V. Classroom Exercises

1. Have students use the documents to imagine what working in a logging operation must have been like. Using The Glossary of Logging Terms, D. D. Strite, How to Become a Logger: A Complete Treatise in Six Lessons, and The Whistle Signal Code as sources, have them adopt various roles—for example, high rigger, choker-setter, chaser, or whistlepunk—and write letters home describing what they do and the dangers involved.

2. Ask students to describe the different ways cut timber was transported to lumber mills. Ask them to consider the advantages, disadvantages, and limitations of each.

3. Ask students to describe groundlead and high-lead yarding. Have them describe how geography may have affected the how each was developed and used. Take them outside and ask them to decide which method would work best if they wanted to log their neighborhood (they may need to imagine that it is filled with large trees).

4. Logging has always been a dangerous business and the introduction of steam-powered mechanization increased the hazards exponentially. One historian estimates that, by the early part of the 20th century, the typical professional logger had a one in three chance of being killed on the job. Have the students read the excerpt from D. D. Strite’s, How to Become a Logger: A Complete Treatise in Six Lessons. You may want to consider explaining to them that while Strite was writing in a humorous vein, he is describing what it was like for a novice logger working in a high-lead logging operation. Ask them to describe to potential hazards Strite discusses. What seems to be the author’s attitude toward the dangers?

5. Before the use of radios became common, loggers used a variety of whistle signals to pass information and instructions across the distant points of a worksite. In this exercise, designate one student as a “whistlepunk” and provide that student with a whistle. Using the signals adopted by the Pacific Logging Congress in 1930, ask the whistlepunk to pass instructions to the “crew” (the other students). How well were the instructions communicated? Were there any mistakes? Who made them? Could those mistakes had led to accidents? You may want to point out that whistlepunks were often the youngest (sometimes 16) and least experienced worker at a worksite.

6. If the resources are available, acquire a collection of small pulleys and suitable lengths of cord and ask your students, either working in one large group, or several smaller groups, to rig a groundlead operation (use cut broomsticks, small pieces of firewood, or scrap lumber as logs) in the classroom or the schoolyard. Consider assigning roles—for example, one student could be designated as the “donkey puncher” and be responsible for pulling the lines in and out. If a sturdy post (like a tetherball pole or a post holding up a walkway) is available, consider setting up a simple model of high-lead operation (but be aware you may end up with “flying” pieces of wood). In both exercises the diagrams in the Young Iron Works catalog may be helpful in guiding the projects. Once it is in operation, ask your students to evaluate it. How “complex” is the technology? What are the key components? How could they improve it?

7. Any resource extraction—whether it is timber, oil, gold or something else—is driven by the difference between the price that resource can command in the marketplace and the cost of extracting it from the environment. High prices and low costs typically promote extraction. New technology often both lowers costs and increases the ability to extract resources that were previously unprofitable. Ask students to describe the kinds of technological changes that made logging on the Olympic Peninsula increasingly attractive to profit-minded businesses in the early part of the 20th century. Ask them to think about technology broadly, including things we might term “infrastructure”—like transportation systems. Can they identify other factors that promoted logging in the region?

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Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest