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This conversation with WILLIAM STOWELL, who is known by most people as,"Michigan Bill", took place at his home in Lewiston, Idaho on October 29, 1975. The interviewer is SAM SCHRAGER. (There is some technical difficul ty with this tape.)
WILLIAM STOWELL: I come from Canada, but I worked all over upper Michigan.I was born in Canada.
SAM SCHRAGER: I've heard that upper peninsula there in Michigan was some logging country.
SS: How did you wind up in Michigan?
WS: In Michigan?
SS: Yeah, how did you wind up there?
WS: Oh, just tramping around,I job, you know. Finally wound upthere. Spent a few years there, not too long. Maybe six, seven years,
WS: Oh, in the early twenties. Twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two.
SS: I've heard something about that country. Were there a lot of Finns?
WS: Oh, Christ, yes. That, was all Fins, that mining country. That wascopper. Yeah, that was ninety percent Finns. Yeah. I knew some of 'em. I didn't never work in the mines, though. I was arouild 'em a lot. They worked in the woods, too. Yeah, there was lots of Finns there.
SS: Did you come out here from there?
SS: Was this country very much like that as far as the what the logginglife was like? Was it similar?
WS: Yeah, practically the same when I came here, except it was steeperground, you know. There it was all level. But here it is pretty hilly, steep. Its a little different logging, you know. Of course, they used horses both places But they used dogs in this country, you know. Nailed together, you see. And long trails of, well, twenty, twenty-five at the most, you know, logs. And then chutes and flumes. They'd chute 'em to the flume and then flume 'em to the river. That's the way they done it here. Too steep for railroads. There was no trucks at that time, so, that's the way they did it. You know a chute?
WS: Well, that's the way they went.
SS: Was it the same thing for the loggers? Same kind of guys out hereas there was back there?
WS: Well, there was more foreigners back there than here. But, otherwise it was the same. Camps, you know. Conditions were different here, they were much better, much better.
SS: Were they better here?
WS: Oh, Lord, God, yes. Yeah. Well, they eliminated the to^p bunkswell,that was later years that they done that, but there was double deck bunks. Two in a bunk. Uppers and lowers.^ And that is bad bus iness. That is one reason I got out of there. Not much chance to improve it. But this country here was a way different.A Clean linen, you know, every week for your bed. It got to be later years all bot tom bunks, you know. They was no top. Oh, yes, much better here.
SS: Did you hear much about the the work they did to improve theconditions?
WS: Yes, Yes, they accomplished wonders.. Yeah. They did. They waskind of a rough and tough outfit, but they got the work done. They got that job done. Direct action is what it was. There was no po litical harum-scarum mixed up in it. It was all direct, on the job. That's how it worked. Yeah.
SS: About what year was it, you got here? In Idaho. Came to Idaho?
SS: By that time, now, the way I've heard it, is was about back in 1917or '18 that the IWff s cleaned up the camps.
WS: Oh, yes, yes. And up until '23— the last big strike was in '23—general strike, for ten days. That was all. It was for the prisoners that was in jail, see. Those that were put in jail during these strikes.
SS: During the earlier ones?
SS: Was it to get them out?
WS: No. no. They didn't make it but they shut everything down, see, that'sall it was. They couldn't get it. But they did make a little up rising here in '36, again, if you remember that. Don't you?
SS: I've heard that.
WS: Yeah, that was for conditions, mostly, and wages. Well, they wanteda minimum of five dollars a day. And clean out the camps. The camps were getting pretty scroungy, you know. I don't know whether it was won or lost. We were out a couple of months. I was working for the Potlatch, then, but we were out a couple of months. I don't believe we lost anything. They cleaned the camps up. And raised the wages. But they didn't do that til after the strike, you see. They broke the strike, that's what happened.
SS: Well, you know that's the story that I've heard before. That way thecompany says that it wasn't the IWW's that mad because they ended the strike and then they made But it's all one and the same thing.
WS: Yes, I look it that way. They didn't do it til after the strike,but they did it. But that was the last feeble attempt of the IWW's that they ever made, in this country.
SS: I was surprised when I heard about the '36 stike that they were stillkicking around all that time. Because these others,the AF of L and those * were getting in and the CIO, too.
WS: Yes. Well, the CIO wasn't too husky yet, in this country, you know.They come in afterwards. The AF of L got booted out and the CIO took over by a large margin, you know. But, I don't know the AF of L, I guess they were— Well, the CIO was political, too, but the other was moreso. I belonged to the CIO, but I never did belong to the AF of L in the woods. I belonged to the piledrivers and the like of that.
SS: I had the idea that the AFof L was more like a craft union than itwas a real industrial union.
WS: Sure, it was, that's what it was, yes. It was a craft union.
SS: That way it'd make more sense. To me the CIO would be in the lumber industry.
WS: Yeah, yeah. It was the lesser evil of the two, but I don't know, I—beings that I had belonged to the IWW, I couldn't see much to either one of 'em.
SS: What do you think made the IWW's so much a better union than the CIO?
WS: Well, you could act, more or less, without all these executive boardsand the like of that, you know. You could hold a meeting and youCoul* decide to do something, and majority ruled. Take a vote, and if the majority wanted it, why, that's the way it was. It went, as far as the crew was concerned. We didn't always win, but it was an ef fort, anyway. So, that was what I liked about it. You got an organ ization, there's too much politcal. High salaries. Big shots. All that. It don't work with the common stiff, you know. I don't fig ure it does.
SS: Most of these unions it never gets down to the workingman. I mean,he never really has any say-so about it. Those decisions are made up there and—
WS: Yeah. Yeah. That's right.
SS: Were you ever in camps that you guys took a vote and then went outon strike?
WS: Oh, yes.
SS: What kind of reason would make you decide you had to do that?
WS: Oh, well, different reasons. Mostly— especially the IWW's. Theywere mostly for conditions. Working conditions and living oonditions. Get away from them old double bunks and lousy camps and bum chuck and all that. They were trying to get something better— well, bet ter living. Is what it was, really. They never did strike too much for money, because they take that away from you anyway. That money. Oh, I don't— I think there are IWW's never come back, you know. The IWW, they're done. They were revolutionary, you know. And a re- volutionary organization at this day and age don't get along very good.
SS: Do you think it made more sense in the off days than it would makenowadays?
WS: Well, that's kind of a hard question to answer. I wouldn't attemptto answer it. I don't know.
SS: Conditions have changed a lot. I sometimes wonder, whether it'schanged all that much, or whether—
WS: People change, you know. People have changed an awful lot. Oh yes.That's what makes it, I think. Is the people, themselves. You see the lumberjack was always a single man, a footloose man, you know. He didn't give a Goddam for anything. He had nothing to lose. And the world to gain. So that's what made him that way, I believe. I'm pretty sure that's the way it was with me. Say a hundred and fifty men in a camp, they might be two percent married, or maybe one percent. All single. And they had no responsibilities except them selves. Anything they could gain, was for them. Now, you see, they're all married. They got responsiblities. Payments on cars and homes and TVs and whatnot. Those days, all a man had was his packsack. Just what was on his back, that's all.
SS: It seems so different than it is, as you were saying then and now.I can't even think of how the situation would arise, so many men would be single and not be tied down by anything.
WS: It's hard to figure that out, isn't it?
WS: I don't know why they never got married. I can't figure that out.Well, I never did. I was just from job to job, you know, and I didn't have no responsibility. Couldn't afford to have many, unless I wanted to settle down and take less money for some other job, you know. We always made a little more than the town workers.
