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PRESENT):n uy 


as -s 

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Compiled by 

John C. French, John H. Chatham, Mahlon J. 
Colcord, Albert D. Karstetter and Others 


Edited by J. Herbert Walker 

(Secretary of Pennsylvania Alpine Club) 

With a Foreword by 

Henry W. Shoemaker 

(Member State Forest Commission of Pennsylvania) 

Altoona, Pennsylvania 

Published by Times-Tribune Co. 

19 2 2 




Forest County 



Foreword __------ 3 

Pennsylvania's Forest Needs are Urgent Now - 4 

Old Rafting Chant (Poetry) . . - . 16 

Rafting Tales Give Glimpse of Lumbering Days 

of Years Ago ----- - 17 

Susquehanna Rafting Surpassed Other Streams 29 

Rafting Days on the Susquehanna's North Branch 33 

Rafting Days Across the Atlantic Ocean - - 41 

Rivermen Were Carefree Lot, Happy in Their Work 45 

Allegheny River Rafting Days and Rafting Tales 48 

Forest Lore of Rafting Days on the Delaware - 54 

Clarion River Was Famous Rafting Stream of 

Keystone __-_--- 58 

Believe Last Raft Floats Down the Clarion River 62 

Bubbles on Water Good Sign of Rafting Times - . 63 

Running Arks on the P^amous Karoondinha - 71 

Tionesta Rafting Days and Later Forest Conditions 77 

Two Hundred Billion Board Feet of Fine Lumber in 

Heydey -- 83 

Some Notable Floods of the Bounding West Branch 

of Susquehanna _--__- 92 

Glossary of Rafting Terms, by Former Active 

Raftmen - - - - 105 

Rafting Terms ------ 112 

Appearances and Customs of the Early Raftsmen 114 

Cut of 11,233 Board Feet, Probably One Man's 

Lumber Record - 117 

River Items 121 


To those gallant men of rafting and lumbering 
days, when Pennsylvania rightfully bore the title of 
Penn's Woods, men who labored in the giant forests 
of pine and hemlock and later hardwoods, who bravely 
piloted the giant rafts from headwaters to Marietta 
markets, and to those who now, seeing the need of 
forest conservation, are applying their energies, to 
make Pennsylvania again a lumber producing state, 
these pages are respectfully dedicated. 

The glimpse into the days of long ago when rafting 
was a busy trade and lumbering held full sway — given 
in this booklet by those well known philosophers, nat- 
uralists and gentlemen, John C. French, of Roulette, 
Potter County; M. J. Colcord, of Coudersport, Potter 
County, and John H. Chatham, bard, of McElhattan, 
Albert D. Karstetter, Loganton, Clinton County, and 
by that gifted young apostle of Conservation, J. Her- 
bert Walker, Altoona, is a pleasing one. May the 
stories they tell of unbroken forests seventy- five years 
ago fill us with a greater desire to preserve and conserve 
something of Pennsylvania for Pennsylvanians who ap- 
parently don't want it saved. 

Henry W. Shoemaker. 

Altoona Tribune Office^ 
October 12, 1923. 

Pennsylvania's Forest 
Needs Are Urgent Now 


ONLY a raft or two come down the West Branch 
of the Susquehanna River each recurring 
springtime — grim reminders of those glad days 
and free of fifty or seventy-five years ago when this 
waterway, as well as all the other large streams of 
the state, was the means of transporting the giant cuts 
of timber in the forest fastnesses on tlie headwaters 
of the stream. Gone are the mighty forests of spruce 
and pine, gone are the towering forests of hardwood. 
A^anishcd also are most of the men of those days, 
sturdy and true, strong in their beliefs, their likes 
and dislikes, yet men withal. Out of the picture have 
passed those picturesque characters of the l)ackwoods 
and the river front. Into the past have gone the raft- 
men with their 'coonskin caps and their frock coats ! 

Gone also are the many sawmills that lined the 
hanks of the mighty stream. A'anished are the hotels 
that lined the waterway and catered to the rafting 
trade. Damaged or washed away are many of the 
dams through which the rafts were taken on many a 
perilous journey down the river to Marietta and 



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farther points. Even the paths trod by the feet of 
countless raftmen, who walked their weary way back 
to some starting point after delivering the rafts down 
the stream, have almost passed into oblivion. Here 
and there, along the great waterways, one can get 
only a glimpse of the trails made by the raftmen, sing- 
ing their backwoods songs, as they toiled back to their 
homes. With the passing of most of the raftmen, also 
have gone the strains of the violin played on the deck 
of the raft. Gone are the shouts of the raftmen and 
their songs of rafting days. Manv of the villages 
which dotted the stream and which sprang up through 
and lived l)y the rafting trade alone, have followed 
most of the larger sawmills int(^ oljlivion and many 
of these towns — bright, happy and gay in rafting days 
— have settled down to a quiet old age as calm and as 
peaceful as the non-turbulent streams of summer 
flowing sweetly by. 

