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The Minnesota Pineries
Harper's New Monthly Magazine
—March, 1868

WHEN a Minneapolis or St. Anthony lumberman contemplates a business visit to the pine regions of Northern Minnesota he expresses his intention by saying that he is "going up river." The appropriateness of such language is apparent enough when we learn that the portions of country referred to lie on the Upper Mississippi and its tributaries. One of the most important of these tributaries, especially in connection with the pineries of which we speak, is Rum River; and thus, when one of the lords of the Minneapolis lumber-mills invited me, in the early part of March, 1867, to go with him "up river," I knew at once that it signified a journey to the lumber-camps on one of the above streams, a hundred miles or more from home, and well into those forests which stretch their unbroken solitudes far toward the shores of Hudson's Bay. I was more than willing to accept the invitation, for I had long cherished a desire to see those famous forests, to go over the old Indian hunting-grounds, and, not the least of all, to snuff the pure native odor of freshly-cut pine logs.

This time "up river" meant up Rum River, a stream which joins the Mississippi on the east, at Anoka, eighteen miles above St. Anthony Falls. How or when it received its anti-temperance name is not known, at least to the writer, but, like most of certain beverages common nowadays, it contains more water than rum—and the more water the better in both cases. It is a singular coincidence that either the river itself or one of its principal branches has its source in Sugar Lake.

Although the place of our destination lay near the sources of Rum River, we found it more convenient to go by rail some twelve miles above the junction of this river with the Mississippi to Elk River, and thence across by a shorter route. Our friend had taken the precaution to send up on the previous day his own sleigh and horses, which were nearly ready for us as we alighted, about twelve o'clock, from the cars. Taking a hurried dinner at the very unpretentious Elk River Hotel, we prepared for a trip of twenty miles or more over the prairie, and in an atmosphere that was driving the mercury below zero. We toasted the bottoms of our boots, strapped on our cloth overshoes, slipped into our beaver coats (my friend added a wolf-robe), wrapped our shoulders with shawls, pulled our caps down over our ears, then, jumping into the sleigh, and covering our limbs with a well-lined buffalo-skin, started off; feeling as though we could safely defy the blasts of Spitzbergen. George and Kate, our noble steeds, dashed on at a splendid rate. The latter animal was once a rebel, or probably was, as she was owned by one. She was captured by a distinguished Federal officer, near the close of the late war, and brought North; instead of returning to champ the Southern bit again she remained to obey the reconstructive reins of her Minneapolis owner, who provides her with plenty of loyal hay and oats, and who is as proud of her as though she had her birth in sight of Bunker Hill. She trotted so handsomely and seemed such a willing beast that I soon forgot her Confederate tricks, and would gladly have recommended her for unconditional pardon. The former animal was not as young and smooth-limbed as his chestnut-colored companion, but he strove hard to keep an even whiffletree. Both appeared to feel an extra exhilaration from the frosty air, for they shot along the beaten snow-path with such astonishing swiftness that our movement might almost have been compared to a railroad train, the smoke of my f'riend's cigar, ascending in glorious white clouds, making the figure more complete. We rode over a wild, undulating tract of country, broken by a few scattering oaks, and here and there a bold knoll or narrow ridge, but showing few houses. We saw not more than three or four dwellings in a distance of fifteen miles.

Our horses stopped, after two or three hours of smart trotting, before a small frame building, which, by a rude sign that hung from a still ruder pole, surmounted by a martin-box, we learned was the American House. The few houses scattered about constituted the village of Princeton, an unpretending, honest-looking place, and buttoned on to the dark skirts of the big woods. A man appeared at the door of the hotel in his shirt-sleeves, and with his gray head uncovered, whom my friend addressed as "Brother Golden," and invited us in. We complied readily, for I, at least, was a good deal chilled. The prairie blast, which the hyperborean fiends had that afternoon whetted to an uncommon sharpness, pierced even my extra garments, making me sigh for some hospitable fire. "Brother Golden" appreciated our want. With true landlordly cheer he filled the long, high stove, which stood knee-deep in a box of sand, with dry wood, and, as the flames roared their welcome to the shivering travelers from "down river," he made many inquiries, the last of which was, "Have you brought me a paper?" My friend, remembering our good-natured landlord's fondness for the latest news, and also that Uncle Sam can hardly afford to send a mail-coach so near the big woods every day, had filled his pockets with St. Paul and Minneapolis dailies, which the old man accepted, and commenced devouring with a singular relish.

As soon as the frost was thoroughly melted out of us we donned our outer garments again and started on. Leaving the village, we immediately crossed the "West Branch" (of Rum River), and then struck into the woods, my friend remarking that we should see no more signs of civilization, except in the lumber-camps, until our return.

