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New York State Forest, Fish and Game Commission Logging Operation, c. 1915

Logging operation

New York State Archives, NYSA_14297-87_D-G-9
 
Document Description
Loggers move logs in the water with long poles while standing on wooden platforms (docks), c. 1915. This image was created to record logging-related activities of the New York State Forest, Fish and Game Commission/Conservation Commission/Conservation Department.
 
Questions
What are the men in this photograph doing?
How do the tools the loggers are holding help them with their work?
Why would loggers use rivers to transport logs?
What transportation technology that we have today revolutionized the transport of logs?
Why was the Adirondack region attractive for logging?
What are some problems that can result from cutting down too many trees?
How did the use of technology increase the number of trees cut down?
What do we, as a society, encourage to help reduce the number of trees cut down?
 
Historical Challenges
Peripheral industries sprouted around logging centers, such as tanning. How and why were tanning and logging connected? Locate Tannersville, New York, on a map. Research its local history in connection with the logging industry.
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: One egg has approximately 80 calories, one pancake 120 calories, and one sausage 95 calories. If a lumberjack eats 10 eggs, 7 pancakes, and 9 pieces of sausage, how many calories did he eat?
Science: Research the environmental impact of deforestations and conservation efforts. Experiment with recycling paper in your classroom.
English Language Arts: Compare the tales of Tony Beaver (Appalachia) and Paul Bunyan (Northeast States). What similarities can be found? What do these say about the life of a lumberjack?
 
Resources
Luen, Nancy. Song for the Ancient Forest. Simon & Schuster Children's, February 1993. ISBN: 0689317190
Barron, T.A. The Ancient One. The Penguin Group, December 2003. ISBN: 0441010326
MacMillan, Dianne. Life in a Deciduous Forest. Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated, March 2003. ISBN: 0822546841
Kellogg, Steven. Paul Bunyan. William Morrow & Company, Inc., March 1985. ISBN: 0688058000
Locker, Thomas. Sky Tree. HarperCollins Publishers, August 2001. ISBN: 0064437507
 

 

About this Activity

 

Lesson Topic:

 
Historical Context
Since the early 1800s, logging has been a major industry in the Adirondack region of New York. As early as the 1850s, logging camps had been established in the inner regions of the Adirondack forests. The Adirondack’s forest is full of Northern hardwoods such as sugar maples, yellow birch and beech trees. These hardwoods were ideal for lumber production. By 1870, paper making from wood pulp was brought to the United States, making all of the trees in the region valuable, regardless of size or species. In addition to the hardwoods, softwoods such as hemlocks, poplar, balsam, and spruce could also be cut down.

Logging was a three-season business despite the Adirondack’s harsh weather and the inherent dangers of felling and transporting the large trees. Generally, in the spring and summer the loggers would begin to fell the trees, which would continue into the fall. Also in the summer, lumber camps, roads, and skidways were built.  A skidway is a framework on which logs are piled for storage until they are shipped.

In the fall, loggers would remove the bark from the cut trees and transport the logs to yards for export. Then, the production would be slowed to a crawl between the late fall and January. However, by late January enough snow would have fallen to haul the logs on sleds to banking grounds where they would be stored to await further transportation by sled or river driving.

From the banking ground the trees could be transported in one of two ways. The trees could be loaded onto a sled and hauled down the mountain on the roads cleared the previous spring and summer, or the logs could be pushed into the river and floated down the mountain, a method known as river driving. Both methods were dangerous and hard work.
 
Essential Question
How does geography impact local economies?
 
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and evaluate the impact of geography on the local economy.