When Loggers Meet…

by Katy Tahja, April 12, 2017

Last month the 79th annual Redwood Region Logging Conference (RRLC) in Eureka was attended by thousands of folks of all ages celebrating everything related to logging on the North Coast. The show had everything you’d expect…historical exhibits and equipment from the Timber Heritage Association, Roots of Motive Power, Early Day Gas Engine & Tractor Association, sawmill demonstrations and log truck loading competitions. There was chainsaw carving, wildlife shows, ax throwing contests, lots of shiny new log trucks, lumberjack and jill skill shows, exhibit halls and fun for the whole family.

The educational activities focus a lot nowadays on forest land stewardship and sustainability. The forestry professionals want the grammar school kids, the high school pupils and the university students to know there will be careers in forestry in the future. Scholarships for the study of forestry were awarded. Current loggers could take workshops on CHP Safety updates, Forestry Regulations, Employee Safety, Water Drafting and 1st Aid/CPR.

Gallery Bookshop of Mendocino attends the conference yearly selling displays of books on logging history, what lives and grows in forests and the people who protect and preserve them. This year one single book stood out as the bestseller in sales and what was more amazing was that it was the single most expensive book offered for sale.

“High Climbers & Tree Fallers: from Old Growth Logging to Second Growth Management” by Gerry Beranek is a $50 hardcover coffee table book on men logging and the pride they took in their work. If you ever needed proof that taking your camera to work with you every day is a good idea this book affirms it. The book is 12 years old and continues to fascinate readers because it is almost 300 pages of BIG color photos.

The author takes you to 25 old growth logging operations to see how the work was done, with pride, and nine second growth shows. Reading it is a modern day educational experience on timber operations.

What’s great about the book is Beranek identifies every person in every photo, right down to the dog on the landing. People came to my booth saying “My dad is on page 15” or “My Grandpa is on page 68.” While browsers also bought books of old black & white logging photos the best seller was “High Climbers & Tree Fallers.” Beranek has gone on to write more big coffee table books on national and state parks on the North Coast and his book “Coast Redwoods” has every weird unusual ways a redwood tree could choose to grow. All his books are available at Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino.

The book discovery at RRLC was a self-published book on a very narrow aspect of the timber operations. “Loggin’ Riggin’: a handbook on Cable Systems” by John Porritt in Hayfork CA is a labor of love. Porritt has worked with, watched and talked to people in the USA, Russia, Japan, Norway, Pakistan, Canada and Great Britain who do cable rigging for logging. He assumes the reader has some basic knowledge of logging operations, (he’s not going to tell you how they notch a stump…) but his hand drawn illustrations are great.

Having been married to a man who ran a yarder in the woods for a good many years I understand a little about the stress in rigging and the forces involved in lifting tree trunks in the air with cables and landing them where you want them to go. Chocker setting, rigging skylines, designing layouts and other assorted logging skills are discussed in detail. I was fascinated on the section about balloon logging, with rigging attached to a very big stationary balloon. I also learned your can have your power source on a barge in a river tethered to the shore and rig it to a spar pole on a hilltop. Logging in Alaska and Scotland provide different challenges to how it is done in the Redwood forest.

If readers have a logging history book collection this is a worthy addition to their bookshelf. It’s available from the author John Proffitt at P.O. Box 1044 Hayfork CA 96041 or call him at 530-739-3285.

One Response to When Loggers Meet…

  1. Rosalie Virtue Reply

    April 13, 2017 at 6:33 am

    Thanks for the info on the Proffitt book. It brought back memories of my Dad who was a logger and had the rigging skills needed in the shipyards during WWII. He left Fort Bragg and went to work at Mare Island, Vallejo, CA. I once asked him why he hadn’t joined the army like my uncles and cousins had. “I was too young for WWI and too old for WWII so I did my part at Mare Island.” Once the war ended he moved our family back to Fort Bragg and continued working in the logging industry. Again, thanks for the memory.

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