With tlic passing of the rafting days and rafting 
men it is altogether fitting and proper that at least 
something of those stirring days should be recorded 
— something of a gHmpse into one of the greatest eras 
of Pennsylvania, one of the greatest trades the state 
ever experienced, to briefly descril^e, if that is pos- 
sible; at least a faint picture of that time. It has been 
an extreme pleasure for the editor to enter into the 
task which this book brought forth and if in a small 
way it will have helped to engender a greater appre- 
ciation of Pennsylvania and her forests of other days, 
a greater interest in conservation and a larger desire 


to record more of the period about which this book 
is written, the task of those who have prepared the 
articles and all others who had anything to do with 
the publication of it will have been amply repaid. It 
has been a labor of love ; and the task has been sweet. 
Just how near Pennsylvania approached the period 
of the "last raft" remains to be seen. Every year we 
hear of the last raft coming; down the Susquehanna 
river, and each recurring year another and ofttimes 
several rafts come down the mighty stream. We may 
n ever reach the borderline of the '*las t__rg"ft, " '^inr e 
the con.S£?x-VAtii:m-^1irip^ of Hon. O ifiFnrd Pinrhnt ^re 
taking such a deep root through his devoted efforts 
and the encouragement and cooperation given to the 
cause by all right-thinking people, but this we do 
know that we approached dangerously too near to 
that borderline of the "last raft" and it will take hun- 
dreds of years to place Pennsylvania where the state 
has a right to be in forest production. 

Through an awakened public conscience and an en- 
lightened populace to the needs of forest conservation 
Pennsylvania during the past two years has done a 
great good in the matter of a direct forest policy that 
will bring results. The State Department of Fores- 
try, under the able leadership of Hon. Gifford Pinch ot, 
greatest of foresters in the United States, aided by 
Major R. Y. Stuart — now commissioner — and an able 
board of forest commissioners, as well as the active 
cooperation of water companies, mining companies, 
sportsmen's organizations, walking and hiking clubs, 


land owners, farmers and the people in general, has 
been able to accomplish a great deal. 

A million dollars was provided by the legislature to 
put down forest fires. Half of this amount was spent 
the first year and this is what was done : 

Fifty new steel fire towers, most of them sixty feet 
high, have been erected at the most advantageous 
places in the state. Every tower was completed and 
connected with men organized into effective firefight- 
ing crews before the fire season began. An entirely 
new system of fighting forest fires, pronounced by 
the U., S. Forest service to be the best in existence, 
was devised and installed. Fire wardens and other 
fire fighters were equipped with new tools, among 
them being a combination rake and brush hook super- 
ior to anything yet invented. 

With this equipment and new management the for- 
est fires were not only cut down in number last fall 
and this spring, but the acreage was greatly reduced. 

Now the Department of Forestry is working on a 
larger system of forest fire towers which will be 
placed at different points in the state, so that when 
the summer* is completed Pennsylvania, which even 
now has a greater number of fire towers than any 
other state in the Union and a more efficient fire fight- 
ing organization, will be greatly ahead of any com- 
monwealth in its efforts to preserve and conserve the 

Yet no matter what the effort, nor no matter how 
many people engage in this worthy project, which of 



course must be carried on to the fullest extent, the 
forests of spruce and pine and hemlock that stood on 
the headwaters of Pennsylvania streams a hundred 
years ago — forests which were cut without regulation 
or thought for the morrow — can never be brought 
back. Miles upon miles of unbroken forests, stretch- 
ing as far as the eye could see, the growth of hun- 
dreds of years, yes even centuries, leveled almost in 
the twinkling of an eye because people thought there 
w^as no end — now five million acres of barren waste, 
good only for raising trees, if we can keep the fires 
out and carry on a planting program. And we must 
plant; but we can never hope to approximate the fine 
forests that once w^ere the crowning glory of Penn's 
Woods in the days of which we write and before. 

