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The last log drives.
December 17, 2010 4:05 PM   Subscribe

It's been 30 years since the last log drive. Log drives were a way of life in the woods. In Quebec, Idaho, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, Minnesota and Connecticut. The last one in Maine was 1976.

There are more pictures and video.
posted by woodjockey (18 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
For he goes birlin' down and down white water, that's where the log driver learns to step lightly...
posted by ZaphodB at 4:14 PM on December 17, 2010 [9 favorites]


Eponysterical.
posted by ob at 4:23 PM on December 17, 2010


Fantastic post, thanks!

Louise Dickinson Rich describes some of the log drive culture in Maine in her books.
posted by Melismata at 4:52 PM on December 17, 2010


And, I should add, she had a hard some understanding why something so "romantic" was also so destructive.
posted by Melismata at 4:54 PM on December 17, 2010


Louise Dickinson Rich describes some of the log drive culture in Maine in her books.

When reading the FPP and links she and her books came to mind for me, as well ... particularly her first book: We Took To The Woods.
posted by ericb at 4:56 PM on December 17, 2010


Althought "river drives" ceased in Finland in the 1990's, more controlled methods still go on.
posted by hoskala at 5:41 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


   Sometimes I live in the country
   Sometimes I live in the town
   Sometimes I get a great notion
   To jump in the river and drown
posted by perspicio at 6:20 PM on December 17, 2010


There is one class of men in this country, that never is mentioned in song...

Though Stan was a Bluenose... we'll forgive him that.
posted by hangashore at 6:24 PM on December 17, 2010


Damn John Irving. Whenever I hear "log drive" all I can think about is the poor Winkles, Homer's new foster parents, cavorting in the rapids as Homer watches. Then, as in all Irving novels, tragedy strikes....
posted by caddis at 6:29 PM on December 17, 2010


In French, and in song (by Félix Leclerc), La Drave. I grew up in a town located on the banks of the Lièvre, the river depicted in the movie, and I remember seeing log driving on the river until the late 1980s.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:13 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]



Man. I really am a spoiled wuss.

Great post.
posted by notreally at 7:39 PM on December 17, 2010


Logs were driven on the Ottawa until 1990. I remember seeing the river full of logs, a mile of timber from north to south shore that a man could walk across. I remember days of sulphurous air so thick you would taste eggs all day from the mills where my grandfather worked. The Ottawa was a lumber run for more than a century (pdf).

Twenty years on, there are men who make their wages reclaiming the logs that sank to the bottom of the river and remain there, in the cold, airless water, lining the river bed. They say that at least a generation will be able to harvest the strays of the old log runs.
posted by bonehead at 7:50 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Popular Mechanics link was great. Keep on scrolling down past the article for all sorts of great stuff. Terrific post. Thanks.
posted by AugustWest at 8:36 PM on December 17, 2010


I have seen that OPB segment on splash dams before. The scars from the splash dams and the log jams are still visible on all the local rivers. It was an incredibly brutal practice; we do a lot of bad things still, but at least we have moved away from some of the most egregious.

I'm not an opponent of logging at all, but I think that the more it can be pushed into low-impact practices, the better. It will mean higher costs for wood and paper, but that's ok -- there's no way to make low-impact logging pay if the commodity price is too low.
posted by Forktine at 9:19 PM on December 17, 2010


I watched the video hoping for a glimpse of the Katahdin and I was rewarded. I love that old steamboat. I spent a lot of time up on Moosehead Lake when I was a kid and she was always part of the scenery, even in the winter when she was pulled up on shore. The Kate is still in operation, although obviously she no longer does log drives. But you can take a cruise aboard her. A couple of summers ago I took my whole family and we all got a chance to take the helm. It was a great experience. I even have a beautiful hand-made scale model of the Kate on a shelf in my house. There's a guy in Greenville who makes models of all the steamboats that used to ply the waters of Moosehead.
posted by Man-Thing at 6:31 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


caddis: "Damn John Irving. Whenever I hear "log drive" all I can think about is the poor Winkles, Homer's new foster parents, cavorting in the rapids as Homer watches. Then, as in all Irving novels, tragedy strikes...."

That's funny, I thought of the orphan who dies in a log drive on the first page of Last Night in Twisted River, also by John Irving. It's not like Irving to reuse a trope a bit too often.
posted by JMOZ at 6:36 AM on December 18, 2010


Susquehanna Log Boom, Williamsport PA
posted by maurice at 6:57 AM on December 18, 2010


Nice post! I used to go fishing in 1st and 2nd Machias lakes. All the log roads up there make great dirt bikin'. :)
posted by zoogleplex at 10:33 AM on December 18, 2010


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