Logging Camp J In the 1920’s in Northern Wisconsin

Two hungry and tired boys from the long weary trip from their home through the deep snows of Northern Wisconsin, breathed a sigh of relief as they approached the warm and most comfortable kitchen of the Great Logging Company camp J. The six mile trip had been made, the fresh fallen snow had berried all emaginations of the way, but knowing the route so well from the many trips made during lesser snows, the Boys, Robert and Wayne had least trouble finding their way.

The strong smell of wood smoke filled their nostrils as they came closer, and the smoke from the stove pipe in that wonderful kitchen drifted upward and away through the virgin timber that surounded the complete camp sight.

Robert, the eldest of the two said, “Boy, I’m so darn hungry I could eat a dead horse!”

Wayne answered quite slowly, “Well, hungry too but I doubt I am hungry enough to tackel a dead horse!”

Then they both laughed, as they made way to the camp’s kitchen.

The two boys were always dressed clean, and as their Mother was the most particular person in the world about cleanliness. The part of Godliness was seldom mentioned in those days. Although the boys didn’t have the most effective clothes to wear, they were always clean, you may be sure of that. Also their necks and ears had to be surely scrubbed before making the trip. No one was ever going to make the remark that her kids went any where dirty.

They stomped the snow from their boots and entered the kitchen. Old Martin, the second cook greeted them with a broad smile, and a few kindly words. He was a medium sized man, probably fifty years old at the time. He wore a grey mustache neatly trimmed. A most understanding fellow, who seemed to take a liking to my brother and me. He was quick to see that our little hungry bellies were properly filled with cookies, pies, and cold cuts of different kinds of meat. He filled our big tin cups with all the coffee we could manage to hold. I’ll never forget that person, I never found out what his last name was, we just called him Martin!

Visits to Camp “J” were made frequently through the winter, as this was where the mail was delivered to, from any and all points, to the people of Taylor Rapids. That was as near to the residence of that community as mail could be delivered, unless it would be picked up at the small town of Goodman, the nearest Post Office, ten miles away.

Camp “J” was situated in the midst of a great forest of virgin timber, loggers from all parts of the state came there to work in this fine woods. Sweedes, Polocks, Russians, Frenchman, almost every breed that could be named, worked there. Many of these men never left camp all winter long. Dozzens of beautiful teams of horses were used to bring the timber that was cut to the railroad where it could be moved to the Company Mill for further finishing into lumber Pulp, Post, Poles, etc., Many Railroad ties were also produced at this fine camp.

One of the most efficient, and perfect [rail] Tie Makers, was an older Brother “Lloyd” who was indeed the envy of many of the old timers in that profession.

Most Recent Articles by Robert F. Knapp (1913-1994)

Robert F. Knapp (1913-1994)

About Robert F. Knapp (1913-1994)

Robert F. Knapp was born Wausaukee, Wisconsin, in 1913, and moved with his family to the Pacific Northwest in the 1930s. His father, James Asa Knapp Jr., worked in the logging camps and rarely spent much time with his eight children. Eventually, James and the children's mother, Emma Beatrice Primley, divorced and Emma packed up the family and headed west. Robert grew up working odd jobs in logging camps, railroad camps, on farms, and taking what work could come his way until finding steady work and a home with his wife, Evelyn, in Monroe and Lake Stevens, Washington. He had four children and many grandchildren. Robert left behind a legacy of stories and poems written for a creative writing class throughout 1960-1980, writing of life growing up in Northern Wisconsin and the struggles to find work with a huge family to support through the Depression. Permission to reprint this has been graciously granted by the family of Robert F. Knapp with the hope that you will enjoy reading about the life and times of this amazing man.
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12 Responses to Logging Camp J In the 1920’s in Northern Wisconsin

  1. Pingback: Family History » Find Your Ancestor’s Post Offices

  2. My Father was a Logger in northern Wisconsin, About 1916 to 1927 He was gone for long periods of time . I remember a song (I was about4 or 5 years old) \It went like this……. Im going to write to Daddy and oh how glad he’ll be… – to get a little letter ,that was written all by me — I’ll send him lots of kisses,and one bright shiney curl ,– — And tell him to Remember his own dear little girl.!
    I have old photographs of him and his budies,and horses etc. … of that time . Will send them if you are interested.