Until a comparatively recent period the vast forest before us had remained undisturbed, save by the savage tribes who were here when Columbus discovered America, and who still linger around the old trails, reluctant to give them over to the devouring march of the white man. A few years ago several enterprising citizens of Maine found out by some means that extensive tracts of pine lands were hid away here, and thus, aided by the knowledge they had gained in connection with the lumber business in their native State, they hastened to purchase these lands, content to wait until the increasing population of Iowa, Southern Minnesota, and other portions of the Mississippi Valley should, by their almost limitless demand for building material, demonstrate the wisdom of such a business course. Saw-mills were soon erected on the St. Croix, at St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis, and other points; the lumber trade increased from year to year, until at last it has grown into an importance which few can realize who have not made a personal inspection. In addition to the Minnesota pineries we need not mention those of Michigan and Wisconsin. Beginning at well-known points in the latter States, the pine regions stretch along the Chippewa and St. Croix, the shores of Lake Superior, and across to the Mississippi below and above St. Cloud. Altogether they form perhaps the most extensive pine forests in North America. They have already become the sources of fabulous wealth, and afford a theatre for the lumber business excelling any thing ever witnessed in Maine or New Brunswick. To say nothing of how far Chicago outstrips Bangor as a lumber mart, it may be observed that the scenes once witnessed on the banks of the Penobscot, Kennebec, Androscoggin, Saco, and Passamaquoddy, and in the palmiest days of these rivers, have been transferred to the Mississippi, Chippewa, St. Croix, and Rum River. The saw-mills at Minneapolis and St. Anthony turn out annually over one hundred millions of feet of boards, and are pushing the figures higher and higher every year; and thus the same process which has demolished the forests of Maine, which has scared the elk, and moose, and. beaver, and their elder brother, the Indian, away from their Eastern haunts, is already far advanced in the West.

Impressed with all of the above facts—remembering how brief a period had elapsed since silence held undisputed sway in the unpeopled shades before us, since a journey here seemed more impossible to accomplish than a trip to Kane's Open Sea does now, since I put my ten-year-old finger down on the map at a point called St. Anthony Falls and thought it far enough away to be included in the dimmest regions of romance, and yet, that peoples from the other side of the Atlantic had already found this spot, yea, were coming in annual thousands and selecting homes hundreds of miles still nearer the setting sun—that an army of sturdy emigrants from beyond the Baltic Sea, from the foot of the Alps, and from the land of Erin, were waiting here, with axes in hand, to hew down all these forests—remembering all this, the feelings which crept over me as we left the open prairie and plunged into the dark thick wilderness were strange and startling enough. And our imagination at this moment was rendered more intense because the night was coming on, and because we were riding under the first pinetrees we had seen, whose leafy tops, swept by a strong northwest wind, struck up a doleful music. We fancied that the continual jingle of Kate's girdle of bells, the frosty murmur of the sleigh-runners, and the occasional striking of the outer ends of the whiffletrees against some trunk or bush that crowded too near the road, must awaken unwelcome echoes in the dusky depths about us, and that the lingering ghost of some Dakota savage might possibly start up and defy our further intrusion upon, his old hunting-grounds.

After a couple of hours' ride we came to a fork in the road, and, for the first time, my friend was in doubt which way to go. He stopped his horses, and we held a council. We looked about for a finger-board, but found none. One road we knew led to Tidd's Camp—the camp we were in search of—and the other to somebody's else camp. The full moon peered out from a rift in the clouds, and sprinkled its beams down through the oaks, poplars, and pines, but not a ray of light penetrated our doubts. The trees seemed to say, with provoking indifference, as we looked up at them inquiringly, "We know how to stand here and grow; we know how and when to open our buds and shed our leaves, and which way to fall when we get old and rotten, or when the woodmen cut us down; but we do not know the way to Tidd's Camp." George and Kate threw their ears backward and forward, looked up one road, then up the other, and finally, turning their heads round at us, apparently confessed that their horse sense was as much puzzled as our human sense; that although they would obey the reins and go either way; they would rather not take the responsibility of offering advice. The manner, however, in which they champed their bits and pawed the snow showed that they were getting impatient for a decision. We, too, desired to have the matter settled, for we began to ache with cold, and felt a pressing need of shelter. Our horses, in the mean time, had moved about half their length toward the right, and for this reason, as much as any, we concluded to take that direction, and started on. We had gone only two or three miles before we learned our mistake—that the right road was the wrong road, or again, that the right road was the left road. We turned about, went back to the fork, took the left road, and in half an hour came to a small circular opening, containing in its centre a clump of log-buildings, which we at once pronounced to be Tidd's Camp. A column of smoke with frequent sparks of fire pointed out the location of the lodgers' building, and driving up before it, as we would have done before a country hotel, my friend cried "Whoa!" in a tone which he evidently intended the lodgers should hear as well as the horses. Immediately a small door was partially opened, its wooden hinges creaking with frost, when a man in a brown woolen shirt thrust out his bushy head and exclaimed, "Hullo!" My friend answered with a "Hullo!" This salutatory term, as used by the first speaker, meant, when fully interpreted, "I am one of the lodgers in Tidd's Camp; who are you?" As used by the second speaker it meant, "I am one of the owners of these pine forests, and have come up to see how my loggers are getting on." The man in the door and the man in the sleigh understood each other at once, and while the former put on his hat and came out to take charge of the horses, the latter and I went into the camp. Many of the sights which met my eyes on entering were novel enough to one unacquainted with life in the pineries. The thing I was most glad to see just then was the huge fire in the centre of the camp, consuming a great pile of logs, and sending its smoke through a large, square wooden chimney. I stood before the hot, roaring flames, turned myself about, melting first one side, then the other, and in the mean time took frequent surveys of the apartment.