Maine was once a timber state. Today her people 
are being solicited to subscribe to a fund to save her 
remaining forests. What is true of ]\Iaine in regard 
to the dwindling timber supply is also true of every 
other eastern state. The United States is using about 
five times as much lumber as it is producing. Timber 
is one of the nation's most valuable natural resources. 
When it is gone it is gone until nature has time to re- 
place it by a long and tedious process. Conservation 
is the key to the situation and the replacement of every 
tree that is cut down. If people don't do it from a 
personal interest in reforestation, then state laws 
ought to compel a man to plant a tree every time he 
removes one, unless he can show that its removal is a 

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benefit to his property, his own or his family's health 
or to growing timber. 

The subject of the future of the lumber industry in 
Pennsylvania is a large one and can best be approach- 
ed by a study of the past developments of the industry, 
its present resources and a look into the future as 
sensed by the increase in forest cooperation. A look 
into the lumber industry of a half or more century ago 
is given in this booklet. 

In 1850 the United States produced five billion 
board feet of lumber with New York leading, Penn- 
sylvania second, Maine tliird, Ohio fourth, Indiana 
fifth and ^Michigan sixth. 

In 1860 the total production w^as eight billion feet. 
Pennsylvania then led with New Y^ork, Michigan, 
Alaine, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin following in the 
order named. 

In 1870 the production had risen to 12,755,000,000 
feet and Michigan topped the list with Pennsylvania, 
New YY)rk, Wisconsin, Indiana, [Maine, Ohio and 
[Missouri next in rank. The centre of population 
definitely passed in this decade to the Lake States 
where it remained for thirty years. Michigan led the 
other states of the Union from 1870 to 1900 when 
Wisconsin took the lead until 1905. 

The shift of the lumber production centre from the 
east to the west began with the rise of the state of 
Washington to a leading place. Since 1905, with the 
single exception of the year 1914, the state of Wash- 
ington has held supremacy as a lumber producer. 


Today out of a total cut of 33,798,800,000 board feet 
the order of the states is as follows: Washington, 
Oregon, Louisiana, Mississippi, California, Arkansas, 
Alabama, Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Vir- 
ginia, and Florida. All the rest of the states produce 
less than a billion feet yearly. 

Pennsylvania, greatest lumber state in 1860. has 
passed out of the picture ! 

It is said that the United States still has 2,200 bil- 
lion board feet of merchantable timber, sufficient to 
support a yearly cut of 40 billion feet for 55 years — 
but we must make an effective national and state for- 
est policy which will forever safeguard the American 
lumber supply. 

To go into details of such a forest policy would 
carry one far aheld, into every corner of the United 
States. Various measures have been proposed and 
fully discussed in the various lumber conventions and 
conservation meetings. The essential thing, however, 
reforest areas which are better suited to growing trees 
than for any other purpose. 

The history of the lumber industry in the United 
States shows a migatory movement from the East to 
the Lake States and thence to the Pacific Coast. Tliis 
is the last stronghold ! All this has come to pass in 
two generations. At the present time — with the lum- 
ber now standing — we have only enough to last for 
two generations ! After that we shall have to depend 
upon homegrown products, the results of planting 


NOW and in after years. In the meantime we will 
pay for our laxity by hea\y freight charges on every 
thousand feet of lumber shipped across the continent. 
Since the bulk of our people live in the East and over 
half of our remaining timber supply is in the West, 
the freight charge is today in excess of what it costs 
to manufacture lumber on the Pacific Coast. 

We have forest land, we can keep it producing 
trees, wc can replant such areas as have been denuded. 
If we do not delay in adopting a proper forest policy 
we can assure by the practice of forestry the future 
of the American timber supply. There is no other 

Pennsylvania can aid greatly in bringing back 
forested areas and reducing the cost of lumber to the 
people. Five million acres of waste land in this state 
can produce nothing else and are suitable for nothing 
else than the growing of timber. The Forestry De- 
partment, under wise leadership and with some co- 
operation, has accomplislied a great deal — but the 
future of the timber supply for Pennsylvanians rests 
with them and with them alone. Aside from the tim- 
ber supply that Pennsylvania can produce, every dollar 
earned from state forest products carries a certain 
amount for the public schools. 

Mr. A. O. Vorse, chief of the bureau of informa- 
tion of the State Department of Forestry says : 

"The wood situation in Pennsylvania is serious. In 
1850 Pennsylvania stood second among the states of 
the Union in lumber production — in 1860 she was 


first — now she holds twentieth place. In 1918 Penn- 
sylvania produced 30,000,000 board feet of lumber 
and consumed 2,632,965,000 board feet. This shows 
that she produced only 20.1 per cent of the lumber 
consumed. It has also been found that of the thir- 
teen pulp mills operating within the state, and con- 
suming annually about one half million cords of wood, 
four import all the wood they use, eight import more 
than 75 per cent and all but three of the mills import 
more than 50 per cent of their wood. Only 26 per 
cent of the wood used by the pulp mills is grown with- 
in the state, which means that 71: per cent is imported." 

