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

Friday, October 22, 2010

Memories of Clear Lake with Carol Keller Minch

Interviewer:  Karen Theil

I am interviewing Carol Keller Minch on August 9, 1991 at her cottage on Clear Lake .  And we're going to be talking about some of the things that she remembers from the past as a young girl and as she was growing up up her in the summers. So any time you want to start .

As I recall my folks purchased the property on Clear Lake in 1922 or 1923.  There was no road available into the property and I do recall that they had to stay at Voss' and come in through the channels.  And when he[my father] viewed the property here it was not a question as the west exposure which is a requisite and he also wanted a nice sandy gradual beach, cause after all I was just a youngster at the time, and they had a lot of family friends that came up here with their children.  So when he spotted this property he knew at once that it was what he had been looking for.  It was purchased from a lumber company the name I do not recall .  And they built immediately.  They built a cottage.  The whole upstairs was dormitory size, and we could sleep fourteen (14).

It took a year to build because of the weather , apparently they started later in the season .  And I recall my mother cooking and baking on a kerosene stove that had to be primed.
And every time she'd prime it I'd leave the house I was frightened to death. (you mean she'd have to put more kerosene in it?)  I don't remember what she did but she had to prime it with kerosene and then the flames would shoot up and I would exit the house immediately.

I do remember being in bed one morning and a friend of hers who had offered to make the breakfast for the workmen the next morning, she finally came in and she said "I don't mind making pancakes but when Ted Miller eats 14 pancakes I draw the line".  So the rest of the family had to pitch in.

I do recall a skunk getting into a tin can and walking around with the tin can on his head.  They had to shoot the poor little guy.

Then the next thing on the agenda as I recall was cleaning up the beach area.  We had these huge stumps and of course in those years we didn't have the dam so our beach was quite wide, it was beautiful.  It was a miniature Daytona.  (Did it go down quite farther down than it does now?)  Oh yes we had a wide sand, beautiful beach.  And the way they cleared it is they would pour kerosene or gasoline on these huge  stumps and then ignite them and they'd burn them that way.  And then we would have,  family would have as we called them the wienie roast .  We would have wieners and marshmallows and we would invite our only neighbors who was the Devine family an Indian family over there right off of Haskins bay .  (Now that was Dan Devine?)  That was Dan Devine, his sister Mary and her family.  Dan's parents were still living in what we called the big house on the hill.  And when they would come over they would eat their wienies raw.  They didn't even know enough to toast them.  And that went on for a number of years before we got the beach cleared to their satisfaction.   
( Now how many people, do you remember how many people were in his family?) In the Devine family?  (Yes)  Dan had two daughters and one son and then I remember oh it was maybe seven, eight, nine years later they had a little girl.  So there were four all told.  And from what I understand today none of them are living.  Now Dan was shot by a hunter .  Dan was at the end of our driveway talking to my father and a stray bullet hit him. Ah just missed my father.  Dan was standing next to the open window and it could very well  have happened the other way around.  So my father some how or other got Dan into the car and headed for Ironwood which was the closest medical help.  But he died enroute.  (Now do you remember how old you were when this happened?) I would say this was when I was about 20, 22 years old, it was before I was married.  And then Dan's sister had two beautiful daughters.  Dan's sister's name was Mary Haskins .  Apparently that's where Haskin's Bay got their name.  And the one daughter lived in a new home that was built on the premises over there.  You can see it when you come down the hill off of K and you make a sharp turn to the left it looks  like you're running right into the lake and you make a sharp turn, the first house there was Mary Haskin's home.  She lived there with her husband .  The two girls were long gone, they were married when the house was built.  Both the girls attended Holy Angels High School in Milwaukee.  They did not graduate.  However, they went for a short time.  And we always said that Angie who was the older of the two was a gorgeous, beautiful girl, but she had the mixed blood in her.  And, the other one was a very pretty girl also .  What happened to her I don't know she eventually married the barber in Mercer.  But then we lost track.  I guess they moved away.  (Now these girls were friends of yours when you were little?)  No, well yes they were the only ones I had to play with .  I was very happy when I could look down the beach and see them hidden around the bay there , then I was going to have someone to play with .  Now when I think of how the youngsters have so much going for them up here and I had nothing .  (How did you get together?) Well Dan was (Did you walk?) Yeah we walked over there and Dan of course acted as a guide for my father when he would bring up his business associates.  And Dan was the one who cut the ice in the winter and put it into the ice house so we had some sort of refrigeration for the summer months.