The camp was about thirty feet long and twenty feet wide. Its ends and sides were constructed of pine logs, notched at the ends, to enable them to lie closely, and chinked with moss; the roof was made of pine splints, thatched with mud, grass, etc. A small projection at the end opposite the door, with a stove and pantry in it, was used as a cookroom. Across the same end, next to the cook-room, but without any partition, was a long space containing a rough table, hewed from a pine log, set apart for the dining-room. The beds, or rather bed, for there was no division in either the under or upper portion, was stretched along on two sides of the fire, and so arranged that the sleepers' heads nearly touched the opposite walls. I had heard the saying, "thick as three in a bed," but here it was literally as thick as a dozen in a bed. At the foot of the bed, between the lodgers' feet and the fire, was a long, flat beam, called the "Deacon's Seat." This Deacon's Seat is one of the representative places in a lumberman's camp. It is a synonym for a variety of scenes and memories. It is here that the logmen mount themselves in the morning, after crawling from their bed of pine boughs; here they sit and dress their feet, and from here they drop off to their rest at night; here they arrange themselves in a jolly row before the blazing fire, to make the long winter evenings merry with their stories and jokes; here the visitor at the camp is invited to sit and rest himself; here the men make their bargains with the "boss," and receive their pay; from this spot the logmen take their leave in the spring. And thus the Deacon's Seat is associated with the whole interior life of the camp, and is the magic word by which in after years one logman reminds another of the events which transpired around the log-fire in the distant pine woods.

The loggers had all retired except the cook and two or three others; but none of them were asleep. Their long row of heads under the low, slanting roof almost startled me, for each pair of eyes, reflecting the flames that shot up from the middle of the camp, glared at me like so many balls of fire. The men watched my rotary motions before the burning logs as though they thought I might be a piece of meat, and was trying to roast myself. They lay on their sides, all facing one way, and packed as closely as a bundle of spoons. If one turned, all turned. Now and then some restless wit among them would effect a joke, and I could hear the laugh roll round the whole camp, gathering extra force at those points where it found the deepest appreciation. Now and then one whose supper of salt pork and beans had left his mouth parched would crawl out of his place, go straight to a barrel in the corner of the camp, pour a dipper of ice-water down his throat, then return, and after wedging himself in bed again, would shut his eyes, as if ready now to be taken in charge by the fair, gentle goddess who alike bends over the pillow of pine boughs in a lumberman's camp and the downy couch of a king. I could imagine only two things to prevent perfect sleep—a too hearty supper and too little space for the body. The arrangement for ventilation was ample. No "modern house with modern conveniences" I ever saw can equal a logger's camp in this respect. The big, square, open chimney, aided by a constant fire underneath, keeps up an immense draught, and renders the air as pure as the outdoor atmosphere itself. I recommend such a place as a hospital for consumptives. Oh ye pulmonary sufferers, throw away your bottles of quackery, your "Cod Liver Oil," etc., and spend a winter with the happy logmen in a camp; try a tonic of pine boughs.

