one when they were just about done. It still working because you can still see steam coming out of one of the pipes but there's a herd of cows walking along the edge where they use to store logs so it must have been quite late. I think the mill ran 'til 1926 and I suspect this could only have been the last year or two. Maybe the planing mill was still running I don't know.

Now here's some other parts of things in the mill. This shows the big bull chain which came out of the hot pond. The logs were put on this chain which ran up to the second story of the mill where the boards were sawed and then by gravity and rollers and stuff the boards were reside into different widths and lengths and edged so that the bark would be all off of it. And by gravity and rollers it went down to the first story and then eventually went out by belts along the way where the men would sort the boards and put them on different wheeled carts by different widths and different lengths. These were all stored separately, in separate piles in the yard where they stored lumber.

These five or six men here at the millpond, it was their job to keep the logs going up the bull chain. This other picture shows the barns that all the horses that were used in the mill yard which were considerable, they had all these carts that were hauling the logs or the boards around and plus others that they used.

Now these particular pictures aren't very good they show the interior of the mills at both Turtle Lake and at Vilas County Lumber Company. I'm still looking for some better pictures of the inside scenes. Now here's a picture of the lath mill at Turtle Lake. Again you can see that all they needed was stuff that would be at least an inch square plus four feet long so they didn't waste as much wood as they all talked about. This picture here, I'm not sure where it was but it was probably a hardwood mill and they did the same thing with the slabs there where they were able to and they made broom handles and hammer handles and everything. They salvaged everything they could.

Now here is a series of four or five pictures that showed the steam engine at the Turtle Lake Lumber Company. Now I'm not knowledgeable about engines but somebody I know said there was a thirty-two inch piston in this one engine and it looks like it could easily be. One of the interesting things about these two pictures it shows the engineer both as a reasonable young man and as a much older man so he apparently was the only engineer that they had from roughly 1905 to 1926 which was the time that the mill ran. Here is a side view of the same engine and then here this next picture shows the belt that came off the main wheel of the engine. I would guess it has to be twelve to fourteen or sixteen inch width on that belt. It couldn't be less than twelve and it's probably a little wider than that. This is the belt that ran all of the equipment in the mill plus the generator for all the lights and stuff in the town and in the mill.

Here is a series of pictures of the lumber stacked in the yard. They air dried stuff and no doubt some of it was sold as rough lumber but a lot of it was eventually brought back into the mill and planed and then sold at a higher price as planed lumber.

Here's that picture you had on your other one and here they're loading a Northwestern Railroad car with lumber. This picture is a lumber yard scene but it's from the Patterson Brothers over in Fifield and it shows men cleaning up the bark and stuff. I think what they did actually especially toward Spring when they knew they were going to have frost out and stuff they'd spread a lot of bark and stuff to keep the roads in around the lumber piles from getting into solid mud and then after a while they'd clean it up because it would be a fire hazard. I think that's what they're doing in this particular picture.

They also in the hardwood mills they'd any of the cold hardwoods they'd saw into railroad ties. Now I don't have anything showing them sawing it but this one picture here shows them loading railroad cars full of ties with some kind of a mechanical hoist. But the Patterson Lumber Company apparently wasn't that big an outfit and so these guys would carry the ties on their shoulders up to the cars.

Most of the mills had shingle mills also where they made cedar shingles. This one picture shows and says "forty thousand shingles" which was down in Arbor Vitae. Again I don't have many pictures dealing with the shingle mills at all. I'm still looking for lots of stuff.

Now this last few pictures in the album. All the main companies had their own company store. In fact they had their own company money and most of the people that worked in the mills at least and maybe even in the camps they really didn't have a lot of choice about where they could shop and stuff. Now in the camps they were fed but they still had to buy clothing and things like that. So another angle that these companies made money on was the clothing and food and stuff that they sold at these company stores and they were fairly extensive I guess.

This one picture on the side here shows the first car, first automobile, at the Winchester Company store and it's dated September 23, 1914. It shows, I think, a Model "T" Ford, I'm not knowledgeable about models. On the wheels they have chains and I suspect the roads were not anything extra back in them days.

Now here's some inside pictures up above here of the Turtle Lake Lumber Company store and then down below here is the Vilas County Lumber Company store. I don't know if they had a separate store for food. This looks all like dry goods and tobacco and things like that in these two pictures so whether they had another store or we just don't see the groceries I'm just not sure but I'm sure they sold groceries in the stores too.

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