Five-sixths of our virgin timber in the United 
States is gone. Two-thirds of all the states with 
eighty million people and more than four-fifths of the 
farm values of the country depend for timber on the 
few remaining states which will cut more than they 
consume. Within ten years the entire country will 
have to depend on two or three states for nearly all its 
soft-wood lumber supply. Moreover what we can- 
not secure at home, we cannot buy abroad, for more 
than half of the nations of the world are dependent 
for timber supplies upon forests beyond their own 
boundaries. Even ]\Iexico imports her lumber supply, 
while the Canadians, if they should give us all they 
have, could not meet our needs for more than a gener- 

The demands we make upon our forests are gigan- 
tic. Alore than half of all the lumber used in the 
world is consumed in the United States. Meanwhile 


we are replacing by growth only one-fourth of what 
we cut and our remaining supplies are dwindling to 
an early end. It is clear that we must grow what we 
need or go without. 

Those who have written of early lumber and raft- 
ing days in Pennsylvania and whose articles appear 
in this booklet have been among the most active con- 
servationists of the present time, even though some 
of them, back in their rafting days and lumbering 
days little thought that such a condition of lumber 
want would come about. Sorry for the slipshod 
method of lumbering, wasteful lumbering, of those 
early days, most of the woodsmen and raftmen of that 
time have been prominent in conservation work in the 
past twenty years, glad of the opportunity to do what 
they can to bring about better lumber conditions in 
his state. 

Chapters in this book by John C. French, of Roul- 
ette, Potter County; M. J. Colcord, of Coudersport; 
John H. Chatham, of McElhattan, have all been pre- 
pared from first hand knowledge of the times and in- 
cidents of which they have so ably written. A great 
deal of additional data was secured by Mr. French 
from William Hazlett, Civil war veteran of the 149th 
Pennsylvania Volunteers (Bucktails) of Roulette, 
Pa., who built rafts and boats on the Allegheny 1866- 
1875 and ran them to Portsmouth, Ohio, and other 
river points. For the elucidation or other knotty 
problems Mr. French extends his thanks to James 
Lewis, raftman, and former pilots, the late Edwin 


Grimes, Wm. S. Brine, Jack Scrogg (Seneca), and 
his brother, Thomas Scrogg, of Carrollton, N. Y., and 
A. D. Karstetter of Loganton, CHnton County. 

Mr. French, in a recent letter says : "While on a 
brief journey in the ethereal world I met some of our 
old friends who have resided there for some time. 
They seemed happy and busy as ever, as when they 
were here in Pennsylvania. Frank H. Goodyear had 
planted a vast tract of hemlock forest all over the 
place, and he was supervising its welfare ; Grover 
Cleveland had the streams and lakes stocked with trout 
and other game fish he was fond of and Theodore 
Roosevelt, who had just arrived, was stocking the 
forest with wild animals and beautiful birds." 

Mr. French might now add the immortal spirit of 
the late Dr. Joseph Trimble Rothrock, the "Father of 
Forestry in Pennsylvania," who gave forty-five years 
of his useful and active life to the betterment of 
Pennsylvania forests and the insurance of a continued 
lumber supply for the state. It will be well for us all 
to follow out the teachings and actions of the late 
lamented forestry leader in the Keystone State. 

It is a far cry from the rafting days of 1850 and 
1860, when through the exploitation of the forests 
approximately 200 billion feet of board timber of all 
kinds was cut from Pennsylvania forests to today 
when the state only produces a meagre amount and 
stands twentieth in the list of lumber producing states 
of the Union — dropping from its honored first place 
in 1860. It is a long step from the days when rafts 


filled the streams and the carefree song of the river- 
men floated over the broad bosoms of every large 
waterway. The 460,000,000 acres of timberland in 
the United States which remain, if they produced fifty 
cubic feet a year per acre, could almost meet the pre- 
sent demands and present needs. But they have been 
so mishandled that fifteen cubic feet per acre is all 
they grow, while the population is increasing and the 
use of wood is multiplying. Keep out the forest fires. 
Plant more trees. Regulate the cutting. Cooperate 
with the advocates of forestry. If all these ideas and 
plans are carried out, under the wise leadership we 
now enjoy, Pennsylvania may again be able to feel 
honored by the title of Penn's Woods. 

