1930's Shackers in the U.P.

Discussion in 'Homesteading' started by RavenLoon, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. RavenLoon

    RavenLoon axology student Supporter

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    I thought this was an interesting series of pictures:

    By Emily Bingham | ebingham@mlive.com




    IRON COUNTY, MICH. -- The weather was typical for late March in Michigan's western Upper Peninsula -- signs of spring but still plenty of snow -- when photographer Russell Lee rolled into Iron County, camera in hand, in 1937.

    Employed by the Farm Security Administration, an agency created under Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal to fight rural poverty, Lee had been sent to the U.P. on assignment: To document the lives and landscapes in the "cut-over" parts of Michigan and Wisconsin, where the region's rich pine forests had been demolished by logging.

    https://www.mlive.com/expo/life-and...0cfa6a245/historic-photos-reveal-realiti.html
     
  2. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks.

    Looks like a rough life. And it always makes me kinda sad, seeing and thinking about what we did to all the old growth forests.
     
  3. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I think that one photo shows a young @gohammergo playing a fiddle and wearing a Kromer.
     
  4. Portage_Monster

    Portage_Monster Scout

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    I forget which Hemingway story it's in, but I remember him describing a hemlock forest in Michigan that was logged bare and then the logs were left to rot after the bark had been stripped from them.

    The family story goes that my grandpa was born in a shack like those in the pictures on the side of the Duluth South Shore and Atlantic RR line in the UP in the 20's. I can't imagine what it would have been like growing up like that...
     
  5. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Most people today who go through that area have no idea that area was logged almost flat...as was a lot of the U.P. and northern WI. As a whole, the forests are back and stronger than even IMO. The Ottawa National Forest near me is getting too old IMO and should be logged more (which seems to be happening now)....old growth forest are sterile forests, and not many critters call those places home.
     
  6. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    An interesting perspective.

    Did you see @tristndad 's thread on The Hidden Life of Trees? Listening to that now. A very different perspective than yours. I find it fascinating.
     
  7. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    No, I'll check it out. Thanks!
     
  8. Portage_Monster

    Portage_Monster Scout

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    If anyone is looking for a good read about the history of forestry in the north country, I'd highly recommend giving The Forest For The Trees https://shop.mnhs.org/products/forest-for-the-trees a read. It's primarily about the Winton Watershed by Ely (and Winton), MN but the history and the story was played out almost the same across WI and the UP as well. People forget that northern MN was pretty much raped for it's white pine in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Even places like the BWCA that folks think are untouched didn't escape the lumberjacks saw.
     
  9. LAKE CLARK

    LAKE CLARK Tracker

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    I think people would be surprised that a fair amount of us still live like that in Alaska.
     
  10. RavenLoon

    RavenLoon axology student Supporter

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    I've known a few old bachelors and even families living like that in the UP, although they usually own the land now and have lots more motorized equipment. Not squatters as some were in the pictures.
     
  11. Riverpirate

    Riverpirate Supporter Supporter

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    18D81A6A-0B48-4532-8FB1-E91C396B7F3E.jpeg Same thing for Georgia. Most of Georgia is covered in trees, mostly pine these days. I occasionally hear some tree hugger taking about us destroying old growth here in Georgia and I just laugh. But before the Civil war and shortly after, if you even saw a tree it was in somebody's yard. We have no old growth in Georgia. Some in the mountains might be older but even most of those were cut. I have an old oak in the back yard at the farm that is probably one of the oldest trees in Georgia. It is not much longer for this world though. The Live Oak on the right in the picture was probably there before the House was built in 1840.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
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  12. 66drifter

    66drifter Guide

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    that was during The Great Depression and those conditions there weren't all that different than conditions all across our country

    the photos are wonderful and they do tell a lot about the way our citizens managed to endure that era

    many viewing this thread on electronic devices don't realize the Rural Electrification Act wasn't enacted until 1936 and that the vast majority of rural inhabitants didn't get electricity until many years after that

    gainful employment during that time was scarce everywhere and the folks depicted were really doing quite well relatively speaking and specially for the part of the country where they were(way up north :-O )

    folks did what they had to/could and managed for the most part

    yes there are some Americans in Alaska who are living much the same way predominantly by choice and with much better tools/resources remote as they are

    it takes folks like RavenLoon bringing historical information out to help others really understand how good we have it today

    THANKS RavenLoon :)
     
  13. three50seven

    three50seven Scout

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    I find it interesting that the family who appeared to have one of the nicest homes of those pictured, had 7 children, and one photo showed a Winchester 1894, 1897, Marlin 36, and a pump rimfire rifle in their home, and the caption mentioned that they weren't able to make it as farmers and were still on government assistance...
     