After a half hour or so the cook, a tall, dark-haired, rather intelligent-looking Frenchman, announced that our supper was ready. We took our seats on a rude bench, and at a table which never came from a cabinet shop and never saw a table-cloth, but which had on it now a dish of smoking-hot beans, two tin basins of warm tea, some excellent raised biscuits, etc. There was no milk for the tea, and no butter for the biscuits, but the long, cold ride had sharpened our appetites so much that extras were not needed to give what was before us the desired relish. As we drank our tea and ate heartily of the pork and beans my friend described to me the process of cooking the latter. Pointing to a spot at the end of the log-fire and near us, he showed me a huge iron pot filled with beans and covered tightly, and which is buried every night in the hot ashes, where the cooking operation goes on, and during the hours in which the consumers of these staple edibles are snoring off the effects of yesterday's meals. Good judges say that this manner of preparing beans for the table is much superior to any other. I am ready to testify to the excellent quality of those I ate—a little too rich they were for my dyspeptic stomach—at least they were, somewhat too highly seasoned with pork fat. But a lumberman's stomach can digest three meals a day of them, fat and all, and without fear of the nightmare. Nothing can swing an axe, or move a saw, or roll logs, like baked beans. No logger who has free access to that iron pot in the ashes complains of exhaustion. A Connecticut preacher, in the olden times, tried to compute the number of bushels of baked beans he had preached to on Sunday during a ministry of forty years. I wonder how many bushels are carried into the pineries every winter!

Our repast being ended, we began to think of retiring; but where shall we sleep? we asked ourselves dubiously. There were two beds only, and these were full. The problem was solved when our cook had laid down a buffalo-robe on the uneven floor and asked us to stretch ourselves there. With another buffalo-robe for our covering, and with our shawls folded for pillows, the prospect for a good night's rest was quite encouraging. My friend took the side next the fire, where his danger of being; burned was about equal to mine of being frozen; but neither of us suffered much. If I dreamed of any thing, it must have been of stockings, socks, and moccasins, as not less than a hundred pairs of these pedal coverings were hanging against the roof, partially over the fire, and exactly in range of my eyes as I had fixed myself for sleep; and being a little nervous from my long ride and late supper, I was obliged to lie awake an hour or more and study this singular sight. Calling my friend's attention to the matter, I asked if we were not in a stocking-factory or a moccasin-store instead of a lumberman's forest-house. He replied that "the loggers are obliged to take good care of their feet; that one of them often wears three or four pairs of socks, with a pair of moccasins over them; that the moccasins, because they give the feet more freedom, rendering them less liable to freeze, are generally preferred to coarse leather boots. Those you see hanging there will disappear in the morning, because they will all be pulled on to their owners' feet and walked off into the woods. To-morrow night they will be hung up in the same places to dry again; although, as the snow in this northern latitude is generally very dry, they seldom get wet much," I listened to my friend's explanation with deep interest, suggesting to myself that if all persons would take as much pains to protect their feet against cold and wet, consumption would be cheated of a majority of its victims.

A feeling of drowsiness seized me at last, and as the camp was still, save the occasional snoring of the loggers and the falling of a firebrand now and then, the hundred pairs of stockings faded slowly from my vision, and I dropped off into a sleep, wondering at the latest point of consciousness if St. Nicholas ever visits a lumberman's camp, and if so, if he feels himself bound to stuff every woolen leg he finds there with Christmas gifts!

We rose in the morning soon after daylight. The workmen had already cleared the line over the fire of its burden of stockings, and were walking about the camp with muffled feet, preparing for breakfast. The fire, which had been allowed to smoulder and go partially out during the night, had received a fresh supply of logs, and brought the room into such a comfortable degree of warmth we could hardly believe the statement made by one of the men that the thermometer, hanging against the log-barn, showed the mercury to be twenty-four degrees below zero. The cook disentombed the iron pot, dished out a quantity of beans, and putting them on the table, with a few other eatables, announced that breakfast was ready. The men ate rapidly, and with an appetite that is enjoyed by those only who gain their bread by the sweat of the face. Very little was said during the meal, and each one, as soon as he had finished, rose and departed to his day's work.

About ten o'clock our horses were harnessed, and we started for Moses's Camp, on Tibbet's Brook, forty miles distant. The air was quite still low down in the woods, but the soughing pine-tops told plainly that a furious gale was raging out on the unsheltered prairie. Notwithstanding the protection which the forest afforded, we found it necessary to seek the still further aid of all our extra clothing to keep out the intense cold; and whenever we came to the bank of a stream, or some other opening where the wind had a fair chance at us, our faces tingled with frost, and we wept tears of ice. Our horses bounded forward as gayly as reindeers, while the frost hung their nostrils full of stalactites, and ornamented parts of their bodies with silver-tipped hairs.

We reached Lowell's Camp, on the "East Branch," at twelve o'clock, and Moses's Camp a little before dark. The air of comfort and welcome which greeted us on entering the latter forest home seemed all the more agreeable on account of the extremely inhospitable day we had braved to get there.