And all the time that I remember as a young girl my father always wanted to build down in the present spot.  So, at the beginning of World War II before he realized what was going on he sold the cottage to ah... Charlie Quarels an attorney from Milwaukee.  And who he knew and who would come up here and fish with my dad and hunt with him and was also a friend of Al Houlton whose cottage was next door to ours at the time. So ah he sold to Charlie Quarrels and started to build down where we are now and couldn't get any lumber.  There was no way he good get anything to build.  So what we are living in now is an improvised Winchester home that he built on to.  But he had to do it piece meal as he could get the lumber consequently we do not have what you would call a typical northern Wisconsin cottage.  (But your first home is that still standing now?)  It's still standing there and Mary Quarrels owns it ,and that's Charly's daughter.  She no longer comes up but the Camps come up and Betsey the one daughter comes up on rare occassions .  (Now what relationship are Camps and Cooks to Mary Quarrels?)  Ah, John Camps and Charlie Camps is the grandson of Charlie Quarrels. (I see) Mary was their mother , who was Charly's daughter.

Then  another thing I recall was Keith's Island.   When my father bought this property and moved up here it was against the ... well his parents really did'nt think this was the best idea for him to come up this far and Grandpa Keller said where are you going to get milk for that child?  So he starts scouting around and he follows the Keith road and comes to a farm .  Well this farm turns out to be owned by the Keith family who have caretakers there.  And we ah dickered with them and they gave us milk every day the Houghtons and either myself or my mother or whoever was here as guests we would walk back , it was a mile walk, and we'd have the little milk pail and we'd get that full of milk and believe me that was milk.  You let it stand and you had cream that was way up to the top.  And we also could get fresh eggs and when it was available, that the family wasn't up and using all of it, why we could get some other goodies, but we were very happy for the eggs and the milk.  (Now, this was over on Big Lake?) This was on Big Lake and this place was owned by the Keiths. It still is in the Keith family.  They're scattered around a lot of the children, grandchildren have their own spots here. But the island is still owned by the Keith's estate I guess.

ah, what else do I recall that would be of interest?  (What about other places on the lake? Were you the only ones here?) No, we had one place across the lake that was owned by the Aikens family and that's where Barb Lindal is now.  She bought that home.  And that was owned by a family from Chicago. And Mrs. Aikens was not enjoying good health at the time that I remember.  And they would fly her up like in June and that was a rarity to see a plane land on Clear Lake. We'd all run like crazy just to witness it.  And then she would be up here for the entire summer and then they would take her back the same way she came.  And that went on for a long time.  Other than that there was no other place, no other place here on Clear Lake.  It was a lonesome life as a child.  And my folks would have would bring up a friend for maybe four to six weeks in the summer months, but that's all I had.

(Now how long would you stay?)  They would take me out of school before school was over with in June.  And then we would go back the end of August, well right after Labor Day. The day after Labor Day was moving back to Milwaukee. And the hair wasn't cut from the time I got up here til the time I got back to Milwaukee.  We really looked like ah we had spent the summer in the northwoods.  Ah there was something else I thought would be of interest.

We would come up on the fisherman's special which left Milwaukee at seven o'clock[a.m.] and would arrive at Manitowish Waters at seven ten[p.m.], I remember that time because we'd meet that train every weekend when my father would commute back and forth.  And we would ah come up here that way and Dan Devine of course would be the one that would pick us up and bring us in and get us all, the place was all opened and ready  for us to enjoy the summer.  If we would get to Winchester on a Tuesday when the train came in we got fresh fruits and vegetables.  Other than that it was all canned goods.  Once about a week or every ten days my father would have two barrels of fresh fruits and vegetables sent up from a fruit store in Milwaukee.  And I can remember two watermelons were always included in that.  (What other kinds of foods did you have then?) Just oranges.  (Fresh meat?)  We ate a lot of ham , we ate a lot of bacon, we ate a lot of fish.  Those years we could go out and catch fish.  If my mother would say I'd like fish for dinner, out we would go and get some beautiful walleyes.  I recall one evening we went out , my cousin and I, and we sat out in front of the cottage in the weed bed and we ran out of bait we were picking up the dead minnows off the bottom of the boat and we were catching beautiful walleyes.  I remember Claire talking about that for years.  But those were the years we had fish . And I use to go out all alone I was trusted.  I knew my limitations on the water.  I respected the water and I would troll up and down this weed bed which is now by the way back. I guess they've taken all the crayfish out which destroyed the weed beds and now we have them and somebody must have caught a big one in the weed bed because now they're cruising up and down there in front of this place.  (Right out here in front?)  Um hm.  And that was, didn't have to go any farther than that as I said we had a lot of fish.  My mother knew every fish recipe that was around.