SS: Why was that? You guys could go anyplace where there was a job?
WS: Where the money was, yefrk. Well, then the gyppo system come in. Ofcourse that changed everything. There was a minimum wage but it was awful small. Everybody wants to gyppo, gyppo, gyppo. And they al ways made it so you could— well, you'd come out a third above the regular wages, anyway, you see, by going the limit, you know. Doing the utmost, your very best, every day, you had to. That's the way that was.
SS: Was that a good deal? I mean it sounds— they must have got a lotmore work out of the men.
WS: Oh, yes. Sure. No,that wasn't a good deal for us at all. No, wetried to abolish it, but you couldn't. There was too many that wanted it that way. You know, really wanted it that way. Right down in their hearts they wanted it that way. I mean, good militant union men, too, they were. But, if there was any trouble at all there were always ready to help out. Most of 'em wanted the gyppo system. Lit tle more money. You know, that's what drives people on, is that money.
SS: Sure, for a few years a guy can break his back working if he's young,and really can put out the work, but seems like it's gonna catch up with 'em after while.
WS: Well, it does. Naturally it does, sure. You may think you can doit, but you can't. You'll poop out pretty Goddam sudden like when you get older. That's awful hard work in them olden days, you know. Everything was handwork. The sawing was all handwork, bucking was all handwork, and the skidding was, oh, well, the horses, you know, but peavy work, you know, you had all that to do* and that run into work.
SS: Did the IWW have on that? Did they say gyppo was no good?
WS: Yeah. That's the stand they took. Absolutely no good, no.
SS: If you really believed in the union, then the gyppo would be veryunequal, because the guys that could put out the work could make a lot better than the old-timers, who couldn't do it. Is that right?
WS: Yes, but when you got old enough, you quit gyppoing, though, youcouldn't. You had to quit. (Chuckles) That was the way that worked. Well, you were good up til fifty years old, you know. You knew a lot of shortcuts, by that time, that you didn't know when you were young er.
WS: Well, just generally speaking, you know.
SS: The way to do the work — you mean, like you learned, you reallymastered the whole job.
WS: Yeah, sure, that's it. Yeah, that's my idea, yes. It's just as Isay, you learn a lot of tricks and shortcuts. It all help out at the end of the day, you know. You have accomplished a little more than than the absolute greenhorns would, and done it just about as easy.
SS: I heard that most of the early lumberjacks that were out in thiscountry were old men. Older men. Is that true? As far as you knew, in the early days?
WS: There were a lot of old men, yes. They were a lot of 'em pretty oldwhen they come to this country, you know, from the East. They were all from the East, practically. Eastern Canada and the Midwestern states, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. That's where most of 'em were from when I came out here. And they were all men along in iheir years,
SS: You were one of the young ones?
WS: Yes. Yes, sure. I was only about twenty-three, I think, when Ilanded here. But, all I'd ever did was work in the wood?, you know, when I was a kid at home. Well, the Old Man had timber, you know. The old sawmill.
WS: Yeah, old waterpower sawmill.
SS: You must have seen it ever since you were old enough to see things.
WS: Yes, sure.
SS: Did he let you work on it?
WS: Oh, no. No, I just was around it, you know. I never done nothingaround it. Piled a little lumber, something like that. Worked on the pond a little bit. I was going to school then. I didn't do much work.
SS: Where was that in Canada?
WS: In Quebec; the Province of Quebec. Little small town about the sizeof Pierce, I guess.
WS: Oh, no, he had a sawyer, that's all. The neighbors, they helped out.Do a little work for a little lumber. Work a day or two and get some lumb er.
SS: Did you come down to the States because there was more work here?
WS: No. No, I come down to go to school.
SS: You were still just a kid?
WS: Yeah. I was about seven, I guess.You know in the Midwest— those lumber towns were really tough towns.
WS: Oh, yeah. Of course, they had calmed down some, when I got there.They used to fight for the fun of it. But, I don't know, they kinda cut that out. People change, you know.
SS: Fights were just over — when drinking and that.
WS: Well, yes. There'd be one tough guy and the other A think he wastougher, and he'd maybe go over to the camp where the other guy was working just to challenge him. That's the way that worked. And they were rough, too. Lot of 'em done all their fighting on the floor, they'd chew and bitin', and if they were on their feet they were usin' their shoes.
SS: Cork boots?
WS: Yeah, they went in to win, regardless.
SS: Did any grudges go on for a very long time?
WS: Oh, no. They were forgotten. Sometimes they weren't, but most ofthe time they were. Have it out and over with and go back to drink ing.
SS: Well, was that the same out here, too? Were the towns pretty tough?Out here, the logging towns?
WS: Some of 'em were, yes. Like Aberdeen and Hoquiam. Aberdeen was arough town. Washington. That was about the roughest on the West Coast, I think. Well,they was longshoremen there and lumberjacks and everything, you know. Timber was close to town. And that made a difference, and it was still the single men that was working then.
SS: Did you usually stay with a job for very long?
WS: Yeah, I have stayed six to eight months. And I've stayed two days.Varied, it depended on how the job was, or something. I usually stayed pretty good. Well, it all depends on how things go. If it suited you, you'd stay, if it didn't, you'd go.
SS: The different bosses, you know, formen, did that make a big differ-ence?
WS: Well, it would, yeah. Sometimes. But some people— with meit didn't make any difference who I worked for. I could work for anybody; long as I get along with 'em. But never inter fered with you much. If you were gyppoing you wouldn't see 'em, maybe, from the time you started until you quit. You'd see 'em in camp, you know, but you wouldn't see 'em on the job. But if you were working by the day, you'd see 'em. They'd be around then ev- ery day But they didn't bother you much. No.
SS: Do you think there was much difference between them? Were someforemen really working for the company and others working more for the men?
Well, you can't be both ways. You couldn't be both ways. Somelean a little bit towards the crew, if they come up from the crew, you know what I mean. If they were picked out of the crew, or some thing like that. They would lean a little towards their fellowman, but, ordinarily, of course, he was working for the company. But, you can't hold that againsit him.' And in order to hold the job, they had to be. That was my idea, always. Generally speaking, they were pret ty good bunch of guys.I never seen any of 'em that weren't, anyway.
Axel Anderson, do you know him?
Oh, yeah. I worked for him. He's living yet. In Spokane,
Yeah, I talked to him up there. Oh, I talked to him for hours andhours.
Gosh, he must be old.
About ninety-one, maybe.
And did you know Maler, his brother?
No, I don't know him. I've heard of him.
He was a good guy. Real good guy. Axel's alright too, but, Malkerwas a really good fellow.
He was a foreman, too, wasn't he?
Yes. Good one.
What would make a good foremah like him? What did he do, that madehim a good foreman?
Well, I don't know. He mixed with the crew, in town. on the job.And he drank with 'em. Just generally speaking, he got along real good with 'em. He give 'em a good price for their work, and he got a lot of work done. That was the whole sum and substance of that deal.
SS: Axel said that he thinks the push was in a mind, between thecompany and men. He said he used to like to try to do good by the men and every once in a while he'd get on the carpet with the company.
WS: Sure, sure. I imagine they did. I know they did. I never was apush, but— I kinda imagine that some of 'em would get called on the carpet for being a little bit too lenient, or lean a little bit towards the-^ you know. I know they do. Sure they do. Bound to.
SS: Was Malker a big man, like Axel?
WS: No. He was tall, but— a little taller than Axel, but he was slimmer. He was a little different man than Axel. I don't know why, but he was. Axel was pretty much company. But Malker, he didn't seem to lean that way too heavy, but he was a good push. He was goodreally- good for both sides. He got a lot of work done and he was good with the crew. I always liked him real well. I worked for the both of 'em. I used to work for Malker whenever I was on that side. See, this outfit here, what time did they consolidate? Tell you what—
SS: Something like that.
WS: I remember I was working up here at Camp H, and we got our September-October checks and they had a little strip of paper up in the cor ner— white strip of paper— They used to be the Clearwater Timber Company, you know. The cheks was made out that way. And there was a little piece of paper pasted onto the check— it said Potlatch For ests. I think that was in '31. I'm pretty sure it was. I know I was working.at Camp H for Old Brooks.
SS: Malker was on the other side?
WS: Yeah, he was always over there.
SS: Was there mu«h difference between the two sides? The camps and themen?
WS: Oh, yes. Yes. That other side always had better chuck, better campconditions and everything. That's before they consolidated, you know. It was Potlatch Lumber Company.
WS: That's what it was. And they had awful good horses. I used to liketo go over there on account of the horses. They was good and they took good care of 'em. You couldn't abuse a team of horses there, you know. You wouldn't stay. Them pushers were all pretty much horse lovers, you know. And that old Nogle, you know, he was horse crazy, that guy. He'd sleep with 'em, I think.
SS: Didn't he do most of the buying for them when he was a push?
WS: Nogel, you mean?
WS: Yeah. Sure, he did. Him and the vet. But Nogle did the buying. Idon't know where the hell he got 'em then. Oh, this outfit here used to get pretty good horses in Oregon.
SS: I know in the early days, they bought quite a few from the farmers.WSi Yeah, that's true, that's where they bought 'em all. And then "praised 'em, that was their business, raising horses. They bought wherever they could. This man here on this side, White, he died, he was fifty when he died, I think. I went with him a couple of times buying horses. He'd hear of a team of horses someplace, you know, he'd hear about 'em; he'd go and look at 'em. If they weren't too old and looked good to him, why, he'd buy 'em. If they were well matched, you know. But they used to buy 'em, oh, they'd buy one here and one there and a half a dozen here and so on. Match 'em up themselves, after they got here. Bovill has a nice big meadow over there, you know. And, gee, I used to go over there and look at them horses, right in grass up to their knees. Fat and slick. Nice big barn. I used to like that.
SS: Gee, they had a lot of horses, too. Probably two hundred and fifty,three hundred head of horses in that barn?
WS: Oh, yes. See, I've been in that barn. I brought horses out of thereone time over here. That was in the fall of '32. I don't know how many teams had. must have had thirty pair, anyway. We brought 'em to Elk River, stayed overnight and then come across the North Fork, there was a big island, and into Headquarters. Old Nogle hated to see them horses leave.
SS: How did you take 'em? Was there many guys on a run like that?
WS: There was about four of us, I guess, or five. 'Course I knew theroute, too, but there was a guy that knew the route, that is, from Elk River to Big Island. And, I don't know, maybe six, but we had a wagon with a load of harness in it. They were unharnessed. Unhar nessed 'em all, you know.
SS: Just drove 'em?
WS: Oh, no. Put the harness in the wagon and then led them behind intwos, you know. Had four horses on the wagon and then lead them be hind. And there was a guy with a saddle horse, he took a big bunch, too. That way, we got 'em over. They were alright after they'd be on the road a little while, you know, they'd kinda calm down, But, otherwise, when we first started from Bovill, why, they were all har nessed then, you know. Had the harness on 'em. They was tangled up. Lose a team once in a while have to stop and pick em up. But, we made her, I think in three days.
SS: How many horses?
WS: Oh, they must have been thirty-five pairs, anyway. I can't rememberexactly.
SS: That's a pretty big job. Not an easy one to do.
WS: Yeah. The Bovill side wasn't running , and this outfit didn'trun nothing that summer.
SS: You mean this is when the Depression was on?Yeah. '32. They started up a couple of camps here in the fall. That was that rainy fall, the bridges washed out and everything, be tween Orofino and Headquarters. They quit at New Year's, that time, Christmas was the high water. I think there was fourteen or fifteen bridges went out between Headquarters and Orofino on the railroad to Camas Prairie, I guess it is.
SS: Well, I've heard up there, said that it was a lot rougher up there.One or two guys have said to me that they had the idea that the log ging over on this side was a lot rougher.
Yeah, it was. The ground was rougher, steeper. There was some roughground at Elk River, too, you know at the tail end of their operation there, but to start with, they had a lot of nice ground. Them camps all around Bovill was real nice ground. Two, Four, Five, Six, Seven, they was all nice, well, just little rolling hills, you know, little humps here and there. You could lay steel anyplace pretty near, very little grade. Lot of nice, big pine.
SS: That's probably why they didn't do so much with the stuff like that.
WS: They didn't do any. They laid the railroad right to the stump.They had quite a big railroad crew working. They all had them steam rigs loaded with tongs, you know. Did you know Art Henderson?
SS: - No. I've heard of him, though. Who is he?
He was a— He loaded cars for years, and then he got to be a push.Got killed up here at Camp Y. He was running that camp then. But he come up below a bulldozer, you know. Bulldozer working above and he come up from below, it was shoving over trees and snags and everything else, you know, and he got underneath one. He was a good guy. Damn good guy. I think— Do you know ? I can't think of his name, but he married Art's daughter, anyway. He was some kind of a wheel over there.
WS: Bovill. They haven't got much going over there, have they?
SS: No, they got. They got some work there.
WS: They're on the East Fork of Potlatch Creek, I hear. Aren't they?
SS: I don't know. I haven't been out there— I haven't noticed they'relogging around there lately.
WS: They used to have a big camp right in town.
SS: Did they?
Yeah, right there— well, old Camp 8 was there. That was years ago,that's before my time.
SS: Yeah, old Camp 8, I've heard of that quite a bit.
WS: This other camp, was set up right there where Camp 8 was.
SS: Well, do you think that country was more— it seemed to me—I havethe idea that a lot of the people— more people, maybe in the woods there were people who had families.
WS: Yes, they did. Lots of 'em.
SS: Did that make the camps more settled than on this side?
WS: I don't know. This was always just kind of a- when it first startedup was kind of a hurly-burly outfit, you know. All tramp lumberjacks, all of 'em working there. There was no married men like in Bovill. 'fhere was a lot of married men working in Bovill in the camps.'"you could tell on Sunday, you know, the camp would thin right out, you know. And here, it wouldn't make any difference. Tommy Kinrw was tne superintendent then and he come over here from Montana and took over. There was several pushers come here from Montana. Tommy Stevens. Dave Herman, Henerson And Kinney, of course, Kinney was superintendent here until '36, then he went to the Winton outfit. And he was down in California for a while, for River Lumber Company. But he's dead now, Kinney when is. Bradbury took over after him. He's dead, too.
SS: Well, when you first came out here in the twenties, was there muchthere was supposed to have been going on this side in the way of lumbering, up around Bovill and that country?
WS: Oh no. Well, this mill started in '26; in August of '26.
SS: So they were just getting going pretty big then?
WS: Yeah. They hadn't got into the river yet, but there were railroadcamps here out of Pierce and Headquarters. Oh, yeah, they put in a lot of timber here '27. A hundred cars a day. Then they got in to the river, see. They was cutting a strip the river and they built a road, and then they started up them river camps; B, C, D, F, G.
SS: Was that before the Depression started here?Yeah. Yeah, well, the first drive was in '28, so you see they had to get in there— they logged there in '27. Camp B and C. Yeah, B and C. Camp A, that was at— Camp A was right there where that dam is built now.
