You also want an ePaper? Increase the reach of your titles

YUMPU automatically turns print PDFs into web optimized ePapers that Google loves.

Long before the mechanized efficiency of heavy equipment, loggers would

make use of horse or cattle drawn grease-laden skidders to transport the

timber to a nearby river. Standing amidst the floating giants, men would

leap from log to log. They pushed, pulled, and relieved the river of jams

using tools like a spear-and-hook-tipped pole called a peavey. These were

the “log drivers” responsible for getting the wood to a downstream mill.

Originally referenced as loggers, the term “lumberjack” was born in

Canada. It typically refers to the old-school badasses that didn’t have the

luxuries of modern equipment. They traveled from camp to camp,

job to job in order to make a living. Some names for specific jobs in the

logging industry contained just as much character as the men that

occupied them. High climbers, river rats, catty-man, chasers, choker

setters, faller, bucker, and hook tenders were but a few of the jobs

available if you had the stones.

But put a bunch of hard working men in the same area, give them

a little Devil Juice, and you know you’re going to get something

dangerously fun. Many of the men would engage in competitions to see

who was the best in the camp; this is a tradition that can be seen to this

day at many modern county fairs or even on ESPN. Two-man saw

competitions, chainsaw speed cutting, axe throwing, log rolling, and

climbing are but a few challenges that have all experienced revivals in the

quest for cash and notoriety.

Maybe one of the most legendary lumberjacks in history was a Maine

native named Albert Lewis “Jigger” Johnson. In fact, remember those

craft-beer swilling phonies mentioned earlier in this article? They would

have been reduced to crumbling messes if they read the first paragraph

on Jigger’s Wikipedia page:

“Albert Lewis Johnson (1871 – 1935), better known as Jigger Johnson,

also Wildcat Johnson, Jigger Jones, or simply Th e Jigger, was a

legendary logging foreman, trapper, and fire warden for the U.S.

Forest Service who was known throughout the American East for

his many off-the-job exploits, such as catching bobcats alive

barehanded, and drunken brawls.”

This is our kind of guy. Hundreds of tales arose about Jigger’s exploits.

Some stories were based in fact considering he was one of the most

respected foremen on logging jobs in the East. However, there were

many more stories about his ferocious nature when wronged (or drunk).

While searching for some employees that left camp without permission,

Johnson stormed into a local pub. He then grabbed a peavey and started

swinging at any man that stood in his way. The pub’s massive Canadian

bouncer tried to stop Johnson, but was no match. Jigger tossed him

across the room, placed him on a hot stove, then after he had warmed

up, Johnson hit him with a kerosene lamp, setting him ablaze. Needless

to say, the rogue employees went back to the job.

Jigger Johnson was an iconic representative of the lumberjack culture

of the day: Work hard, treat people fairly, and stay until the job is done.

No exceptions.

Today, logging is still a cornerstone of development in this country.

Clearing land will always be needed. However, jobs that once needed large

crews of men can now often be done with a handful of skilled people

running dozers, feller bunchers, and diesel powered hauling equipment.

Armed with huge chainsaws that would make video game heroes blush,

there is still a vibrant community of men (and of course some women)

with forearms like steel springs, weathered skin, and that thousand yard

stare known only by those that have live a long hard life.

It’s doubtful the world will see another set of men like the lumberjacks

of the 19th century; but this country wouldn’t exist without them. Here’s

to all the fallers, buckers, and river rats that helped to literally build this

country with their bare hands.

7 8

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!