industry continued to expand in the Chippewa Valley although no villages
or sawmills were established. Logs were cut and skidded to the river
banks to await the opening of the rivers in the spring. As soon as
the ice cleared from the streams, and while the water was still height,
the logs were rolled into the water and floated downstream to the mills
at Chippewa Falls.
Rivermen, who were
called "River Pigs", rode the log rafts downstream and guided their journey
to the sawmills. If log jams developed at rapids or shallow water,
they broke up the jams with pike poles and peavies.
Bateaus were used
in all log drives. These were river boats which were sometimes called
river dug-outs. A special pine log was selected and skilled men constructed
the dug-out canoe by chopping and shaving the log into shape with axes
and knives. The ends were shaped alike. The interior was long
and narrow, large enough to seat sixteen men. To be efficient in
swift current and rapids, the bateau had to be correctly proportioned.
The best proportions were thirty feet in length and thirty inches in width.
The capacity load of the bateau was about twelve hundred pounds of cargo
and two crowmen, the sternman and the bowman.
The bateaus were used
to transport the men to the log rafts and return them to the wanigan in
the evening. They were also used during the drive to transport workers
from shore to the logs and from the log rafts back to shore. The
bateaus always followed close behind the logs that were being floated to
the sawmills. The bateaus were also used to transport supplies from
supply centers to the camps.
The wanigan was a
flat boat or raft on which was constructed a small shelter or "shanty".
This structure housed the cooking equipment, stoves, commissary, and dining
tables. The rivermen ate two meals on the wanigan, breakfast and
supper. The noon lunch was carried in an oil cloth sack by each worker.
The oil cloth kept the food from becoming wet in case of rain or an accident.
Life in the logging
camp was quite montonous. The woodsmens' work day began at sunrise
and ended at sunset. He worked in all kinds of weather. Storms
and cold were not deterrent to the logging operations. He protected
himself from the bitter winter cold by wearing heavy woolen shirts, mackinaws,
and socks. Instead of wearing leather shoes, he wore rubber "stags".
On his hands, he wore leather "choppers" with heavy woolen liners.
They protected their faces by allowing their beards to grow.
Many of the woodsmen
remained in the camp throughout the winter unless they were married and
had families. It was necessary to remain in camp because there were
no roads and no nearby villages in those days. Occasionally a peddler
would visit the camp for the purpose of selling clothing, footwear, tobacco,
and medicines. Sometimes a tailor would visit the camps and take
orders and measurements for suits for the men. When camp broke in
the spring, the men would call for their suits at the tailor's place of
The itinerant visitors
were the only source of news for the lonely woodsmen. Usually they
spent part of the evenings talking with the workers about happenings in
the outside world. Entertainers sometimes visited those isolated
settlements and entertained the woodsmen with musical acts, usually violin
and vocal. Other entertainers were storytellers, comedians, and dancers.
A few of the logging
operators realized that something had to be done to relieve the woodsmen
of loneliness. Some of them induced ministers to visit the camps
and conduct religious services. At other times the officers, superintendents,
and their wives and families would visit the camps and eat a meal with
the lumberjacks. When the "bosses" wives visited camps, the lumberjack
especially prepared himself for the occasion by wearing his best clothes.
This "dressing-up" process meant that he would bathe, wear clean clothes,
and shave his beard if it were late in the season and further severe weather
would not be predicted.
The meals served in
the logging camps were very adequate. A good assortment of food was
served at each meal. As better varieties of food became available
in later years, the menu at the camps likewise improved. Quality
of food and living accommodations became a factor of competition among
the camp operators in recruiting labor in the later period of the logging
A typical menu
at a logging camp in the 1920's was as follows:
Fruit (usually stewed
prunes or apricots)
Pancakes with butter and
syrup (the syrup was dark Karo or sugar syrup of maple flavor)
Meat -- bacon, ham or fried
Dessert -- doughnuts or
Meat - roast beef, roast
pork, or baked ham
Vegetable (usually corn,
peas or carrots)
Bread and butter
Dessert - assorted pies
Coffee or tea
Meat (usually cold cuts
- baked ham [or boiled] or sausage)
Stewed prunes or apricots
Bread and butter
Dessert - cake, doughnuts
shanty was always a most interesting place to visit. Cleanliness
was carefully guarded by the cooks. The chief cook always had assistants
to help with the ordinary tasks in the cook shanty. They were called
"Cookees". The "Bull Cook" was the man who constantly tended the
stoves and water supply. He maintained a good-sized wood pile and
kept the water containers full. Every cook shanty always had hot
water on hand. A large barrel was placed alongside the huge cook
stove. Pipes led to the fire-pot of the stove and were connected
to a water front which was located alongside the fire box. This equipment
made it possible to maintain a plentiful supply of hot water at all times.
Watching the cooks
prepare a meal was most interesting. The average camp had to prepare
huge quantities of food for each meal. Perhaps a bushel of potatoes
were cooked at one time in a huge shiny steel kettle. Vegetables
were cooked in the same manner. At least fifty pounds of meat were
cooked at one time in long covered roasting pans. Pies were baked
in the huge ovens, a dozen or two at one time. Doughnuts and cookies
were baked by the hundreds.
The dining room was
also a very interesting place. Several long tables were usually arranged
lengthwise in the room. A row of benches on each side of the table
furnished seats for the crew. Tin plates were placed neatly upside
down on the table with a tin cup inverted on the plate. The side-dishes
were small tin bowls. While the meal was being eaten, no one talked
except to ask for a kind of food he could not reach. The only sound
one could hear in the dining room was the clatter of knives and forks against
tin plates. While the meal was being served, cookees patrolled the
diner and refilled serving dishes as soon as they were emptied. Refills
were frequent because these hardy and hungry outdoors men had tremendous