SS: Right there near Orofino.
Yeah. All they took out of there was piling for bridges and stufffor the mill, you know. Had a little mill there. There wasn't no timber there much except— (Blanked out with noise) Lot of people never knew where that camp was. Camp A.
SS: What that first one was like, they had on the river?
WS: Sure, I do, I remember all about it. Who the hell had that? Webb.Joshua Webb. I think he must be dead, though. But they drove from it ma Big Island then, you see. That Big Island, that B and C and them camps put that timber in, all flumed. And then the next spring, they drove from Beaver Creek. They had dug in to the river and started camps up there. And Old Brooks brought that drive down as far as Big Island and Webb took it from there on in. But then the next year Old Brooks went all the way through. He— they had wanigans, you see. Well, Webb had wanigans too, but Brooks had to build 'em, too way up the North Fork. But his were just kind of a skimpy affair compared to what Old Webb had. Webb had regular, I guess- wccold They were all square timber together. But the ones Old Brooks built, they were- there was no bolts or spikes or nothing in them, just all made out of wood, you know. They were different lengths of cedar, interlocked this way, you know. And they real flexible. Stuff about eighteen, twenty inches on the butt, it was. Forty and sixty feet long, they were. They were held together by— they were about eighty-five feet long, possibly, about twenty-two feet wide. I helped build 'em. They were held together by what they call widthsthey was wild cherry. And they laid these binders across-
VS: These binders, you know. They was mostly maple, and they was bored,you know, these timbers, this stuff here that the raft was built out of, was bored, you know, and they put this width in and a square peg with it, you know, in the round hole, was the size And that's what held it together. This over this maple, this binder. If you wanted to dismantle 'em you had to cut 'em up. There was nothing come apart, otherwise.
SS: So, it was pretty solid.Oh, yes. Sure. But flexible, you know. In rough water they oscil late, you know, up and down, so there was no breakage in 'em that way.
SS: This was for the first drive?Yeah, they used them all the time after that.
SS: The same kind?The same kind, right up til the last drive. Except they put rubber on. They had rubber, you see, the last. The last ten years, maybe they had pontoons.
SS: Well, this first drive, were they well constructed, well made? Werethey serviceable? Did they do the job?
WS: Yes. Sure they
SS: How did the first drive go? I take it they had never drove down theClearwater before? It must have been a new experience for 'em.
Well, there was an old guy by the name of Piper, he's dead years ago,he run the first rafts. And, he knew the river, he lived on the river. He was an old prospector. But he rafted cedar poles on that river when he used to, I call it pirating or highgrading or whatever the hell you want to call it, before this dam was built, you know. They'd make up wood rafts, cedar rafts and run 'em down into the Snake and on down and sell 'em, you see. But he used to do that. It was his business, he done that. But he knew every pebble in that North Fork. And he run the first rafts down for the company. Helped build 'em. He built 'em. He was the supervisory element, building 'em. He showed 'em how to build 'em and run 'em. So that's how they made 'em at that time.
Did they hire him on just for that job? Was he working for thembefore? Or was he an independent gyppo?
No, he was just independent. He used to make up three or fourand run them, cedar rafts a year, you know. That's before the company started, driving.
So this pirating? Was this really company timber a man was taking?
Anybody's. On the bank of the river, you know. Standing close tothe bank. Well, they done a lot of it, yes. Everybody was doing it. Woods and cedar.
Could a guy make a living that way?
Oh, Christ, yes. Cedar you could, yes.
You had to come down on your raft to be sure it made it?
I wonder where they sold it; how far down did they have to go?
Oh, I don't know. A lot of 'em was sold— made up in posts, cedarposts, you know. They're at a premium down the river, you know. There's no timber down there, down that Snake. You know where that is?
Oh, yes. Probably wouldn't have to go too far.
Tumbleweeds, is all it is. But, yeah, they made a livin' at it.
This Old Piper was a fine old guy. They found him dead in his cabin.He was a funny old guy, he'd never come to town. He'd land out here at the mill with them rafts, that is, when he was driving for the company, you know. And he'd charge back up river. And he was a rag ged old thing, you know. I don't think he ever went to a barber or anything like that. He was just an old hermit, is what he was. But a good old guy.
Did you ever talk to him and know how long he'd been in this country?
WS: Yes. He'd been here for years. I don't know how many cabins hebuilt on that North Fork. He trapped some, too, you know. And he'd get-, well, he'd wander off, you know , going looking his trap line over and he'd have a cabin to stay in. He built just leantos and cabins of all kinds up and down that North Fork. There was another guy come along after him: Silent Joe. Truckee, his name was. He built a half a dozen cabins, too, but he But ne made a living trapping. And he'd work on the drive in the spring. He was a good driver. French Canadian. Real good. And he died up there right on the Goddam flat.
SS: What did Silent Joe come from? He didn't talk?
SS: At all?
WS: Well, he'd say a word or two, of course. But he wouldn't try to keepa conversation or nothin' going. He'd just sit there. I used to go up and see him after he had quit working. He was too old to work. And I used to go in a little earlier than the driving crew, you know, there'd be five or six of us to go in and build them rafts. And he lived about a mile from where we'd be building, and I'd go up to see him. Well, he'd sit there, he wouldn't talk. I'd keep on talking, you know, "Yes,", "No", is all he'd say. And there was nothing in the shack, an old frying pan and a couple of old kettles of some kind. And an old wooden bunk. I said, "Well, I'm going to do, Joe." "Well, sit down." So I'd have to set another half hour. He would never say nothin'. I'd finally get out of there. But he died right there. He never come out.
SS: Same thing as this Piper. He trapped and he did the river drives, too?
WS: Gust Piper. He didn't drive too long. He was down there about fiveyears.
SS: Piper, you mean?
WS: Yeah. He was back up there one spring and they found him dead inthe doorway of his shack. They don t know whether it was t4"> or foul or what happened. I don't think it could be foul, because there was nobody ever around there. I think he just died. He was pretty well decomposed when they found him.
SS: This Piper?
WS: Yeh. Gust Piper. Let's see, who took them rafts then? FrankLarkins. He's dead, too, now. He run 'em then. He wasn't near as good as Old Gust. And then they had different ones after that. I used to work on 'em all time, help move 'em, you know. But I never did run 'em.
SS: That first year, how many of 'em did they have?
WS: They had, one, two, three. They had a sleepin' raft, a cook raft,and a chuck raft. You see they couldn't get no in. There was no roads in there then until they got to Big Island. See, there was sixty miles there, I guess. And rtf the river was heavy and you were movin' slow, you know, that is, say, a mile a day or something like that, it took a lot of chuck, that's why they had the chuck raft. They had a regular crew. Well, there was one man that run the rafts, and then he'd pick up men out off the crew to help him move. And they usually got a day off for that. Well, it took a day. There was a lot of hiking. Say you moved five miles, you had to hike fifteenmiles back, three different times. And then if you missed the landing or something, which we did, that caused more complications then.
SS: What did you do if you missed the landing? You had to rope it backor something?
WS: Oh, no. Impossible to do that. That was out of the question. No,you went to the next one, or you got in someplace where you thought you could. This Old Piper knew every bend in the river, you know. And so did Frank Larkins. They were lucky that way. They always had someone that knew. But later on, when they got motors on them— they put motors on them rubber rafts, them were the first ones they put motors on. Big seven horsepower motors, and they didn't draw that much water; pontoons. You could go up river in places with 'em. You could come to a dead stop anyplace. That is.not anyplace, but if the water wasn't too wicked, you could fetch 'em right to a halt. Yeah, that simplified everything.