(Did you take advantage of berries and things?)  Oh yes, we went blueberry picking and we picked blueberries back which is now the Fallon road back in that area , beautiful blueberry patches.  We had lots of blueberry pies and we had uh we ate blueberries.  In those years blueberries were a no no on my grandfather's menu because he was a diabetic.  Today they have found that blueberries are very healthy; they regulate the sugar content in the system.  So whatever we were eating was good for us.  And I know they often spoke that this place prolonged his life that he with his diabetes being up here and eating properly and the smell of the pines evidently was very very healthy for him.  ( So your Grandfather was up here ) My Grandfather would come every summer and spend the summer with us.  (And what is his name?) His name is Miller.  That was my mother's father.  (what was his first name?)   Oliver.  (And he was from Milwaukee?) Milwaukee.  And he would come up when we came.  And then my Grandmother who didn't like it .  My Grandmother was like my husband: could live very well without the northwoods.  She'd come up maybe around the fourth of July and sit there and crochet for the rest of the summer.  She didn't like it.  You either like this country or you don't like it there is no middle road.  ( So how many years did you come up then?)  I came up until I started to work .  Which was right out of school then I was teaching for , up until the war.  And so I (up until the 40's) Yeah and my husband if he came up here for a long weekend that was really pushing it.  (He didn't like it?) He didn't like it either.

(Then what about your daughter Ann when did she start coming up?)  She started coming up , we brought her up when she was about four or five years old but she didn't like it either. But I think she didn't like it because she knew her father didn't like it.  As she has gotten older now she loves it and of course she's kept busy with Jessica and its very interesting.  Jessica is the fourth generation up here. (Jessica is how old now?)  Jessica is going to be nine years old in a week.  (and how old is Ann?)  Ann is thirty‑nine. So we kind of know this country pretty well.  (And your mother was here with you several years too wasn't she?) My mother was here with me the last fifteen years.  She liked it.  As Lynn Cookingham said she's the only one in the world that she knows rakes the woods.  She just loved working.  She was like her father.  And he remembers as a child while he was still in school those years they went to work in the summer and he would work in what he called a pinery.  I just surmised that what he was talking about .  When you're young you don't ask questions.  You're just not interested, however now when I look back he probably came up into this country and worked cutting wood because this was all owned by the lumber companies.  (So this was her father that did this?) Yeah that's right.

(When you were up here as a child did you see a lot of animals?)  I remember seeing a lot of deer .  I remember seeing a bear in our yard, only once.  I see more animals today than I did then.  I do remember we had to go down to the school on Highway K and the intersection with P?  And that's where our little mailbox would be lined up and all the people from Crab Lake had there mailboxes there.  They had to come in that far and the Houghtons and our family had to go down there.  That was the big social event of the day, we'd all gather down there a half hour before it came and we would have to tell what was going on to each other.  Anyway I was walking home from the mailbox alone one day and I saw this animal and Dan Devine was quizzing me trying to figure out what it was.  He came up with the answer that it was a fox cause he said did it have a pointed nose and a head? and I said yes.  So I suppose those years they went right out and tried to hunt that baby down.  But ah, No I would say there are more animals around today .  I've seen more bear up here in the last two or three years than I saw all the years of my childhood up here.  (Quite a change then.)  Yeah.

(Now tell me when you would go down for the mail and the school was there)  The school was not there.  (The school wasn't there it was just the place for the mailboxes.)  Uh no the school wasn't there and I don't recall exactly when the school was built but I'm sure that you have that on some of your records.  (What was there before the present school?) Nothing.  (Nothing at all?) Uh uh.