Altoona Tribune Office, 

October 12, 1922. 



Old Rafting Chant 

HUS drifting to sea on a 
hick of white pine, 
For grub and the 

wages we're paid, 
The scoffers who rail 

as we buffet the brine. 
May see us in sun 
or in shade; 
But true to our course, 

though weather be thick, 
We set our broad sail 

as before. 
And stand by the tiller 
that governs the hick. 
Nor care how we look from 
the shore. 

Rafting Tales Give 
Glimpse of Lumbering 
Days of Years Ago 


THE tales of rafting lumber and timber on the 
larger streams of Pennsylvania give many 
glimpses of the immense forests of white pine 
(Piniis Sfrobus) that once stood on the hillsides and 
along the valleys of the Keystone State anti indicate 
to us the active forest life of the men engaged in the 
industry connected with lumbering and exploiting the 
trees that made up the forest in each locality where 
operations were, from time to time, established. 

The first explorers sought for gold ; but they found 
trees of many kinds. The first exports from the New 
World to the Old World were products of the forest. 

The st atelv white p ine tree was easily the king of 
forest trees in Pennsylvania and the most valuable to 
the people who had come from denuded districts of 
Europe to our ample forests of so many varieties of 
valuable trees that had become scarce in their former 
homes. They resolved to protect the forests from 
devastating fires and to keep tracts for future use on 



every farm. They soon forgot these good resolutions. 
On this phase our former chief of the Pennsylvania 
State Forestry Department, Gifford Pinchot, said 
many years ago : 

''They came from a country where wood was com- 
paratively scarce and where the penalties for its de- 
struction were severe and strictly enforced. The re- 
spect for the forest, which had been bred in their an- 
cestors by the early English game laws and continued 
in themselves by enactments of extreme rigor, was 
brought over to the new land almost without change, 
but it was not destined to last. A growing realization 
of the vast resources at their command, together with 
the bitter struggle of the farmer against the forest in 
the early days, gradually replaced care with careless- 
ness and respect with a desire for destruction. The 
feeling bred by the battle against the forests began to 
take a dominant place in the minds of the people and 
to prepare that attitude responsible for destruction." 

And so the giant white pine (pinus strohiis) and the 
abundant wealth of wild life among the trees were at- 
tacked and destroyed by our ancestors, and the Orig- 
inal Men (Lenni Lenape Indians) were pressed back, 
step by step in stubborn protest against the unreason- 
able carnival of waste they beheld around them, and 
this nightmare of waste expanded the forest opera- 
tions along the valleys of the Colony and later Com- 
monwealth during the eighteenth and nineteenth cen- 
turies. From the pine trees and their products of 
lumber, timber, staves and shingles, the rafts were 


constructed, boats, arks, barges and scows built and 
loaded for the markets on rivers below, and the mer- 
chant ships loaded for the coastal markets and foreign 
trade. A great commerce developed and expanded 
as a tree-devastated Europe clamored for more and 
more pine lumber. 

At the beginning of the twentieth century we 
aroused from our slumber, glanced at the spectres of 
denuded hills rising toward heaven in the agony of 
desolation and despair, groaned piteously over the re- 
sults that frowned upon our vision, and — we dreamed 
on of a renewed forest. 

After two decades we are doing something to re- 
store a grand forest around headwater springs that 
supply the rivers. It is well ! But let us never dream 
again ! Steadily for two solid centuries we must plant 
trees, preserve the tree volunteers on denuded hills, 
on hills fitted by the Creator for nothing else but 
for bearing trees, trees and more trees, now and for- 
ever, the fire-devil must be excluded from our poten- 
tial forest areas. Then civilization may dominate 
and renew our forests until the Keystone State may 
boast of five million acres of trees where now a desert 

From our original white pine forests the rafts 
floated on the rivers to supply the markets with forest 
material in the several sections, and a great foreign 
commerce developed.. The historian has dwelt at 
great length in ages past on peoples in political move- 
ments ; the many achievements of diplomats to pre- 


serve peace in the' world; and of warriors and wars 
upon the various battlefields of the earth as of more 
vital interest than the matters of business. The times 
are changing. Commerce dominates the international 
intercourse today. Conquest no longer pays for the 
cost it occasions. 