SS: How many men would run that raft in the old days ? How many men wouldmove it?
WS: Oh, there'd be usually five.
SS: Did they use poles?
WS: No. Sweeps. Long oars, you know. There was an eighteen foot bladeon about a forty foot stem. The butt oar'd usually have three men. You run and back and forth across with it. The guy run from the stern, the pilot. He would call the shots from the stern. If he wanted to go over to the right, why, he'd holler, "Right!" And you was always in position anyhow, you see, then you would dip your oar and give her a gut to the right, you see. Your oar would be about this high.
SS: Above your head?
WS: Yeah. That is, the back end of it would be. The shorter man wouldbe—
SS: Down close to the edge.
WS: Yeah, he'd be reaching . But you could bring it to time.Take quite a few dub6 you know. Landing was the worst part of it. They'd run through an ordinary eddy, you know, they was so heavy. If you went into the upper end of the eddy they'd either swing on you or run through. If it was a really strong eddy, why, they'd swing on you. They load up with water in front, you know water'd be up to here, and they'd swing. And there you were, you were in a hell of a shape. trouble.
SS: What would you do?
WS: Well, try to straighten it out. You couldn't run from the stern bewaycause the stern was loaded, it was down. The stern was in the water, there was water over the stern. It was too heavy to handle, you had— the bow was up, you know. You had to work it from the bow.You'd turn it again if you could, get the bow ahead. And then try to land. If you got— If you had two rafts, say, the sleeping raft and the cook raft and the chuck raft, well, you had to have 'em together. At night when the crew come in. If you didn't have they be a mile apart, you know. If you missed with one, you'd have to pass it up with the other one, and go where the first one was. And then maybe you'd have to hike three or four miles back to the rear in the morn ing. That was no good. They used to try to keep 'em as close to the rear as possible. That was the idea. Eliminate that hiking, be cause when you're marching, you ain't fightin' (Chuckles)
SS: What kind of a spot did the pilot have to pick out on the river?Did if have to be a real sizeable cove?
WS: Yes. That would be the best. And the bank you know, they tryto get a place— he wouldn't run into a brush pile or nothin'. You had things and stuff to set out on the bank and build fires for the crew at night. tHey had places, you know, after the first couple of years. They had places, regular places, where you landed, as a rule. If the river's moving fast, they'd miss one of these or one or two of 'em, otherwise they'd run in there and tie up, you know. We used to have snublines, and we had a boat, and old batteau. We'd go ahead and set this snubline, see. It was just a long, they were two inch lines, I think, with a in it, you know. And you'd set that a put a stick or something under it, so you could see it. A guy had to bail off of that raft, 'cause it would be tootin' right along. And you had a sort of a line on the raft, maybe thirty feet with a big snap in it, you see; a big iron snap, that long, with a spring in it, you know. Well, you'd grab that and bail off, the guy that was supposed to do the snubbing. There was always one good active man done that, you know. And you'd grab this line with the bone in it, and there was one on a tree, one wrap as a rule, a tree or stump or something. Well, you'd make the joint then you see, with the big snap in the bone, and then you'd drop that and grab the other line, and pay out a little slack. If you snubbed around real tight, and it was in straight water, it would take the stern of the raft down and probably break the line. That's happened, too. Just give it a little slack on the stump and you could snub it any time you wanted to, as far as the— you had the hitch,to do it with, you know.
SS: That spring cushioned —
WS: No, no, that spring was just to keep the lines together. It wasn'ta coil spring. It was just a spring that kept the lines together. After it got in the snap, you know, it couldn't fly up. No, it was no coil spring.
SS: It sounds like you had no time to play or something like that.
WS: No. No. It had to be done. If you missed you was looking at itgoing around the bend. And there you were, you didn't know where the hell they were going. And you made kind of a day for your self, too (Laughter) That was part of it. They'd kid you about that, and maybe find someone else to do it, if you missed too often.
SS: Now the deal on this was that they'd take one raft at a time downand then go back for the next one?
WS: Yes. But when they got the rubber, you know, that's just a few yearsthat they had that rubber. But that was all in one. That was a hun dred and eighteen feet long. Motor on each end. Cookhouse in the middle , the sleepers on each end. three sections. They was awful flexible. But, they was rough to ride, you know. Rough water they'd be just like a bronco, jumping around. But when you landed that thing everything was there. You didn't have to go back after nothing.
SS: I'll bet the old-timers must have really thought that was quite achange.
WS: Oh, yes.
Because you fellows on a drive never could imagine what the old dayswere like.
No. I remember one time we missed with the sleeping wanigan at RobisonIsland, that's just above the Little North Fork, and we never got tied up til we got to Big Island. I don't know what in hell the idea was. It was thirty miles there; I was new on there, too. HI didn't know where the hell we was going. But the others did. Larkins, he knew. Nobody ever did find out, he got canned, anyway.
SS: For that?
WS: For that. When we got to Big Island there was another raftsmanthere. But I hiked back up. I don't know, we had to sleep on the bank then. Well, we was twelve days on that barge, and we slept on the bank. We had the cookraft, you see, we landed the cookraft. Another crew moved that. They landed with no trouble, I guess.
SS: It took twelve days to get the sleepingraft?
WS: Yes. Sleep on the bank every night, and no blankets, but they builta big fire, oh, as long as from here to that house. Had two or three men cutting wood all day. Keep your feet warm. There was snow on the ground up there. Howard Bradbury was keeping time that spring. That was in '32. That was the year Roosevelt was elected, I think. Yeah, 1932, in the spring, it was.
SS: Well, that's a hell of a thing. Was something wrong with him or something, that he didn't ?
WS: Well, I never could figure it out. Nobody ever did. Everybody triedto, but he missed the landing, alright, and after that he didn't— oh, he had tried a couple of other times, but he didn't make much— I knew myself, he was going to miss them other ones. But the line broke, you see is what happened at Robison, the first landing, see. Broke the snubline, and lost a man off of the raft, you see. The guy that went ashore, he couldn't raft, he was there. Broke the line. However, that didn't make any difference, he could a got in someplace. The water wasn't too high, it was up pretty but hadn't had the big water yet, it still came after that. I never could figure out why he But he got relieved of his command as soon as that old push caught up him.
SS: Without the snubline, how would you stop it?
WS: Well, you'd have to improvise.
They had more line?
You could pretty much rig up another?
Oh, yes, sure. Anything. Well, there was places where you wouldn'tneed one, you could step off, you know. If you had you could get around something, you know and get stopped.
You were new so you didn't know where— what was going on too good.We was all new.
You guys were waiting for your orders.
Yeah. They was except, well, Old Bill Akins andthis Larkins, he was supposed to be the big shot. But, I don't know, he never made a success of it that I could see. But, that's the way it was. But after that they, well, — Oh, Bill Akins took 'em then and he run 'em for years.
Do you remember how long that first drive took?
By gosh, no, you see, it was split up, you know; changed pushes atBig Island and another push went down from there. Oh, you mean the first drive.
Yes. The very first one.
Oh, I don't remember at all. Lasted way into the summer. No machinery or nothing, and the water got away. The river was new to 'em. They got late water that year in June, but it didn't— it helped, of course, but it dropped right away again. We were down on them big bars in the main river, cranking them logs off a there by hand! Hot!! That's not very interesting.