(Now when you did go to town, what was the closest town?)  We always went to Winchester for our groceries.  Those years it was still a ah quite a buzzing little village because were still doing they had the saw mill there and it was just like a little city and I was impressed they had sidewalks.  And as I say, if we got there on a Tuesday we got our fresh vegetables otherwise there was no Manitowish Waters .  There was just Manitowish.  In Manitowish you can still see where the tracks went up.  And otherwise we'd have to go to Mercer to do our shopping.  Why we never went to Boulder Junction, I don't know we just never went that way.  So I really can't, I can't recall anything else. I grew up with , up here, with a with Chesapeake dogs and a monkey.  A little capuchin monkey who would swing around in the trees here.  He was a cute little guy.  Other than that Karen I can't think of anything that would be of those years.

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.

Paul Brenner interview, continued

At the same time that these steam loaders and stuff came into the area the gasoline and diesel engines were developed. And a tractor was developed with tracks which was similar to what we have nowadays. In fact these Ten Ton Holt tractors which Brooks and Ross used eventually became part of the Caterpillar Tractor Company. And the advantage of these Ten Ton Holt tractors and some steam haulers was that instead of only one sleigh they could haul ten sometimes fifteen sleighs of logs. I guess I missed this one pair of pictures that shows horses hauling sleighs of logs. This one picture showing this tremendously large load was probably made mostly for the photographer. Even with maybe three teams on it it would be a hard job for them to pull it but occasionally I guess they could but these other pictures are showing more typical sleighs of logs. These are big logs on this one but it isn't that high. This happens to be cedar poles again for the Patterson Lumber Company. And this picture is probably very typical of what they hauled out of the woods. It shows a combination of fairly large logs and smaller logs and stuff. Because they didn't waste much. They always talk about how much they wasted but what little I could learn and see and stuff they took awful small logs out of the woods.

At the same time that the steam hoist came in to the woods the Phoenix steam hauler came in just about the same time as the Holt tractor. This was built in Eau Claire. I think they started building them in 1903. And there again, of course, the big advantage was that they could haul eight, ten, twelve sleighs in the right conditions.

Now getting back to the oldest logging, the stuff that was sleighed to along the lakes and the rivers in our area the Manitowish River and the Rest Lake Chain and stuff like that. The loggers built a series of dams to raise the water up considerably and they had one at Rest Lake which is where Manitowish Waters is now. They also had one below Boulder Lake which is near the junction of highway "H" and "K". And they also had one further up stream called the Fish Trap Dam which raised the water all the way up to High Lake. Now I think they raised the water up in the fall so that once they started getting ice they could put logs right on the ice if they could get to the lakes because of the banks. But if not then they decked them along the edges of the lakes and rivers and then when the ice went out in the spring they'd roll the logs into the water and they'd float down ever so slowly but they'd float down. At the Rest Lake Dam there is, I have a series of pictures here that show the Rest Lake Dam. Unfortunately not where we could see any logs going through it. This other picture is the Boulder Lake Dam. I'm sure this is when they were using it but they don't show any logs coming through it. So they'd keep the gates closed on the dam until they'd get a head of water and a load of logs behind it. And then they'd open up the dams and what that caused was raise the river down below the dam for quite a ways and it would sluice the logs down over maybe some bad spots. Then the rest of the water would be deep enough that the logs would float ever so slowly. They figured one log out of ten never made it to the mill because they either sank or they got stuck in places where they couldn't get them back into the main current.

Now at the time that all these dams were built there were many companies using the same rivers and lakes and they had to have a way of sorting the logs after they got down to where the mills were. In our case the logs went all the way down to Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls. This particular picture shows a man that was both scaling the log which means that he was measuring the board feet that were in the log and at his toe you can see a small hammer. These hammers have raised letters or numbers or all kinds of things. They could be anything. There were thousands of them registered just in this one lumber district and there were ten or twelve lumber districts in Wisconsin. Both ends of the logs were usually marked anywhere from one to ten times depending how big the logs were. By this method when the logs got down to the mills they were able to sort them out, each company having their own marks.

These particular marks we've got here "YB" was Yawkey Bissell down at Hazelhurst. This is a Dells lumber company mark from the year 1895. The "HK" mark here is the Chippewa Log and Boom which was a , Mr. Weyerhauser actually was one of the first in the men to log along the Manitowish River. And originally he had the Mississippi River Logging Company and maybe several others. But eventually he sold those to the Chippewa Log and Boom but he still was part of the Chippewa Log and Boom and so his marks were all registered by them. And so he actually controlled probably about seventyfive percent of the logs that went down the Manitowish River in our area. I don't know about other areas but in our area that was probably about seventy five percent.