Commerce always has been a controlling factor in 
making the world's history, despite the records we 
may read in ancient tomes and modern treaties. The 
assumed ethical basis of events has been more camou- 
flage than revelation of national sanctity at the con- 
ference table ; but there is evidence now that the lead- 
ers of men have discarded the trappings of deception 
and stand upon their just rights, as business organiza- 
tions ; for all government is merely the business of a 
state's or a nation's business control, organized for 
governing a people. It has always been more import- 
ant that people should live than that they should live 
under a particular government or in any particular 
place. The quest of a livelihood has guided the mi- 
grations of races and has been the inciting cause of 
discoveries, settlement and conquest. Encouragement, 
protection and control of trade have been the most 
frequent subjects of legislation. Although the world 
at large accords manufacturer and merchant a posi- 
tion coordinate with that of the warrior and states- 
man, and out of this new appreciation have come 
histories of industry ; no comprehensive history of our 
important and original forests has ever been compiled. 

Young adventurers went into the forest to labor 


during the past two hundred years and the trees were 
felled and cut into logs to drive to the sawmills for 
sawing into lumber. Large quantities were hewed 
on four sides for squared board timber, bound into 
great rafts and floated to sawmills on the larger rivers. 

They began by clearing away a few of the trees and 
building a camp of round logs, the walls of which 
were seldom more than five feet high, and roofed with 
bark or boards. A pit was dug under the camp to 
protect anything liable to injury by freezing. The fire 
was at one end wnth a chimney of rough stones and 
clay for a smoke flue. Hay or straw was strewn 
across the whole breadth of the structure, on wdiich 
the men lay down together. to sleep with their feet to 
the fire, covered by a warm blanket in cold weather, 
when most of this work was done. When one awak- 
ened the fire was replenished by throwing on large 
billets of wood. One was employed as cook to have 
breakfast ready at daylight, consisting of bread, pota- 
toes, meat and tea sweetened with molasses. Dinner 
was about the same as breakfast, and supper the same 
as breakfast and dinner, with entrees of beans, fish or 

The young woodsmen and raftmen were enormous 
eaters and they drank much rum, or other spirits, 
which they scarcely ever diluted. Their constitutions 
were undermined by their customs and the strenuous 
labor in the forests and on the rafts. Exposure to 
winter's frost and snow was nothing like the snow 
water of the spring freshets in which they worked 


day after day, wet to the middle and often immersed 
from head to foot, and they needed stimulants of ard- 
ent spirits to keep going. Premature old age was the 
fate of many of the men. 

After settling and delivering the logs or the rafts 
at the agreed destination in each case, they often 
passed some days or weeks in indulgence, in drinking, 
smoking and dashing around in a long coat, waistcoat 
and trousers, Hessian boots or laced shoes, 'kerchief 
of many colors around their necks, and a watch with 
long chain and many seals decorating each vest. How- 
ever, many other of these men purchased farms, be- 
came thrifty, married and raised families of strong 
sons and pleasing daughters. Not a few of them be- 
came partners in large forest operations, and some 
followed other lines of successful business. No doubt 
the prayers of devoted mothers were answered in 
many cases. Let us so believe ! 

A great belt of coniferous (evergreen) timber 
stretched across northern Pennsylvania, mingled with 
broad-leaved (deciduous) timber. At first the white 
pine, the various hard pines, and oak, cherry and ash 
timber attracted the attention of buyers of lumber. 

The tales of rafting days on the various streams 
as given in this booklet indicate the chief sections 
within this state where the buoyant white pine was 
found at the various dates, for it depended on the 
river courses for transporting it to the ocean. The 
hemlock timber and bark reached the markets later, 
as did most of the hardwoods, after the railroads had 


been built from the ocean through the timber districts 
of the state. 

Our volume of lumber output expanded until the 
census for 1850 showed that New York state only, 
exceeded that of Pennsylvania, and we held first place 
in 1860 and in 1870. Then in 1880 only Michigan 
surpassed us. In 1890 we held fourth place, being 
surpassed by ^Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. 

All of the early explorers, travelers and scientists 
dilated upon the abundance, high quality and utility 
of our white pine. The Frenchman, Andre Michaux, 
who may well be termed the Father of American 
Forest Botany, in his "North American Sylva" de- 
voted much space to lauding white pine ana its habi- 
tat. From personal observation he wrote : 

"The upper part of Pennsylvania near the sources 
of the Delaware and the Susquehanna, which is moun- 
tainous and cold, possesses large forests of white 
pine ^;< * * * Beyond the mountains near the 
springs of the river Allegheny, from 150 to 180 miles 
from its junction with the Ohio, is cut all the white 
pine destined for New Orleans, which is 2900 miles 

His son, Francois Andre Michaux, succeeded his 
father and wrote of our forests as they were seen dur- 
ing the first decade of the last century, perhaps about 
1805, more particularly of about deciduous trees in 
Pennsylvania which he described and classified; but 
his botanical names do not all agree with those now 
in accepted use. Peter Kalm, a Finnish naturalist, 


visited our forests in 1749, and he wrote also of our 
magnificent oaks and white pines from the Delaware 
river to the Ohio boundary line. 