The interior of this camp differed from Tidd's Camp in some respects. It was warmed by a large stove instead of an open fire, and thus it dispensed with that splendid ventilator, the big chimney. Then it had the addition of a cellar; of more complete cooking arrangements; in short, it was a more stylish, aristocratic establishment than the first. It evidently belonged to the Fifth Avenue of the pineries. Two clocks, one an alarm-clock, stood side by side on a shelf; the pantry displayed a fine assortment of tin dishes; and the Deacon's Seat was smooth and nice. Over the window, at the east end of the camp, and on the kitchen walls, was a large advertisement, telling the woods people that Beecher and Spurgeon are the "two greatest preachers in the world," and that "their sermons are published every week in the Examiner and Chronicle!" Who can doubt the peerless ability of these pulpit orators, or the wonderful enterprise of their publishers, after seeing such an advertisement posted on the walls of a forester's cabin in the far off Minnesota Pineries ?

The cook at this camp I soon discovered was to the "manner born." He moved about in his white apron with an educated air, and seemed as cleanly and genteel and affable as though he had just been transferred from the Astor House. He had nothing but tin dishes to set off his table with, but these were kept bright and clean; and the food, well cooked, was brought on with as much precision and style as his humble cuisine would allow. His biscuits were light and palatable; his gingerbread was excellent; his tea was delicious. Besides these he gave the men nice boiled beef, the everlasting dish of beans (though these were not baked in the ground), and stewed cranberries. He gave them butter and milk also—the latter luxury they owed to a good cow kept in one of the log-stables, and which was driven into the woods at the beginning of winter.

Thirty fine-looking, healthy, robust, well-behaved men sat down at the supper-table, and who, when their appetites were sated, broke up the evening in various ways. Some mended their clothes, some darned their socks, some, using the sinews of the deer, obtained of the Indians, for thread, repaired their moccasins, while others employed their time in reading. The hours were relieved, too, by a little entertainment in the shape of music and dancing. One young man, who had swung the axe all day, rosined up his bow and gave us a few lively airs on his fiddle, while two other logmen, who had tramped in twelve inches of snow since the early morn, engaged in a "double shuffle," or something of the kind, on one of the planks of the floor. A pleasant-voiced son of Erin sang two or three songs, substituting simple musical sounds where he was unable to recall the words. Others still filled the intervals between the music with conversation on a variety of topics, breaking out now and then in loud, hearty laughter. One Scandinavian youth, busily patching his pants, which had suffered by their contact with pine-knots, interested several listeners with some neighborhood gossip he had treasured up with singular minuteness, concerning a hidden pot of gold, and a ghost which kept watch over it, frightening those who came to dig for the treasure.

Of course a camp full of woodmen could hardly be expected to pass a whole evening on the "Deacon's Seat," around the big stove, without more or less indulgence in tobacco. A large number puffed away at their meerschaums, or their short, black, clay pipes, looking a kind of quiet content, and as if the weariness they brought in from their day's work were really taking flight in clouds of smoke. No stimulants stronger than tobacco and tea were allowed in the pineries; the woods had not yet received enough of the influence of civilization to admit a bar within their hallowed shades.

At ten o'clock the signal for retiring was given. A half hour later and most of the logmen were snoring—perhaps dreaming of friends "down the river." At half past five in the morning the alarm-clock put an end to snoring and dreaming, and called the men from their beds again.

As soon as breakfast was dispatched the workmen divided themselves into separate squads, according to their respective charges, and went to their labors: one squad to drive the teams; another, the "choppers," to fell the trees; another, the "swampers," to prepare the roads; another, the "sawyers," to saw the trees into logs. Notwithstanding the mercury was still at a frightful distance below zero my friend and I followed on—he to see how his men had got along, how many logs bad been hauled, etc.; I to obtain a little information concerning the logging business. We had gone but a few rods when we made the discovery, by some tracks in the snow, that a couple of wolves had been prowling about our camp during the night. Why they did not come nearer, give us their usual lupine serenade, and even thrust their noses into the door, we did not understand. This was the nearest we came to seeing any wild beasts during our stay in the woods. We hoped to meet some deer, as their tracks were plenty every where, but we did not happen to see one. Very much to our disappointment, we saw only one wild Indian. This one, as he stepped out of the road to let us pass, frightened our horses terribly with the great white blanket thrown over his head. It is said that horses dislike the peculiar scent that Indians carry about their persons and clothes.