These logs drives, I never did see one, myself. And up north there,of course, we never had any. The men working in the water on the logs; what was the techniques they used? What did they do to keep them logs moving? What did they have to do?
WS: Well, take like the river crew, they'd gang up around a log and rollit in the water, roll it in the river, that's all. That's all they could do. Just keep rolling it til it went afloat. Then there was another crew, more experienced— well, they weren't young men and they weren't old men, they were men around thirty-five, they were in the center crews. They would take the floating stuff, you know, you know like— they land on the center— like the center of the river and it's held there by something, you know, a rock, or something, and they'd pile up. They get to be real long. But you make space in the front; get slack in front, you see, that's the first thing you gotta do. It all depends on the water and general conditions. You get slack, and then it'll start to peel off, you see. Well, sometimes it'll go and sometimes it'll hang again and pile up more. That makes it bad. When it starts to go you hang on to it4as long as you can, you see, unless there's a shot or something in there. Then you've got to get the hell away from it.
WS: A Shot. You know, powder. A man to use powder, you see. But withthese motor boats, you could always come back. But you couldn't. You have to line 'em back. That took a different length of time, of course. Sometimes that was an awful job, depends on how fast the water was and how far down river you went, and you had to line it back. The crew would line it back up, up way above the center so you could land on it again. That's why they didn't use so much powder then. You had to get away from it when you put a shot in, you know. And they didn't want to leave it. They wanted to stay and pick on it until it unravelled, see. If they sure it was gonna go, they'd leave it. And, oftentimes they did, most of the time, after you got slack and started picking it a while they'd peel off, you know.
SS: When you say line 'em back up— would you explain that? What do youmean?
WS: Well, they all got what you call a painter on 'em, you know a ropein the bow, and it's a small rope 5/8's maybe. Well, the boatmen stay in and they'd pole, keep it off shore, and the rest of the crew would grab it and get ahold of that line on the bank and crawl along the bank and pull the Goddamn thing back up. Nobody likes to do that. That's why they hang on the center so long. They'd stay right on there, you know. They'd land in a place back pretty well from the front, you know. Get in between the logs, you see, so they could stay there until it went. Then they'd go. But I don't know, I've drove there three days and a half, one spring, that's as long as it took. And I've driven there a hundred days.
SS: How could you do it in two and a half days? What were the conditions?
WS: Well, the river's at Elk Creek. You know where that is?
WS: Well, that's where the river was, and that was in '48. And we stayedin town. We only had one boat. There was only four, five, six of us. Six, I think there was. But the water come up til, Lord God, you couldn't keep up to the rear, We had dinner at Ahsahka that day from Elk Creek, you can figure that out.Then out into the main river we went. The water was in the highway, you know. The water was right in the highway. Webb was the push that year. Young Webb, Bill Webb. That s old Webb s son. He worked on the pond there. And on a Sunday we finished up, we were at— I don't know, I think we left it at Lapwai, or something. - Three days and a half.
is he still alive?
Oh, yes. He was the push on that drive, a good push. He lives onThird someplace. I know where he lives, but I can't—
How old is he? Is he retired now? here-
Yes. He's retired. He was foreman on the pond there for years. Hewas— You going to be around tomorrow? No, I can't tomorrow. This lady that tends bar down here, she lives at— two houses from Profitt.
Where? At the Silver Dollar?
Yeah. In the morning. She's just there in the morning. Not tomor-row ming, but she s there on Tuesdays, Wednesdays—
I'll come back here another time and I'll find out.
I haven't seen Profitt but once since he left the woods. He runCamp Two, you know. Yeah, he's a real guy. I didn't think he was that old. I drove with him on the Coeur d'Alene River. Oh, Christ, I was just a young guy. He was, too, he isn't as old as I am. He's about sixty-six, I think.
What year was you born in?
1903. Seventy-two last April.
How much of the work when these guys were working on the river, onthe drive, on the logs? Standing right on the logs? Was that a rare thing? Or was that pretty often you did that?
Oh, depends on what you were doing, you were orsomething like that, you'd be working on timber all the time. But the rear crew, they weren't out on logs, unless they wanted to be. What I mean, once in a while they'd get in a slough or something and get to fooling around, but,no, there wasn't too much work on loose timber, except them centers. They get in a jam once in a while you'd get on the stuff, you know.
SS: Most of the time they worked from the batteau?
WS: Well, they'd be out of the batteau, of course, they wouldn't be inthe batteau. They'd be out working on the timber. But the batteau'd be there to pick 'em up, see, in case they went a drift, or you know, got hurt or got dinged up some way, you know, or anyway incapacitated, they'd pick 'em up. Unless they got scattered, that's one thing a didn't like, if they got scattered around, you know, too much. Like a center breaking up, and the crew gets scattered and they couldn't pick 'em all up. Maybe someone wasn't capable of handling himself, in that position, you know. Get excited and get out of hand like. But mostly they got along pretty good. lost about four men on this river. Oh, yeah, that's all.
SS: Did you ever see anybody go? Get lost?
WS: Well, yes, I see them three at Lenore that spring. We went to pick'em up but we were too late. We were just above 'em. They were on the right hand side of the river going down, just above the bridge. And there was trees there, there was half a dozen bull pine trees scattered around there, and the water was maybe six feet deep, but awful strong, you know. It was smooth, but running fast. Strong water, you couldn't commence to swim against it, or nothing like that you know. You couldn't row a boat against it. Well, there was a boat working just below us on one of these trees, you know, taking this timber off the tree, and when the center moved out, when they and everything else, why, course, it just picked up and left and there was a big sweeper, big steer, oh, like pulling a stump, pull tree lengths, stump and everything, you know. Underneath that you couldn't see it. And it come up under the boat, you know, and swamped the boat. It come up under the bow and the stern went down you know, and it just rolled her right around underneath. Well, these guys that drownded were in the boat. But there was four of 'em went up this tree.
Well, of course— I seen it. I was frosa hereto that house, I guess, upriver in the other boat, we was working on a little center there. Someone said, "They're going to swamp that boat." They seen it coming back, you know. So we all jumped in. The boatman hollered for us to jump in. There was only four of us, we had the forward boat, and we took after 'em, you see, we left the guys in the tree, we didn't stop for them at all, we could see one guy, his head just going under the bridge as we got as close as we could to him, and he disappeared. The water was high and awful dirty, you know. You couldn't see nothin', you know. So, I guess, I don't know we landed at Cottonwood Island. And there was some guy going down along the bank, he was in the water, too. His name was Chase. There was Fitting, Chase and Anderson. There was the names of the guys that drownded. This Anderson, his daughter works in the liquor store here, that little blonde. She's forty-two years old now. But anyway, we landed at Cottonwood Island on the highway side, and it was on a Sun day and oh, quite a bit of traffic. I got up there and stopped an old flatbed truck that come along, And we put the boat on it. It was a way longer than that old flatbed, but three or four of us sat in the bow of the bow and held it down and tied it on. And we had to come back up and put that boat in the water and land on that tree where them guys was. That was a tricky proposition, but we made her. pick ed 'em all off: the four of 'em. This Tom was one of 'em. He lives in Orofino now. He works for a construction outfit. He's sixty-three I think now. But he was one of the guys up the tree.
SS: What year was that?
WS: Forty-nine Because me and this gal over here in the liquor store, youknow, I get whiskey for the Silver Dollar you know. But anyhow, I used to talk to her, you know, she's a nice gal, said, "You knew my dad." That's when I first started getting whiskey there, three or four years ago. I said, "Yes, sure." But I didn't know who she was talking about. I was in the dark, I was going to wait to see if she'd volunteer some information, which she did right away, you know, she said,she was Walt Anderson's daughter. I knew Walt very well.
