Heritage \ Writings \ Industry: Lumbering

A Pine Tree's Lament
1887 article printed in the Bay City Tribune.

Contributed by Alan Flood (Jan., 2004)

Bay City Tribune: Special Edition, November 1887.

A PINE TREE'S LAMENT.

FROM FOREST TO SAW MILL.
THE STORY OF ITS BLIGHTED LIFE,
THE ONSLAUGHT OF THE WOODSMAN
AND THE LOSS OF ITS IDENTITY.
-----------------

I AM the monarch of the forest. My proud head far overtops my smaller, yet ambitious, companions. In vain do they wish to become my equal. With dismay do they realize their inability so to do, for I am the giant: they the pigmies. 'Neath my branches may they take refuge from the impending storm, but to become as great and majestic as I, never. Fortunate is it they are small. Little do they realize the terrible fate that awaits such as I. Were I of the pigmy family I would be passed over in silence, to remain in the enjoyment of the rest of my days. But great beings like myself are never allowed to die from natural causes, nay, we are plucked like the budding rose in the bloom of youth.

The winds of a hundred winters have whistled through my branches. On and on might I live but for the relentless, unceasing ravages of the woodsmen's army. My time will soon come. The progress of the so-called civilization demands my downfall. And then my present envious fellows may have the satisfaction of seeing my life ebb.

I can foresee my fate. In the autumn the army of woodsmen will invade the quiet of the forest and with their glistening axes begin chopping at my very base. My thick coating of bark that protects my body during the chilling arctic blasts is no impediment to the sharp blades of steel. My body is penetrated after a succession of powerful blows, and a few strokes of the cross-cut saw complete the mischief. I totter, tremble and then fall with a creaking crashing noise ending in a heavy thud that thunderingly echoes through the forest. I am down, and at the mercy of those who so ruthlessly ended my existence. They pounce upon me as a wild beast upon a new-born fawn. At their mercy as I am, they stand upon me and gloat over their superior prowess. In my fall my branches bring neighboring trees to the ground as well, and with these in my grasp I had hoped to strike my destroyers, but their agility and foresight kept them out of reach.

Standing on either side of my prostrate form, these knights of the axe and saw measure my body into various lengths and as if to make their destruction of my life more complete, they saw through my side until my limbs are severed and my body cut into as many lengths as they deem fit. The top that once towered above the forest is left to an ignominious ending. Each of the several portions of my body are inspected and then the bark from a portion of one side is hewn off to fall upon the ground and be trampled underfoot.

Then a sleigh with a team of horses or oxen attached comes along. On to this vehicle am I bolted with a ponderous chain and in an instant, at the crack of the black snake, I am dragged out into a road that leads to what is technically known as a skidway. This, I find, is composed of two logs laid parallel and about eleven feet apart. On these I am lifted and rolled, to remain until winter when the ground is covered with a coating of snow and ice.

It may be that there is a winding river in the neighborhood, and if this be so I am deposited upon its banks and rolled with hundreds of others of my fallen braves to remain until the rush of waters in the spring carry me on their bosom to the mouth, there only to be imprisoned in a boom, to await the time when my captors desire to drag me o'er the blue waters of the bay to the busy metropolis.

It is now the usual proceeding--indeed quite the proper caper-- to have the aforesaid skidway at a cut on some great railroad. In this case I am rolled along and deposited upon a platform car with innumerable others of my species. A few puffs of the iron horse and I am whirled along at breakneck speed up grades, around curves, through villages and finally reach the city, where from a high trestle I am unceremoniously dumped into the black waters below. My buoyancy keeps me afloat. A man with a long pole, in which is a sharp prod and hook, catches me and drags me along to a large establishment on the river bank, from which issues a buzzing sound suggestive of a beehive.

A succession of jerks and pulls by a man with one of those long poles brings me in front of the large building, facing an inclined plane sluiceway in which an endless chain is moving. Without warning, my head is punctured by a sharp-pointed link of the chain, and a moment later I am being forcibly dragged up the sluice into the beehive, where I reach a level again. Then two spiteful ugly-looking, heavy sticks of wood rounded on top and having several sharp pieces of iron on the side, suddenly spring out of their hiding places in the floor, strike me a terrific blow on the side and send me rolling in the opposite direction. I roll until I drop upon a vehicle composed mostly of iron, called the carriage. Two men on board of it clinch me with a series of teeth and hold me so I cannot get away. A signal is given, the carriage begins to move and in an instant a saw is burying itself into my body. This operation is repeated a few times and I have lost my identity. I am no longer a tree, but merely a square shaped piece of timber known as a "cant."

Subject Notes

Related Pages:
{Lumbering Pictorial}
People Referenced
None.
Subjects Referenced
Axe
Black snake
Cant
Carraige
Chain
Cross-cut saw
Horses
Oxen
Platfrom car
Railroad
Saw
Skidway
Sleigh
Sluice
Related References
None at this time.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.