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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