Now in addition to the end mark which was put on with a heavy hammer, now these hammers were not hot, it was a brand but not heated like a horse or cattle brand. It was just the weight of the hammer that would put the mark in the log. They also occasionally would put a bark mark on the round side of the log. And these were always put on with an ax and so they had to be a mark that wouldn't have curved lines. So the bark marks were either a series of straight lines or in this case of these pictures the "HK" which is simple straight lines. Now in this bottom picture you can see an "HK" bark mark that's actually in the water yet. This was at the hoist that was on the southwest corner of Little Star Lake. The Northwestern Railroad had a railroad that went across the Powell Marsh and they had a big hoist at the southwest corner of Little Star Lake.

Originally the logs were all floated down through the dam. But by 1903 or 1904 or 1905 when the railroads got here a number of hoists were put in at different places. The one that I was just telling you about. There was also one on Rest Lake . I know there was one on Boulder Lake and I'm sure there was many many others that I don't know about . And then the logs were floated to the hoist rather than to the dam.

Just to jump ahead a little bit on my pictures, in order to get the logs to the Rest Lake chain which was a series, I think, of ten lakes or whatever it was, they had to, there wasn't enough current that went through the lakes so they had to have booms where ever the main rivers came in to the lakes. And at these booms then they'd make the logs into rafts. And then they had a steam boat which would haul these rafts to the quiet water. First to the dam and then later on to these different hoists. I'm not sure how much sorting, originally they didn't do any sorting when they went through the dam, but I suppose after they were going to the different hoists they may have been sorted, the logs may have been sorted at these booms.

Now here's some more log marks. This "B7R" is Brooks and Ross Camp 7. This plain circle is a mark from Weyerhauser and Dinkman, that was Mr. Weyerhauser's brotherinlaw. And there's just all kinds of these logs down near where Tommy Newcomb lives on Rice Creek flowage. This other bark mark here I'm not sure what it represents but it looks like two "V's". That was the bark mark from the Mississippi River Logging Company which was again one of the outfits that was controlled by Weyerhauser.

And so here's a picture, we're skipping around a little bit, of log decks that were along the edges of the lakes and rivers . This shows a man tailing down the logs which means they were just rolling them into the water after the ice went out. Now here are some pictures after they got the logs floating in the water they didn't want any problems. They had a lot of men they were on the logs themselves with their caulk boots and a long pole. And what they were trying to do was prevent logs from piling up on rock bars and along the edges and stuff like that. Here's a series of four pictures that show the men trying to keep things from jamming up. Even with these men out there a lot of the logs got stuck on the sides and on the rock bars in the center and so as the log drive progressed they would have other men coming with cant hooks and pry bar poles and stuff like that to roll the logs that were stuck on the sides, roll them back into the current so they'd float downstream. They even occasionally, in some of the areas where they had large flats, they would have teams of horses that would pull the logs back out into the current. Again as I said, they figured one log out of ten never made it to the mill. Now this picture, I'm not sure if this is a picture of a log jam or if it's just a picture of a river full of logs. It looks like just a picture full of logs. I have a couple pictures coming of a log jam but I don't have them in the book yet.

Now these next pictures show the steamboats. These two here on the right are the same steamboat that was used on the Rest Lake chain. And then this shows a picture of a tug that was used on Lower Trout Lake. The nickname for it was the "Hardly Able" and it would haul rafts over to the hoist. The Milwaukee Road had a track along the east shore of both Upper and Lower Trout and apparently they had at least one hoist on the southeast corner of Lower Trout Lake. They also had one just above the narrows where they had a spur going into it.