SS: So these three guys never had a chance, really?
WS: No, no, not after they got in the water, they didn't have no chance,no. Unless— the only chance they had if they had stayed with the boat. The boat didn't really swamp until it hit the pier, you know. It hit the bridge pier, and then it went under. We found that down Cottonwood Creek, washed up on a bar. But it was not serviceable anymore. But, I don't know, there was spare paddles in that boat and everything underneath the seat. I tied them in there myself when we started out. I had two paddles tied underneath. They was not in the way or nothin'. They could have grabbed one of them. Them boats they'll be just about ready to sink and they'll still pack three or four men, you know. But they could have done something if they'd a stayed with that boat. They could have stayed off a that pier; grabbed them pad dles, 'course, the oars and everything was gone. Oh, I don't know, excited, I guess.
SS: In a situation like that, you can really lose your
WS: They found 'em all but one. They found Chase and Anderson, but theynever found Fitting. His brother, this guy that drowned was Ray, and I can't think of the brother's name, but I know him real well, he was on the police force here. He was chief of detectives in Cheyenne at the time this happened. He come up, he and his wife, and he stayed here all summer. He went to work on the police force here then, and every Sunday they'd take a boat and go up to Lenore and put the boat in the river and she'd drive the car down and he'd go up every Sunday all summer long, and they never found him. I suppose he got sanded in, you know someplace and buried.
SS: When that kind of thing happened, death or a bad accident, was thereany protection for families?
WS: Oh, yes, oh, yes. You mean insurance?
SS: Yeah, from the company?
WS: Well, I don't know about the company. The State, I know pays. Themguys got around eight thousand dollars, I think is all, but we took up collections in the ftamp for them. We got damn near that much in the camp. After the drive was over, you know.
SS: Eight thousand bucks for the three of 'em?
WS: Yeah. But they got eight thousand apiece out of the State. They kindof hung off on Fitting for— maybe they haven't paid it yet, but they claim that in seven years, they gotta pay it. So I suppose that's paid now.
SS: That was pretty good, getting that much money. That sounds like a lotof money to come out of the camps.
WS: Oh, yeah, but them guys are all pretty easy in a case of that kind youknow. They got about that much for the three of 'em, you know. But it used to be customary — a collection taken up on a drive, you'd give a day's wages. Whatever the wages were— but, of course, I never paid any attention to that. I always hit her a little heavier. I'd spend it anyway, you know.
SS: What do you mean? A collection on the drive, if somebody was killed?
WS: Yes, or hurt, or sick, or something. They'd take up collections, youknow. It used to be way more so— they don't take up many collections in these camps anymore. But, when I was a young guy around here, every day, there was someo taking up a collection.
SS: If you'd give to every one of those, you wouldn't have any salary left.If you'd give a day's work every day.
WS: I know. But, I mean, it wasn't every day, but there'd be every coupleof months, or somewhere around that. But they was all worthy of it.
SS: You know, up North there, it seems like whenever the lumbering shutdown the men all went to Spokane. Was that the same here?
WS: Oh, yees. Yes. Until When they started up,Pierce was the town.Some guys never got by Pierce, for years, unless they come out the other way by Elk River. But I was in Pierce, I don't know, I musta been there twenty years, anyway, and I never got by there either. Everything there you wanted. Women, whiskey.
SS: That's pretty good. I didn't know there was any small towns that hadthat. I thought you had to go to a big city.
WS: Oh, no, Pierce always had 'em. They haven't now, but, there was alwayssomething like that there. I don't think there's any there now.
SS: There was a lot of lodging then, too? Lots of places for the 'jacksto stay? The houses, I imagine were places that the 'jacks could stay.
WS: Well, when I first went there— Have you been at Pierce lately?
WS: Well, you know where the Clearwater Hotel is? There was a big tentthere when I first landed there. There was I don't know how many men— The railroad was up at JP then, as far as JP, it wasn't into Headquar ters yet. But, I don't know, there must have been three thousand men around there. I don't know how many, they was coming and going, you know. And they had all kind of camps along the railroad; the railroad company, you know. Building that railroad up there. But that's where it was when I went up there at JP, didn't take 'em long to shoot in to Headquarters from there. But that old Clearwater Hotel was a big tent, and them army cots to sleep on. No floor in the bottom at all, just on the ground. I don't know what they charged; a dollar, I guess to sleep on one of 'em. I forget who built that. Old Chris Johnson built that Clearwater Hotel. Then old Snyder he built the Pierce Hotel, That was after that, too. There was just one old shack there, he was bootlegging there, and he just built on around it and he made a hotel out of it. It's still there. No! it burnt down. There's a bank there, by gosh.
SS: Were there many of the whorehouses there?
WS: Oh, yes. There was always about three. Four or five gals in eachone. And the last year or so it got down to two and then one. The Pierce Hotel, that was always one. That is, after it changed hands, The Hotel, that was always— It isn't no more.
SS: In Bovill—
WS: There was never any there, was they?
SS: Yeah, there was, but they were gone by the time you came here. Theywere gone by about 1915, or something like that. I understand Clarkia stayed pretty wide open—
WS: Oh, Clarkia was— was hell, bing-bang. Everything. Same as Pierce.
SS: It was never so big, though, was it, as far as—?
WS: Oh, no. no, no. Well, they used to go in that way, you know, on thatdrive. Used to go in from Clarkia, you'd think that they was comin' out that way, the way they'd perform, you know.
SS: You talking about Marble Creek?
WS: Yeah. But they never come out that way. See, Marble Creek run inat the St. Joe below Avery. It's Marble Creek station, is what it is. That's where it runs in there. But you'd think they was comin' out that way, the way the bootleggers treated 'em. Give 'em everything they wanted. Gals and jugs and corks. And the girls were very free with their wares, tool (Chuckles)
SS: Well, what were they doing on Marble Creek? The logging there on Marble Creek— what kind of thing did they have going there? Didn't they have an incline there?
WS: Yeah, they had an incline coming down to the main line of the Milwaukee.Yeah. Did you ever see that thing?
SS: Uh-huh. Just hear about it.
WS: Well, that was quite a rig. That was a double track layout. Emptiescome up and the loads went down. No, it wasn't double track, they had an automatic switch, that was it. I've rode up on it. They had a donkey sitting on the top. A big donkey, I don't know, a big— or fifteen, and they used to drop them cars down.
SS: Must have been steep.
WS: It was 57 percent in one place. That's just exactly what it was, because I asked old whats-his-name, the first time I went in there. I asked him how steep that place was. He said fifty-seven percent, and I thought he was lyin' to me. That was Bill Gaffney. he was the sup erintendent then. I thought he was lyin' to me. I didn't say anything but I asked several others; all said fifty-seven percent. I guess it was.
SS: Did they flume in there, too, before they had
WS: They used chutes.
SS: Yeah, that's right.
WS: They shot 'em to the railroad, you know. Put 'em on skids and loaded'em out.
SS: Was there some kind of a fire there that they built an incline?
WS: A fire?
SS: Yeah. Was there some kind of a— can't remember what I heard now.I heard something about—
WS: Oh, there was a fire in 1910.
SS: Yeah, I heard about that one, yeah.
WS: The whole State of Idaho was burning then. They didn't try to put itout! I know they didn't. They couldn't. They had no way to get to it. But, I don't know of any fire there lately. Well, let's see, that was the Rutledge Timber Company, yeah. And then the Potlatch took it over. They didn't do much there. By gosh, they truck there now. They landed right in Clarkia, yes. When I worked up there, there was several different creeks- Hobo Creek, JG Creek. I don't know how many. I worked there at Hobo for a guy Em Up George, they called him.