  14. Riverpirate

    Riverpirate Supporter Supporter

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    Since you brought up the REA the farm house that I have was the first house in Georgia to light up under the REA. President Roosevelt actually came to my home town of Barnesville Georgia to throw the switch in August of 1938. The farm house was the first rural home in Georgia to get power.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  15. Landrunner33

    Landrunner33 Supporter Supporter

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    Love those old photos. Man they really clear cut the U.P. In the 30’s huh.
     
  16. whtshdwwz

    whtshdwwz Supporter Supporter

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    Interesting to see the one lady wearing a Navy Jumper top with a Chief Boatswain Mate rating badge.
     
  17. RavenLoon

    RavenLoon axology student Supporter

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    A few places like the Porcupine Mountains escaped the axe. Then there were decades of fires. A lot of the land ended up tax reverted as it was unsuitable for farming and is in state or federal forest today. In a lot of ways the forest is still changing. There is an area south of me that was open and held a population of sharptail grouse, an open land species, up until a few years ago. The DNR tried to keep the area open by burning and other methods but it is hard to keep trees out and the sharptails disappeared. They were all over the UP after the forests were cleared but today they are found only in the east UP where there are more farms.
     
  18. 66drifter

    66drifter Guide

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    not only the U.P.

    that was the only way they knew how to do back then

    instant profit today and no thought about future jobs or the future of the land

    since then foresters are learning about managing their forests more n more protecting their jobs along w/ the land

    sadly most of the old growth timber is gone and all we're left with is the commercially/rapidly grown stuff sold by the big box stores
     
  19. Falcon45

    Falcon45 Guide Lifetime Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Thanks so much for posting @RavenLoon. I just love looking at old photos like those.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
  20. Mikem

    Mikem Scout

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    Tough way of life. Tough Americans.
     
  21. 45jack

    45jack Supporter Supporter

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    And a lot of indoor plumbing came in after WWII.
     
  22. NevadaBlue

    NevadaBlue Graybeard Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    None of them seem to be starving.

    1A7C9ED1-8DE7-4302-8B99-29B89F1C3B6D.jpeg
     
  23. 66drifter

    66drifter Guide

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  24. NevadaBlue

    NevadaBlue Graybeard Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Those were important tools for keeping the family alive and wouldn’t have been sold except as a last ditch to survive.
     
  25. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    The voice of informed sanity.

    That should be your sig.
     
  26. Scotchmon

    Scotchmon Supporter Supporter

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    The Phelps, Wisconsin Historical Society compiled a book on the town’s logging history. It ‘s a fascinating read and detailed insight of the logging boom of the area.
    The book went into great detail about the mill and the logging camps of the area. Reading about the camps almost made my skin crawl as it described the living conditions, the constant body lice, etc.!
    Good thing we now have forestry management in place . My hat is off to both our foresters and the men and women who make their living as loggers.
    I always thought I had one of the most tough and physical jobs (concrete construction), but my opinion changed when the show AXMEN aired. Those folks that log the big timber are some tough ESSOBs !
     
  27. UncleCarm

    UncleCarm Tracker

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    I didn't notice that, but I did notice the "Abandoned house" looked better than most of the others.
     
  28. gohammergo

    gohammergo I like sharp things.... Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I know some of the names mentioned. Stromberg is one. I used to help harvest hay for what I am pretty sure is one of the twins shown. Back, oh probably...40 years ago (how time flies) He was an old man, and was a twin. Not 100% sure of course, but a strong possibility.

    Black Aleck. I knew of him. He killed a man in the mines in town. Was never prosecuted due to lack of witnesses. Word is that there was some kind of argument between Black and another guy, probably over a woman. Black and the guy were working alone in a drift, Black came back alone. The other guy was found dead, with his head caved in by a "falling" stone. Black was a pretty bad dude and no one wanted to really look too hard at him about this. The guy who told me about it worked in that mine too, and when he told me the story Black was long since dead. Even so, as he told the story, he kept looking around him like he didn't want Black to hear him talking about it.

    Very cool link @RavenLoon . I like stuff like this. :)
     
  29. gila_dog

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  30. gohammergo

    gohammergo I like sharp things.... Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    https://michpics.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/remembering-the-michigan-blizzard-of-1978/

    The blizzard of 78. Check it out. We had so much snow that the plow trucks couldn't plow some of the roads. The township I lived in tried to get my dad to open up roads with his bulldozer, but the dozer was parked about 6 miles from where we were and we couldn't get to it. I think the national guard opened roads up so the county trucks could get the plows through. It was a crazy time. :) But some great sledding!
     
  31. theNATIVEONE8

    theNATIVEONE8 Scout Bushclass I

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    Very cool history @RavenLoon thanks for sharing!
     
  32. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    I wish I could share this “” quote quote optimism. Worldwide, though, the story is very sad.

