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Pictorial Library \

Lumbering Heritage

It may be hard to for some to image for that the Saginaw Valley was onced covered with dense forests of white pine, elm, oak, and other tree species. They disappear quickly after the lumbering boom began here in the 1860s. The forests closest to the rivers were the first to fall to the axes and saws of lumberjacks and leaving behond vast open fields of tree stumps. Evenually the stumps were laboriously removed by immigrant farmers who understood the significance of the valley's rich soil bed for farming.

At the peak of the lumbering boom in the valley, most every river bank had several sawmills where lumberjacks floated their logs to. Logs were even brought in by barge from points north to the large mills along the Saginaw River, which had the largest concentration of mills and a deep water port for shipping wood products to other parts of the country.

As the lumberjacks cleared the forests closest to the river they were forced further inland and the task of haul lumber skids to the river became more difficult. This problem was resolved with the introduction of the iron horse. Train tracks were built from the forests directly to the mills. These powerful steam belly giants industrialized the transportation process, they were also a cause of concern for fires started by their smoke stacks that bellow hot ash and cinders sparking a forest fire or setting a lumberyard a blaze.

Lumbering was the primary stimulus for the rapid growth of the vallye's population. It created thousands of jobs and many new businesses as a result. Wood manufacturing products included construction boards, roof shingles, boxes, barrel, staves, and planks for side walks or roads. The available of milled wood and a deep river also gave birth to the early shipbuilding industry. The Wheeler and Davidson shipards that build wood schooners powered by sail or steam engines were among the best known shipbuilders of their time period.

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  • Related Resources
    Bay-Journal Pages:
    Davidson Shipbuilding
    Sage & McGraw Sawmill
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