Now as far as the pictures, we're getting into when the railroads actually got here. The first mainline into Boulder Junction was 1903. By 1905 the mainlines had gotten as far west as Rest Lake and up to Presque Isle and Winchester and pretty well the whole country was covered by 1905. A lot of the logging companies then built their spur lines off of the mainlines. The mainlines would haul the logs to the mill but they had contacts with the companies and these companies had their own steam engines and rail cars. They were all standard gauge in our area. Some areas, a few areas in the state had narrow gauge railroads but in our area everything was standard gauge meaning the width of the rails was the same distance apart on the logging rails as it was on the mainlines. Here shows a picture near Sayner that shows a typical logging grade going through the woods and again it shows how small a lot of the trees were. Here again another one is near, we always called it Risto Flowage but the game division calls it Whitney Lake Flowage. Here you show the typical spur line. They didn't even saw the ties, they didn't even flatten them off. They just used birch and popple and whatever else was available just as round logs and they nailed the rails to it. Most of these spurs were only used one or two years and so that's why they didn't have to have better ties. On the mainlines they had pretty good ties but on the spur lines they just had whatever was available.

Those three aren't really important. It just shows the hand cars that were used. Different companies had different kinds, I suppose depending on what crews they had. This one happens to be down at Valesco which was the junction of the Milwaukee Road track that went to Star Lake and the Milwauee Road tract that went to Boulder. This one is just north of Boulder it's probably a Brooks and Ross hand car. This is down here at Trout Lake I'm not sure who's car it was, maybe the Wright Lumber Company and Dan Cardinal is the man on the right there.

And here show some typical company steam engines. Locomotives that were used to haul the log trains out of the woods. This first one is, I'm not sure of the name of the railroad but it was used to haul the logs into the Yawkey Bissell mill down at Hazelhurst. I'm sure they had a name for that railroad but I don't know what it is right now. The other three are all up at the Vilas County Lumber Company up at Fosterville. Almost all their logs, I think all their logs probably went out by rail, I don't think they did any driving at all. And here shows some typical logging trains. This one is at Trout Lake and again you can a McGiffert Loader up at the head of the engine that they were moving both the loader and. The loader, the McGiffert could run under its own power but I suppose when they were going long distances they just hooked them to the logging train. These two are loads of logs somewhere along the edge of Trout Lake or in around that area someplace.

The mainline of the Milwaukee road that went to Boulder and then on to both Rest Lake and Buswell was a combination passenger and logging. They'd haul passengers and freight and logs. Here shows apparently the log car jumping the rail and the passengers either walking back to Boulder or forward to if they were far enough south down to Woodruff. I guess this was fairly common, it wasn't unusual even at slow speeds for the cars to jump the tracks.

Now we're getting into, these three pictures here, three. The first logging just took the white pine. That was the ones that floated the best and was the most valuable. But after the railroad got here they took the white, and they took the norway , they took the cedar, they took the hemlock, and they also took the hardwood. These three pictures show in the case of the hemlock they would go into the hemlock stands and they'd cut them down first thing in the spring and peel the bark off and pile the bark in piles. And then later on they'd haul the bark out to the railroads where it was put on railroad cars and hauled down to the tanneries where eventually it was ground up and soaked in water and the tannin that was in the bark was extracted and was used in the tanning process. This one sleigh here is probably not very typical. I've got another picture coming that's going to fit in this other thing which is a much smaller sleigh. But this one is probably piled twelve feet high. Now there was really no weight involved so if they had a real long haul I suppose they could make sleighs that would be maybe I suppose that sleigh is twelve feet long or longer and twelve feet high. They could pile the stuff so that they could make it pay to haul a long ways.

Now we're getting in to a series of pictures on the camps in our area. The first one here is Camp Three which was the main Brooks and Ross camp on Wolf Lake. As I said earlier, the logs, a lot of the logs were sleighed into this camp by Ten Ton Holt tractors and then eventually were loaded on to railroad cars at Camp Three. Brooks and Ross also had other camps further north where they loaded logs out. But Camp Three probably most of the stuff around Round Lake and up to Crab Lake and Sanford, a few of them others were all probably hauled down to Camp Three on Wolf Lake.

This next picture is Camp Five at Sanford Lake. I don't know if all the Brooks and Ross marks, logs were marked with a hammer but in the case of Camp Five on Sanford they apparently stored the logs in the water there and then must have had a hoist going to the lake because I found a "B5R" log in the water which had been the mark for Brooks and Ross in Camp Five. Now they weren't always that simple, the marks. Now this is Camp Six up near Round Lake. The interesting thing about this particular camp is I talked to a young lady, not a young lady, a lady one day last summer and her grandfather shown on this picture here was either working in the camp or was caretaker in the summer months. He probably did both. And during the summer months this lady's mother would come up and stay in this camp with her grandfather and the one year she was here which must have been 1910, I don't know how many years she stayed here, but at least in 1910 she was here and that was the year there was a big fire that came in from the west somewhere and burnt the town of Buswell and the mill at Buswell. It continued north along the north side of Big Lake and eventually went past this particular camp. When she got back to school that fall she wrote an essay for whatever grade she was in and she describes both the camp in some detail plus the fact that she and her grandfather was alone there for a while the night that the fire came through and they were pouring water on the roofs. And then a little later Brooks and Ross apparently sent more men up and helped save the camp.