  3. @Zella Billington:

    I appreciate that. Do you know exactly where in northern Wisconsin? And I’d recommend that you contact the Marriette County Logging Museum and provide them with good quality copies as they have one of the best museums on the subject and need financial and material support for their collections.

  4. art mattson says:

    Where would I find the history of logging in northern wisconsin along the lake superior region and upper michigan. I have read the “EARLY LOGGERS IN MINNESOTA” by J.C. Ryan which was excellant information.

  5. Norm Okerstrom says:

    I am a great-grandson of T.N. Okerstrom who is credited with founding the town of Port Wing, Wisconsin. TN operated 12 logging camps, a sawmill and was instrumental in surveying and helped to build the town. We have quite a bit of family history if you are interested or are connected to the Flagg River/Port Wing area.

    • Norm Okerstrom says:

      Hi Brody,
      The local history museum in Port Wing has quite a bit of info on logging operations including an old log mark, used to identify logs from Okerstrom’s camps. You can also read books written by Helga Skogsburg who wrote about pioneer times in and around the Port Wing, WI area. Many of the characters in her books were actual people who she knew and/or heard stories about. Good luck! My family used to own the beach in Port Wing but sold it to the State of Wisconsin for preservation.

    • Ruth Blewett says:

      Norm, I am a great-grandaughter of Anna Okerstrom LeVine, TN’s older sister and also have lots of family history I would love to share, including the family tree from Nils and Ingrid on down. Blessings to you and our extended family. Ruth Blewett

      • I have a contact page, which is where all emails should go. Please, NEVER put your email on a web page in a comment or otherwise. I’ve edited your comment to remove it and protect you. Please be careful.

        I can’t find the names you mention in my family tree. Were they in Taylor Rapids, Wisconsin? I don’t know who TN is, but I’d love to share if we have family in common. Thanks.

  6. art reynolds says:

    I came across your information on the internet as I am currently researching early logging history, especially in the Pacific NW. Occasionally I write articles of interest for our local newspaper, The Chronicle. I’m preparing an article on NW logging. Logging has always interested me. Watching my dad fall timber facinated me and he taught me the tricks of the trade which served me well through 25 years of falling timber & as a cutting contractor in the NW. As early as the mid-‘1950’s’ environmentalists intervened in timber harvesting & by 1990 they succeeded in shutting down most logging activities in the NW. We are trying to get our loggers back in the woods through a revised ‘Salvage Logging’ program, however our pleas seem to be falling on deaf ears for the time being. Does this issue exist in your area?
    Art Reynolds

  7. Melora Cumberland says:

    I worked at the Pioneer Park Historical Complex in Rhinelander, Wisconsin this past summer. The museum features a complete authentic Logging Camp with much of the big machinery/transportation used, a Narrow Gage railroad train and depot, a CCC building and display, an original one-room school and artifacts, and a retired sawmill. I have been told by several historians and a documentary film writer that our museum is one of the most complete logging displays in the state and probably the country. Admission is free but donations are accepted and used for the restoration of the exhibits. The museum is open daily Memorial Day-Labor Day form 10a.m.-5p.m.

  8. Ron Petit says:

    I am president of The Friends of the Tuscobia Trail, a small DNR affiliated 501 c 3 nonprofit in Winter, Wisconsin. We are presently restoring a 1905 Omaha Road railroad depot and are very interested in networking with folks interested in logging, railroading and settling of this area in NW Wisconsin at the turn of the previous century. We will be restoring the depot to house the Winter Area Chamber of Commerce Welcoming Center and historical display. We hope to display early logging, railroading and settling pictures of this era along with relevant oral histories we can collect. This was the area where the John Deitz incident occured in 1910 or so. Anyone with information, pictures or memories of this rail line (Called the Park Falls Line of the Omaha and later the Chicago Northwestern) feel free to contact me. Ron Petit, c/o Friends of the Tuscobia Trail, Box 24, Winter, WI.

    • Mark Grubb says:

      hi,at one time we had a hunting camp on the thornapple river several miles downstream of the cameron dam, I do have a small collection of logging artifacts from that area , if you would be interested in giving thema good home

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