Within a quarter of a mile of the camp we came where the pines stood thick and tall, and handsome enough to delight any lumberman's eyes. Hundreds of splendid symmetrical trunks might have been counted without changing our position; and one could almost fancy, as he looked out among them, that they were the columns of some old and endless temple, their dark and shaggy tops forming the lofty roof, and the snow beneath the white marble floor. Often three or four trees of about equal size were seen standing close together in a cluster, as though they sprang from kindred germs, and had cherished a common sympathy through their hundred years of growth; generally, however, those large enough for use were half a dozen yards apart—sometimes as many rods. Scattered between them were a few oaks, iron-wood, and birch—the latter ornamented with the usual fringes and curls. All the timber here, except the pine, is valueless. Although wood is worth, when cut, from $6 to $10 a cord in Minneapolis and St. Paul, it is not worth ten cents a cord on Tibbet's Brook, because there is no means for transporting it to places where it is wanted. Even the land itself will, in many cases, be abandoned to the tax claims as soon as it is cleared of pine.

Notwithstanding the general excellence of the pines which stretched away in grand perspective on every side, there were many, of course, unfit for use. Some were short and scraggy; some were "shaky;" and some were old and rotten. Marsh, in his article on the "Quality of Timber," says: "The white pine, Pinus Strobus, for instance, and other trees of similar character and uses, require for their perfect growth a density of forest vegetation around them, which protects them from too much agitation by the winds, and from the persistence of the lateral branches, which fill the wood with knots. A pine which has grown under these conditions possesses a tall, straight stem, admirably fitted for masts and spars; and at the same time its wood is almost wholly free from knots, is regular in its annular structure, soft and uniform in texture, and consequently superior to almost all other timber for joinery. If, while a large pine is spared, the broad-leaved or other smaller trees around it are felled, the swaying of the tree from the action of the wind mechanically produces separation between the layers of annual growth, and greatly diminishes the value of the timber. The same defect is often observed in pines which, from accident of growth, have over-topped their fellows in the virgin forest. The white pine growing in the fields or open glades in the woods is totally different from the true forest tree, both in general aspect and quality of wood. Its stem is much shorter, its top is less tapering, its foliage is denser and more inclined to gather into tufts, its branches more numerous and of larger diameter, its wood shows much more distinctly the divisions of annular growth, is of coarser grain, harder, and more difficult to work into mitre joints. Intermixed with the most valuable pines in the American forests are many trees of the character I have just described. The lumbermen call them 'saplings,' and generally regard them as different in species from the true white pine, but botanists are unable to establish a distinction between them, and as they agree in almost all respects with trees grown in the open grounds from white pine seedlings, I believe their peculiar character is due to unfavorable circumstances in their early growth. The pine, then, is an exception to the general rule as to the inferiority of the forest to the open-ground tree."

The truth of much, if not all, of this quotation was verified wherever we made an observation. The tallest, straightest, finest pines we saw, those freest from limbs and knots, among which the logmen seemed to revel like a herd of oxen just let loose in a full-grown field of Illinois corn, were found in the densest portions of the woods, where the shade was so great and the atmosphere so dank that a ray of sunlight could hardly penetrate there. The low, scraggy growths, whose unmannered trunks gave them immunity from the ruthless axe, were generally situated in more open places, and at greater distances from each other. The thicker the neighborhood the statelier and loftier grew each individual tree, as though it took a kind of pride in outdoing its fellows. Sometimes a tree which had a fair outside, like the hypocrite among men, was shaky and hollow within; and as we have certain methods of testing the virtue of human pretensions, so the chopper had a way of sounding his tree, determining its internal condition often by the first stroke of the axe; besides, he could detect the lumber qualities of a tree by his experienced eye, to which patches of lichens and certain colored fungi attached to the bark as surely revealed a concealed rottenness as the scarlet excrescences on a drunkard's nose divulge the fact of an unsound life.

Following close upon the "choppers," who did nothing but fell the trees and trim them, came the "sawyers." Two men standing on opposite sides of a prostrate tree, a few feet apart, and facing each other, one with his right and the other with his left foot advanced grasp the upright handles of a cross-cut saw, and drawing it backward and forward with an easy, regular motion, expelling the saw-dust, whose piny odor is pleasant to a lumberman's nostrils, into a heap on either side of the tree, they sever the trunk into logs of various lengths. Next came the "swampers," who prepared the roads for the teams which were waiting to draw the logs away to the landing.