SS: I've heard of that name.
WS: You have, eh?
SS: Sure. Well, what was he like?
WS: Oh, boy, there was never nothing like him. He was a divil, that fella!He got killed down in Oregon. I knew him real well. I knew the whole family. He had two boys and a girl and his wife. Yeah, he gyppoed for himself on Marble, that's when I first caught up to him. He went broke there. He had pretty fair outfit; fourteen teams of horses. All the riggin' to go with 'em, you know. Then he went to work for the Diamond, And he worked there for years, running camp. But I guess they didn't like his style, or something, because they dumped him, anyway. But he had quite a bit of money, you know. He owned a dandy home in Spokane. He lost everything. He went for the racehorse, you know. He bought a saloon, he run that and he was making money hand over fist, but he bought three old plugs and he started running 'em around and following em around from Seattle to Portland and Tacoma, First thing, you know he was on the rocks and had to go back to word in the woods. He could n't work himself, he was too old then to work. But then everything had changed. He never changed with conditions, you know at all. Never did. I know when 'dozers first come out, the Diamond bought 'dozers, he wouldn't use 'em. He'd skid them logs a hundred miles instead of building a truck road, and the 'dozers sitting in the camp yard. That didn't pay. I think that's one reason why—
SS: This Wood 'Em Up, I heard he got that name because he was always trying to get one more log on there. Is that true?
WS: Yeah, that's it. Wood 'Em Up. And he was— he liked notoriety. Hewas an awful man to fire men, you know. I've seen him fire thirty men one morning. Thirty! There was them labor agencies in Spokane. Van Camp and Featherstone,^but he kept them busy.
SS: What did he fire 'em for? No reason?
WS: No. no. Hire 'em back the next day. No, he'd just get mad and startcannin' 'em. He'd can one, he might have a reason for canning the first one, but if you happened to come along right after that, you was gone, too. I was working for him five months and never got canned. I never did get canned. He never did can me. I,don't know why. If I thought it was coming, Id quit, you see! (Chuckles) he was a good guy, you could always go along and stay over night in his camp and sleep and eat. He might come in and tell you, "Nothin' doing to day, stick around for a day or two." Or something like that, you know. Yeah, he had a lot of good points. One of his boys is a contract or, now, you know. Yarno and Company. Yarno is his name, Y-A-R-N-O. But he is, an oh, a construction contractor. He built them sewers in Weippe, I know that, i haven't seen him since.
SS: You know, talking about this guy, or you know, staying overnight tofind out if there's work. I've heard— One guy was telling me about these camp inspectors. Was there any guys that went around to campsto try them all out?
WS: Oh, yes, sure. Why, you see around Bovill, I've met thirty men betweenCamp 7 and Bovill, on the railroad track. They never said nothin'. They had to set up extra tables for 'em, them guys, sometimes. I never did go that route. I'd go to a camp, you know what I mean, when I was lookin' for work, that was customary then. You'd go into camp and if the push wanted you, he'd come around and tell ya. And if he didn't, why, he'd come and tell ya anyway. That was alright, then you could go. Or go to work, one or the other. I usually went to work. I don't know, I was pretty lucky. I knew a lot of 'em, you know. Andaa lot of the crew, you see, the crew would put a plug in for you once in a while. Like over on the Bovill side here— like Sturgils you know. I guess he's living yet.
SS: Oscar Sturgill? He died, recently.
SS: Yeah. He's been dead, just this year. Recently.
WS: He always had tramps working for him. Tramp lumberjacks. And he always had the best horses. And if a guy come along, you know, there'd be some guy in the crew, of course, maybe you might know half of the crew, but there'd always be someone that'd whisper to old Oscar, "There's a pretty fair hand. And put him on you know, and then, you'd go to work. If he didn't know you, you know. That's the way that worked.
SS: When you say tramp lumberjacks— you mean the lumberjack that went aroundto a lot of different places and didn't stay in one camp?
WS: Well, yes, he stayed sometimes; sometimes he didn't. It all dependson, as I say, conditions, and sometimes they'd be real bad, but you'd stay anyway. I don't know what the hell the reason was.
SS: When you're saying tramp— figure there's a difference between atramp lumberjack and what— in a family man?
WS: Well, yes, sure there is. The family man, he does stay. He's anchored to his job. The other guy he's just a kind of tramp, see. I don't mean he's a bum or nothing. Just a tramp, is all. Likes to keep mov ing. To see how they do things other places, or something like that. Well, you ought to go up and see this profit. He's a nice guy to talk to. He's amarried man, he's got-
SS: Was he on any of them early drives on the Clearwater River?
WS: First one.
SS: Was he? And he got so he'd run 'em?
WS: Yeah. Yeah, he run that drive— he must have taken it out seven oreight times, anyway. That was before the war, he started in. He run camp first. Then he took the drive. You see, this Boots— Did you ever hear of him?
SS: I don't know. What's his name?
WS: His name was Edelblute. He used to live in town here. He was married.He married Howard Bradbury's sister. Well, he took this drive after Old Brooks died. That was in '38— Old Brooks died. Well, he took it he finished it that spring and drove from then on until— I don't know— just before the war. And he got killed, in a windstorm. He was a superintendent then. But there wouldn't be much doing in the spring and he'd take that drive down. He liked that kind of work, you know. And a hell of a good man. He was from that Rathdrum, Coeur d'Alene country. Profitts, they grew up together. But there was a windstorm, you know, and he was in his pickup, and in stead of parking some place, he just kept a driving, you know and the wind a big snag over and just crushed him. Fell across the cab, just flattened everything. I was in Camp X. They worked on him all night. Doctors come in there, two doctors come in there. They come in there in a place— they come to Elk River in a plane. They brought him in there in a truck or something, I don't know.
SS: Well, I'll get going. What time you got?
(tape turned off for a while at this point)
WS: I believe they're all I don't know of a single one.
SS: I figured there must be some old-timers in Spokane someplace.
WS: They're awful scattered. I know of one, that's all now. 'Cause Ihear from there every week. There's some guys go through here that's working up in camp. One of 'em. He goes to Spokane. I don't know what the hell, he plays the horses, too, that's what he goes there for. Harry, Harry the Horse, they call him. But he tells me about some people in Spokane.
SS: Guys that he knew from the old days?
WS: Well, he knows 'em. Not from the old days, but he knows 'em. FromSpokane. The only place I ever seen him work was in, I never did see him anyplace else.
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Segment Synopsis: The IWW's accomplished wonders with direct action. The strike in 1923 was for the prisoners in jail; the 1936 strike for better conditions, which were improved after they broke the strike. Democracy of IWW made it much better than the CIO. IWW's strike for better conditions, not money. They were revolutionary and are dead.
12:00 - Lumberjacks are single; the work was all done by hand; lumberjacks were mostly older and came from the east
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22:00 - Being able to read in camps but missed following baseball; working on strips; and fixed rates for certain people
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54:00 - First Clearwater river log drives; construction of early wanigans; Gust Piper took the first drives; Silent Joe trapped on the North Fork
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Segment Synopsis: First Clearwater River log drives. Construction of early wanigans - cedar timbers, vine maple binders. Gust Piper was a log "pirate" who took rafts down to the Snake; he took the first drives because he knew the whole river. Silent Joe trapped on the North Fork in different cabins and rarely spoke.
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