These representatives of the old days, with the tales 
of rafting scenes on the rivers, surely will lift the 
curtain a little, and give us the longed for realization 
of the drama that was enacted here in the great belt 
of white pine. 

^Memory recalls the yoke-fellow of man in the past 
operations among the white pine trees — I mean the 
ox ; the maple yoke with liickory bows and the equip- 
ment for applying the strength of oxen to the task of 
moving the white pine sawlogs ; up goes a corner of 
the curtain. Another peep! An old logger takes up 
the tale and says : 

''When I first went to work in the woods it was in 
1854 and only oxen were used for hauling. Xo one 
thought of beginning operations until snow had come 
so that supplies could be sledded into the camps. For 
hauling logs a team of four to eight oxen was yoked 
to a bobsled — a short sled witli a single bar upon which 
was placed a heavy timber called a bunk which served 
to strengthen the bar and to prevent it from being 
worn out. On this bunk the ends of the logs were 
placed and securely chained, the other ends dragging, 
so that the team moved tlie load by sheer strength. 
Then too the logs before being loaded had to be barked 
— that is, the bark was hewed ofi: of one side, so that 
tliey could be dragged with greater ease. This took 


time and the operation was later replaced by wagon 
or wheel sleds. 

"There was no Varding' of logs then as was done 
later, all logs being hauled directly to the 'landing.' 
To load the sled for each trip the oxen were taken 
from the pole or sled-tongue, and used to drag or roll, 
the logs upon the sled — a very slow process. The 
sleds and yokes were made after the crew arrived 
at camp, the sleds without a scrap of iron in them 
except a clevis pin at the end of each tongue. The 
yoke bows were brought into the woods, hung to the 
necks of the oxen. For tlie yokes we hunted up 
crooked birch trees with the right bend in their trunks 
and hewed and shaved them into shape, or we made 
yokes from maple, buttonwood or i)epperigc trees. 
Later with a pair of horses and the wagon-sled, a 
man could do as much in a day as we did before 
with a bobsled and eight oxen. The change from 
oxen to horses effected a very great saving in time 
and expense of logging, for men moved more quickly, 
wasting much less time. When moving pine logs cost 
six dollars in the Sixties, hemlock logs in the Eighties 
were moved over the same ground and distance for 
only two dollars and fifty cents a thousand feet, board 
measure by Scribner's log rule, by gum ! Better wages 
were paid by hemlock operators to the men in the 
Eighties than DuLois and Grantier paid in the Six- 

Though the homily above may sound like Greek 
language flowing freely, I warrant that every grand- 


father can translate most of it into the patois that we 
now call ''Our English Tongue." The veterans of our 
Civil war understand it now, and spoke that way in 
1861-5, and earlier. 

O tempora mutantur ! The times change, and our 
forests have disappeared from our hills and valleys 
as those from Lebanon, Canaan and Assyria went in 
bygone ages, leaving deserts of sand and rocks over 
which the crow must now carry his rations or starve, 
as he journeys to the Tigris or Euphrates. Where 
rise the springs of Alount Peaslee, to form the five 
rivers — the Punjab of Potter County — including the 
Allegheny, Genesee and Pine Creek, broad, fertile 
fields spread out before the beholder's eyes as once did 
fruitful Sharon from Herman and Ebal and from the 
now barren ^ Fount Tabor. 

On October 30, VJ21, a party of kindred spirits left 
Coudersport in a touring car on pleasant recreation 
bent. These were Col. Henry W. Shoemaker and 
John H. Chatham, AIcElhattan; A. O. Ahorse, Harris- 
burg; Judge Albert S. Heck and jMahlon J. Colcord, 
Coudersport and John C. French, Roulette, the writer 
of this chronicle. 

