....Where have all the loggers gone? Where are the whistle punks, the second-loaders, the sled-builders, the wood-splitters, the blacksmiths, the high-riggers, the hand-fallers, the steampot engineers and the P.F. men of oxen-logging days, just to name a few?


“Goodbye Old




starting out in the woods, but it was, at one time, the only way to start.
....The logging scene has certainly moved into the push button world of modern hydraulics and electrical gad-getry, and in so doing has threatened more familiar coastal name jobs such as chokerman, rigging-slinger and

.... These names are jobs that no longer exist in our woods. But they were important jobs that simply lost out to modern times.
....I recall the sled builders, the men who built the donkey sleds that the old steam donkey engines were bolted down to. A sled-builder, and some-times a helper, would take on a job of building a sled, and bring their own tools with them. Generally they would hire out for the one specific job and when it was done, head back for town and wait for another call from another camp.
....They would be equipped with a cross- cut saw, double bitted axes, assorted chisels, ships’ augers and a
chaser. These old standby jobs of the western slopes are gradually giving way to the mechanical logging of grapple yarders.
....And the helicopter is now assuming a place for itself that only a few years ago seemed ages off.
....Certainly, with the high costs of road building, flying logging will become more and more a natural alternative for us to use.
....By the end of this century – just a short 20 years away – we will be logging more and more of our second growth forests, and at the same time seeing less and less of our old first-growth mature big trees.
....What a difference this will make,
multitude of hand tools. The job
OLD SKILLS fading?
particularly in our coastal areas. The
required hours and hours of drilling inch-and-a-half holes through the big logs that made the sled, plus very precise mortisses and fits. The work was always heavy and slow, but the results from a good sled-builder were always a real work of strength, an art to behold.
....The whistle-punk stood quiet in the rain or snow, or heat with the mos-quitoes, listening for the signal from his crew. When it was hollered, he would pull a series of jerks on a galvanized clotheslione wire that sounded the steam whistle atop the steam donkey. It was a job disliked by young fellows.
cost of coastal logging has always been high because of the varied sizes of trees we have had to handle. Big machines are needed to handle big trees, but their bigness is wasted on the small trees they must also handle.
....When the more “even” forests of the future are harvested, the machines
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that do the job can be far better suited to that job than today’s. This will again mean the loss of more familiar names, but by now we know this is the name of the game.
....The wood-splitter had a tedious job. He, along with his co-worker, the wood-bucker, worked in the wood-yard of the steam donkey area. A good sized log of 40 feet in length by three feet in diameter would be pulled into the woodyard by cables, and set up to be turned into fire-wood for the hungry firebox of the donkey.
....The wood-bucker would notch off the log in three foot blocks and proceed to saw off each block with his six to eight-foot cross-cut saw. Once sawn off, the wood splitter would roll the block over near the donkey sled, set it up on end and proceed – by use of hammer, steel wedge and axe – to split up the block for fire-wood. Then the split pieces would be piled up for the fireman to use in the firebox.
....Again, the job was heavy – with the exposure of all the elements directly on the person, plus bits of hot ash from the smokestack landing on the sweating backs of the woodyard men.
....While the chainsaw is still the prime tool for felling coastal trees, its use has been greatly reduced in B.C.
....In the interior, giant shears and mechanical harvesters are taking over. These mammoths are helping to make the name “power-saw faller” join the list of wood-buckers and wood-splitters.
....It is interesting to note that with the disappearance of various categories of jobs from our logging scene, some of


arts of logging have been lost, or near lost. The splicing of cables in other years was a job familiar to most loggers. The breaking of a cable meant it had to be spliced back together, not replaced with a new one.
....Today, fewer and fewer loggers know what to do with a marlin spike and hammer. In the rush to go forward, we sometimes leave craftsmanship behind.
....I recall the blacksmith shop in camp as being something akin to a modern fac-tory. With a hot forge, a sturdy anvil and a good striker, the blacksmith could turn round iron into equipment that was made to last. There are a few blacksmith shops left in a few camps, but the store bought
the goods keep most camps in supply now.
....The A-frame chaser was an occu-pation that required a sure footed young chap who put in a pretty full day’s work. Up and down the coast in inlets and bays there were literally hundreds of A-frames, big and small. ....These log-lashed floats held a donkey engine and a set of A-sticks to form the high-lead action of logging. The float was held off from the beach by some long logs called the stiff-leg and the logs were pulled in from the forest back of the beach.
....It was the chasers job to jump on the floating turns of logs as they hit the saltchuck and unhook the chokers that bound them. If the logs were small or


sinky, or if it was windy and stormy, the chaser could well wind up in the water many times a day. His job required a clear head, good wrists and no fear of the water – a great job!
....Now, we continue to grow more mechanical and fewer men actually roam out in the felled and bucked timber than ever before, though we pull more and more logs from the forest around us.
....So maybe it is – Goodbye Old Logger – and welcome the Mechanical logger.
Oh, and yes! The P.F. man of early days? Ask an old timer!

.........................Keep out of the bight,
..........................................Bill Moore


British Columbia Lumberman, February, 1980  
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