The term lumberjack is of Canadian derivation. The first attested use of the word comes from an 1831 letter to the Cobourg Star and General Advertiser in the following passage: "my misfortunes have been brought upon me chiefly by an incorrigible, though perhaps useful, race of mortals called lumberjacks, whom, however, I would name the Cossack's of Upper Canada, who, having been reared among the oaks and pines of the wild forest, have never been subjected to the salutary restraint of laws."
Lumberjacks worked in lumber camps and often lived a migratory life, following timber harvesting jobs as they opened. Being a lumberjack was seasonal work. Lumberjacks were exclusively men. They usually lived in bunkhouses or tents. Common equipment included the axe and cross-cut saw. Lumberjacks could be found wherever there were vast forests to be harvested and a demand for wood, most likely in Scandinavia, Canada, and parts of the United States. In the U.S., many lumberjacks were of Scandinavian ancestry, continuing the family tradition. American lumberjacks were first centred in north-eastern states such as Maine. They then followed the general westward migration on the continent to the Upper Midwest, and finally the Pacific Northwest. Stewart Holbrook documented the emergence and westward migration of the classic American lumberjack in his first book, Holy Old Mackinaw: A Natural History of the American Lumberjack. He often wrote colourfully about lumberjacks in his subsequent books, romanticizing them as hard-drinking, hard-working men. Logging camps were slowly phased out between World War II and the early 1960s as crews could by then be transported to remote logging sites in motor vehicles.
Before the era of modern diesel or gasoline powered equipment, the existing machinery was steam powered. Animal or steam-powered skidders could be used to haul harvested logs to nearby rail roads for shipment to sawmills. Horse driven logging wheels were a means used for moving logs out of the woods. Another way for transporting logs to sawmills was to float them down a body of water or a specially-constructed log flume. Log rolling, the art of staying on top of a floating log while "rolling" the log by walking, was another skill much in demand among lumberjacks. Spiked boots known as "caulks" or "corks" were used for log rolling and often worn by lumberjacks as their regular footwear.
Tomczik (2008) has investigated the lifestyle of lumberjacks from 1840 to 1940, using records from mostly Maine and Minnesota logging camps. In a period of industrial development and modernization in urban areas, logging remained a traditional business in which the workers exhibited pride in their craft, masculinity, and closely-guarded individualism. Their camps were a bastion of the traditional workplace, as they intentionally defied modern rationalized management. At the peak in 1906 there were 500,000 lumberjacks. Logging camps were located in isolated areas that provided room and board as well as a workplace. There were usually few women present other than the wives of cooks and foremen. Men earned praise for their skill, competitiveness, and aggression. When not at work, they played rough games, told tall tales, and built up their reputations by consuming large amounts of food. By 1940, the business was undergoing major changes, as access roads and automobiles ended residential logging camps, chain saws replaced crosscut saws, and managers installed industrial methods of logging.
A specialty form of logging involving the felling of trees for the production of railroad ties was known as tie hacking. These lumberjacks, called tie hacks, used saws to fell trees and cut to length, and a broad-axe to flatten two or all four sides of the log to create railroad ties. Later, portable saw mills were used to cut and shape ties. Tie hacking was an important form of logging in Wyoming and northern Colorado and the remains of tie hacking camps can be found on National Forest land. The remains of flumes can be seen near Dubois, Wyoming, and Old Roach, Colorado. In addition, a decaying splash dam exists near the Old Roach site as well. There, tie hacks attempted to float logs down to the Laramie River for the annual spring tie drives, and the splash dam was used to collect winter snow-melt to increase the water flow for the tie drive.
Before the invention of motorized chainsaws and logging machinery, the hard work of felling trees was done by the lumberjacks using hand tools such as axes and saws. The work was difficult, dangerous, intermittent, low-paying, and involved living in primitive conditions.
Lumberjacks could be found wherever there were vast forests to be harvested and a demand for wood, most likely in Scandinavia, Canada, and parts of the United States. In the U.S., many lumberjacks were of Scandinavian ancestry, continuing the family tradition. 59ce067264