     
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  33. LongAgoLEO

    LongAgoLEO Guide

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    The evidence of this white pine eradication is evident as far south in Minnesota as St. Cloud. I have land near Milaca and access to hundreds of acres owned by my (few) neighbors. It appears about every 20 to 30-acres is a lone white pine that survived, matured and thrived, towering over everything else in the forest. These have come to be valuable landmarks when hiking the timber in fall/winter. I have ONE on my tract of land, but can see them poking through the canopy when driving around the region. My neighbor even has the remnants on his place of an old saw mill (large) where they processed the pines from this part of the woods. Kind of sad there aren't large stands of these beautiful trees (around me) anymore.
     
  34. Timex

    Timex Guide

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    Great post. Not from this area, but my dad grew up in MI (born 1919). Eventually, he grew very tired of snow.
     
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  35. LongAgoLEO

    LongAgoLEO Guide

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    Northern Illinois got a taste of this storm, too. Roads were drifted so deep, they brought in the green card laborers from the railroad to climb atop the drifts and dig them down to manageable levels for the heavy equipment available at the time (in Illinois). I was at my childhood home with my new bride, visiting my folks and siblings and ended up stuck out in the middle of the farmland for over a week. Chicago (where I worked), was in rough shape. I recall the (female) Mayor - forgot her name, lost her job after green-lighting the stacking of vehicles in the impounds lots. We killed time by dragging a plastic toboggan behind my '74 Mercury Capri (wearing football helmets). Not many roads were negotiable, but the stuff that was had huge banks that made for great toboggan runs. Car was light enough that the four of us lads could lift it off anytime we got high-center on an intersection windrow. Good stuff!
     
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  36. Eric Westbrook

    Eric Westbrook Supporter Supporter

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    Anyone wanting a pretty good look into the old logging days should stop into Hartwick Pines State Park just outside of Grayling. They have a pretty extensive logging museum there. It is set amongst the last of the old growth pine in the lower penninsula.
     
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  37. Les Staley

    Les Staley Tracker

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    My grandpa Staley was born in 1882, and worked in the logging camps in the tip of the mitt (tip of the lower peninsula) as a young man. The Great Chicago Fire (late 1890s) was the impetus for the clear cutting of Michigan's Upper, Rebuild the town. I have a hard cover copy of the book "Holy old Mackanaw" by Stewart H Holbrook, first edition, (1938) that tells a lot about these years. The Peshtigo Fire happened the same summer as the Chicago Fire, and understandably didn't get as much "press" but was a disaster in its own right. There is a Peshtigo Fire Museum in Northern Wisconsin (don't remember the town) but someone here will fill it in. A lot of the big timber companies got their starts in Northern Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnisota and moved west to Idaho, Washington and Oregon, still in business today. ( Weyerhaeuser)
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019 at 8:00 PM
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  38. RavenLoon

    RavenLoon axology student Supporter

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    It is in Peshtigo Wisconsin. I've been there a couple times.

    My great grandfather worked in the Michigan camps too. A great grandmother who was a widow was a cook in the camps. My grandfather quit school in the third grade to work with her.
     
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  39. Ithica

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    Here are a couple of links to the Kingston Plains area of the U.P.: http://geo.msu.edu/extra/geogmich/kingstonplains.html, http://frankjhutton.blogspot.com/2012/05/kingston-plains.html, https://www.conservationgateway.org...ape Stewardship Stories/09.KingstonPlains.pdf

    The Kingston Lake State Forest Campground is off H-58. It is a nice lightly used campground near Picture Rocks National Lakeshore and Grand Marais. H-58 is a nice scenic drive in the fall when the leaves are changing.

    I hike in the Manistee National Forest north of Newaygo, MI. Sections of the North Country National Scenic Trail follow old narrow gauge logging railroad grades in Newaygo and Lake counties.
     
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  40. Pablo

    Pablo Guide

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    There are some pockets of old growth forest left... if anyone finds themselves near the Sturgeon River Gorge wilderness area, it's well worth the trip. The old growth hemlocks in there are amazing. I live about 30 min. from the western U.P.. Thanks for the post... it was cool to see the pics of all those old "yoopers"...
     
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  41. ATsawyer

    ATsawyer Supporter Supporter

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    There were pockets of old growth hemlock in Virginia prior to the arrival of the wooly adelgid. One famous area was in the Ramsey's Draft wilderness. All those towering trees are gone and many have fallen over, while other standing snags threaten campsites. Enjoy those tall trees while you can and remember them when they're gone.

    Logging out the trail with crosscut and axe, the way it was done in Michigan.

    fullsizeoutput_1590.jpeg 22218391_1711610098914238_7913833598210767830_o.jpg
     
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  42. badgerthehobo

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    I absolutely need to open a sketchy rest called Buckboard Charlie’s.
     
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