I watched the "loading" process with a deep interest, as I saw here how intellect, as every where else, has triumphed over mere brute force. The time was, and not many years ago, when logmen had little to aid them in getting their logs on to a sled besides their own hands. There was then no alternative but the hardest kind of lugging and lifting; but all that has changed. Using a log-chain, which is attached to the middle of the log in such a way as to get a purchase on the latter, and cause it to roll when the chain is pulled, the logman now makes the oxen do the lifting, while he superintends the operation and applies a little brain work. Six large logs were piled on to one sled in a few moments of time, two or three men assisting with their "cant-dogs," the whole costing as little manual effort as the laying together of an equal number of common fence-rails. The sleds used were at least one-third wider than common sleds, and hence they made a very wide path. Along this "broad gauge" we followed the teams to see where the logs were deposited. After a few minutes' walk we emerged from the thick timber into an opening through which ran Tibbet's Brook. Here was what was called the "landing." Standing on the banks of that winter-bound brook we could see thousands of logs which had been cut and hauled from the surrounding forests. Counted in feet the logs we saw at a single view numbered between four and five millions! It was a splendid sight. My friend, who owned them all, and as many more besides, whose mill at Minneapolis, a hundred miles below, was ready to convert these logs into sawed lumber, worth on an average twenty dollars per thousand feet, must have enjoyed the spectacle even more than I.

In order for the reader to gain any adequate idea of the lumber interests carried on in these woods it should be observed that there were a great many other landings scattered about in different sections and on various streams, perhaps fifty in all, similar to the one I have mentioned—some smaller and some larger. Nearly or quite an equal number might have been found on the Upper Mississippi itself above St. Cloud. In both pineries, the Upper Mississippi and Rum River, from eight hundred to a thousand men were employed, and not far from one hundred millions of feet of logs were secured during the winter.

The streams spoken of, on which "landings" are made, are numerous, and traverse an extensive tract of country, intersecting everywhere rich pine regions, and serving as outlets to the thousands of logs that are rolled over their banks. Although many of these streams, at certain seasons of the year, are so shallow and muddy that an Indian can not navigate them in his birch canoe, yea, that a common teal duck can not find enough depth of water to swim there, yet when swollen by the spring thaws each one bears away on its bosom great argosies of wealth, and becomes in the lumbermen's eyes a modern Pactolus. In some instances the pines grow very near the streams, and the trouble of hauling the logs is slight; but often they are brought three or four miles. The hauling distance, for obvious reasons, will increase from year to year.

The process of moving the logs from their winter "landings" down the streams to Minneapolis and St. Anthony is called the "drive." The operation begins as soon as the snows are melted and the streams, augmented by the spring freshets, are high enough to float the logs. In those instances where the stream is too shallow and feeble to lift the logs, even with the help referred to, a dam is built across it, and from the waters thus temporarily deepened the logs are pushed forward a considerable distance to a point where they must wait, it may be, for the erection of another dam. By repeating this slow, tedious, and expensive work the logs are moved along into the river, where they float with less trouble. Some of the brooks are deep enough at the start without any dam. It is a magnificent sight to see the thousands of logs as they come down out of the forest, swimming along singly or in large masses, into the main body of Ram River at Princeton. The surface of the river below this point is sometimes entirely covered for a distance of twenty-five miles.

The men employed on the "drive," and who, for the most part, are men who spent the winter in the woods, and who consent to engage in this business at considerably increased wages, divide themselves into separate squads, and proceeding along the river, urge the logs forward as rapidly as possible.

Behind the whole line of operations, or behind each regiment of logs, follows the "waugan"—a small boat or barge with a canvas awning stretched over it, and carrying the cook, cooking-utensils, and supplies for the men. At the meal-hour, which occurs four times a day, the "waugan" hauls up to the bank, fastens her bow to a tree, when the cook spreads his table on the shore and blows his horn—the echoes of which, as they sound along the winding stream, call the weary men to their ample repast of hot tea and baked beans. At each sunset the captain of the "waugan," having moored his craft to the shore again, selects a proper spot and erects a tent, under which the men spend the night. A big, hot fire in front of the tent keeps off the night chill.

The men by long practice on the "drive" become very expert in their business. They balance themselves on floating logs and leap from one to another of these precarious footings with the agility and skill of circus-riders, while green hands would be sure of a ducking every few minutes, if they did not meet with the worse fate of breaking their necks. If a log lodges on a rock in the middle of the stream, the nearest man plunges into the water, often waist-deep, and wading out to it catches hold of the refractory member with his "cant-dog"—a short hand-spike with an adjustable iron hook attached to the end—and hurls it quickly into the channel again, when it darts forward after its fellows. If the water is too deep for wading, an experienced oarsman puts off toward the points of obstruction in a "batteau"—a long, slim, red boat, which shoots over the waves with the ease and swiftness of an Indian's arrow. This boat is handled by a single oar, is not easily upset, will stand any amount of jamming against stones, can swim in the shallowest places, and ride safely down the most dangerous rapids. Sometimes several men may be seen in it, standing, and pushing it about with long poles. Whether it is moored under the banks, or left to float at will on some circumfluous wave along the margin of the river, or making its diagonal trips from shore to shore, or running in and out of the spaces between the floating logs, the "batteau" forms one of the most novel, picturesque, and stirring things which one will encounter in a "drive."