Then this next one is Camp Seven up at Eagle Lake which is just north of Beal a little ways. It is now called Buck and Doe Lake. That was another major camp where they logs to load on railroad cars.

This next series shows some of the Vilas County Lumber Camps that were adjacent to their railroad lines. I'm not real familiar on where this one that's called Camp Six, I've no idea where the camp was.

In addition to putting permanent camps up both the Vilas County Lumber Company and the Turtle Lake Lumber Company, which was at Winchester, had what they called car camps which were camp buildings put on railroad cars. The bunkhouses the mess hall the barns and no doubt the blacksmith shop and maybe others. Whenever they got to wherever they were going to log they put in an extra spur and then the camp was set up for whatever length of time that they were going to log in that area. This picture here shows a good picture of a car camp on some lake. Again I don't know where it was. And this is the car barns from the Turtle Lake Lumber Company. Again I don't know quite where.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

an interview with Paul Brenner

On January 20, 1992, Homer Sykes interviewed Paul Brenner at his home in Boulder Junction, WI. Paul discussed the logging industry in the area.

We talked about your personal history and working for the DNR. When did you first come up?

I came up in 1947 shortly after I got out of the Navy. I came from Milwaukee originally. I came up and started working for the what was then the Wisconsin Conservation Department at Trout Lake. Eventually it became the Department of Natural Resources. I worked from 1947 until 1974. The last ten years or so I was doing land surveying. Originally I just worked as laborer. Eventually I worked on the canoe routes. Then I got into timber sales, then into land surveying. But the last ten or fifteen years it was mostly land surveying with Fred Copp.

My interest in logging actually started when I was surveying, because I found a Yawkey Bissell log marking hammer hanging on a post one day and I brought it home. I really didn't do anything about it for five or ten years. I knew what it was but I didn't do anything about it. I just had it home. But eventually we found a logging camp on the other side of my lake, which was the Dells Lumber Company camp. And they had a hammer with a large "D" in it -- the outline of a large "D" with the year number in it. Over the course of maybe ten years we found a total of seven hammers over in this Dells camp with the years 1892, 93, 94, 95, and 96 were the year numbers. They don't have the 18 in them just the 92, 93, 94, 95, 96.

That finally perked my interest, and so then I eventually started digging in camps. I found a number of hammers but eventually a lot of people, knowing I was interested, gave me other hammers. I traded hammers and about 1980 or thereabouts I first started collecting the pictures of the logging stuff. That actually has been more fruitful because hammers are pretty hard to come by. In all the years that I've dug for hammers I probably haven't found more than twenty or twenty-five hammers altogether. I've got one hundred and fifty or so, but some of them were given to me and some were bought and some were traded and stuff like that. So the hammers are ideal to find but they're just a lot of work just to find one.

I have got into the pictures and in these talks that I give I pick out a series of pictures showing what typically happened at the camps. Now I don't have those right in order here at this talk but we can go through my one album and at least some of it will be accurate.

This first page here shows a series of four pictures of crews cutting down trees, one of which was the Brooks and Ross crew somewhere in the Boulder Junction area. Brooks and Ross was from Schofield and they own maybe thirty or forty sections of land starting just north of Boulder and going on up into upper Michigan. They had a minimum of fifteen or twenty camps in that area. This particular picture shows a fairly large tree, probably larger than average. Now who the men are I don't know but actually the trees in the Boulder area at least where the soil is fairly sandy are not the huge giant pine that people so often pick out as the example of what was here. Actually there was a lot more smaller trees than there were large ones. Now in some areas of the state, like in the Wausau area where the heavier soils were, then there were a lot of large trees. But even in the Presque Isle country where you get this heavier clay soil you find some fairly large pine. But on the most part the trees run from, oh, ten to twenty-four inches, which was not particularly large. The large trees are four to five and occasionally six feet on the stump.