Often, while making a turn in the river, the immense mass of logs crowd so close upon each other that they fill the whole space between the shores, and form a vast wedge, or, in the vernacular of lumbermen, a "jam," and which, until it is broken, prevents any further progress of the logs; as soon, therefore, as this "jam" happens a score of men, with their "cant-dogs" in hand, rush on to the obstructed logs, and loosening a few of the front ones, put the whole in motion once more.

Another frequent and laborious part of the "drive" is "sacking." This takes place when the logs, by means of a rapid current at a bend in the river, or from some other cause, have been thrown up and lodged upon the shore. To get them back again into the river, three or four, often half a dozen, men seize each log with their "cant-dogs," and absolutely lift it or drag it along the mud and sand a considerable distance.

And thus, by "sacking," breaking "jams," wading and dislodging stragglers, pushing the shore logs toward the middle of the current, rowing here and there in the batteau, and tumbling such pines as had perched themselves high and dry on some projecting bank or stone—by all these processes, repeated day by day, the whole "drive" is advanced until; after a few weeks, it reaches the "booms" prepared for it at the mouth of the Rum River and at other points on the Mississippi near the Minneapolis and St. Anthony mills. Passing down Tibbet's Brook a short distance we came to Moses's lower "landing," which differed from the other in no important particular except that it contained a few logs of enormous size. On the butt end of the largest one we counted two hundred and fifty annular rings! Thus the tree from which it was taken was born about the year that William Shakspeare died and Oliver Cromwell matriculated at Sussex College. It was four or five years old when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock; and was a flourishing youth of fifty when John Milton went quietly to sleep in his house at Bunhill Fields; it had stretched its green top up to a magnificent height, and was able to boast of an experience of nearly one hundred and fifty years when the famous and infamous "Stamp Act" was passed, and before Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan claimed even a territorial government; its two-hundredth birthday had passed before a single white man had come to admire its giant trunk, and before its " topmost branches," peering over the shoulders of younger pines, could see beyond the "Land of the Dakotas." How cruel that a civilization so long waited for should signal its approach by ordering her first hardy skirmishers to cut this patriarch of the forest down, and to bring in its dismembered parts as a trophy of the ever-widening circle of her conquests! Two centuries and a half of patient growing to be torn asunder in a moment by irreverent saws, and to serve the cupidity of a race that turns all the natural waterfalls into milldams, and the forests into lumber-yards!

To what degree of longevity this tree might have attained if it had been left to its natural course is uncertain, but we could discover no signs of decay, internal or external. Dr. Williams, who is quoted by Mr. Marsh, says he found "pines four hundred years old," and that a friend of his discovered soiree "much older." So it is probable that our tree might have survived another term of two hundred years. In that case what other changes would it have witnessed in this country before its branches rotted and its heart became worm-eaten and dead?

At twelve o'clock all the men returned to the camp for "nooning." The horses and oxen were unloosed from the sleds, driven into the log-barn, and fed with hay and oats, while the workmen sat down with huge appetites to their savory dishes of beans. My friend and I, dreading to encounter the stinging air again, spent the afternoon on the Deacon's Seat, close by the camp stove. The following morning we bade adieu to our camp friends, who had entertained us so generously, and started for home by way of St. Cloud. Our road, which struck off in a westerly course, led us in a little while across the "West Branch" of Rum River, and along by the door of Brown's Camp. The sun shone clear in the cold March sky, dropping a beam now and then through the dense boughs upon the quiet snow, which was spread like a white carpet on the floor of the woods. The air, although a little more pungent than one might wish, was brisk and healthy, causing our frames to tingle with inexpressible delight. A more charming, inspiring, invigorating morning's ride than this can hardly be imagined. The road, much of the time, wound through a majestic colonnade of pines, whose branches formed splendid arches over our heads, and threw down the most welcome odor. Altogether we seemed to be riding through an enchanted forest. The scene was mightily changed, however, the moment we emerged from the woods and began to cross the open prairie east of St. Cloud. The wind, seeming to seek revenge for our temporary escape from its power, swept upon us with merciless fury, and we were obliged to cover our faces to keep them from instant freezing.

We at last reached St. Cloud at two o'clock. After a rest of two hours we drove to Clear Water, where we spent the night. The next day about five o'clock p.m. we arrived in Minneapolis, having ridden two hundred miles during the five days of our absence, and all but thirty miles of the distance in a sleigh, the thermometer keeping far enough below zero all the while to make it one of the coldest weeks ever experienced by Minnesotians in the month of March.


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