Up the Allegheny river the party w^ent to Mount 
Peaslee where the perennial, crystal spring bubbles 
forth from the throne upon which the ancient ^loqua 
sat to rule the rivers w^hen the world was young. 
Thence they went to the south base of the hill where 
a similar spring goes away toward the midday sun, 
the beginning of Pine Creek, the ancient Tiadaghton 


down whose way one may gaze from the porch of the 
Morley manor house for many miles, where the giant 
pines once sang to the southwind their song of plenty ; 
thence the party went to the north base and gazed into 
the limpid spring that originates the river Genesee, 
that proceeds directly to the Arms of the Almighty, 
as redmen called Lake Ontario, when forests lined 
each shore of every stream and crowned every hill. 
The deciduous forest remains, in many tiny groves on 
Mt. Peaslee, but the coniferous forests along Tiadagh- 
ton are no more. 

"Sentimental gush," you exclaim. IMayse it is so, 
and yet the most practical thing you will read of for 
a whole month. The people of France are sentimen- 
tal, and how practical they appeared not so very long 
ago. And longer ago, we knew it at Yorktown, and 
also, here in Pennsylvania. From 1785 to 1807, 
Andre Michaux and his son devoted much time to 
the study of our forests, and wrote their ''North 
American Silva," a valuable work. But F. Andre 
Michaux was sentimental in 1855, when he wrote his 
will, leaving two legacies available for the improve- 
ment of our forests : 

''Wishing to recognize the services and good recep- 
tion which my father and myself, together and separ- 
ately, have received during our long and often peril- 
ous travels in all the extent of the United States, as a 
mark of my lively gratitude, and also to contribute 
to that country to the extension and progress of agri- 
culture, and more especially of silviculture in the 



United States, I give and bequeath to the American 
Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, of which I 
have the honor to be a member, the sum of $12,000; 
I give and hequeath to the Society of Agriculture and 
Arts in the State of ^Massachusetts, of which I have 
the honor to be a member, the sum of $8000 ; these 
two sums making 180,000 francs, or again $20,000." 

Let us all emulate his example ! 



Rafting Surpassed 

Other Streams 


RAFTING was at one time a great business on all 
the large streams of Pennsylvania. It was a 
prosperous l)usiness for many years on the Del- 
aware, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Allegheny and their 
larger tributary streams. But the rafting ])usiness on 
the Susquehanna surpassed that on all the other rivers 
and streams combined. A number of factors made 
possible this great, but in many cases hazardous, pros- 
perous business. The large volume of water and the 
condition of the river l)ed were favorable to rafting. 
The Susquehanna drains 21,000 square miles within 
Pennsylvania and (5,000 square miles in New York. 
The water flowing in the Susquehanna River at the 
Maryland line represents a drainage basin equal to 
60 per cent, of the total area of Pennsylvania. A 

*Infcrmation supplied to Prof. J. S. Illick by John H. 
Chatham (poet, naturalst and teacher), of McElhattan, Clin- 
ton County, Pa. Mr. Chatham began rafting- in 1862, wlien he 
was 15 years old, and continued in the business until 1873 — a 
period of 18 years. Each spring- he made four trips, beg-inning 
at Lock Haven and ending- at Columbia, Marietta or Wrig-hts- 
ville. Mr. Chatham is uoaa' 75 years old and delights in telling 
tales about the olden days. 



further factor which helped develop rafting was the 
large quantity of timber about the headwaters of the 
Susquehanna suitable for rafting. 

The rafting business at one time employed many 
men, and during spring the river was densely dotted 
with floating rafts, varying in size and representing a 
large number of owners. 

The rafts were made up in eddys and other placid 
places along the river where the water was fairly deep. 
A large number were made up about Lock Haven. 
The logs were usually 25 to 80 feet long, placed along 
side of each other and then lashed together with lash- 
poles (halyards) usually made from water birch or 
ironwood saplings The lash-poles were fastened to 
the logs with wooden bows about IG inches long, 1^ 
inches wide, and from ^ to 2 inches thick. 

The bows were usually made of white oak, split and 
bent before being used. Holes were then bored into 
the logs with rude crank-handled augurs and the lash- 
poles fastened by fitting and fastening the bows into 
the holes. 

The ordinary raft was from 150 to 300 feet long 
and up to 26 feet wide; the general width was 24 feet, 
this being the greatest width allowed by chutes 
through which the rafts had to pass. The longest 
raft brought down the river in the early days was 320 
feet long, and the longest single piece of timber was 
115 feet long and 12 inches square at the small end. 
Small rafts were called "pups". *'A pair of pups" 
was a name applied to two creek rafts. 


There were rafting divisions on the Susquehanna 
just as we find them today on the railroads. 

Division I extended from Clearfield to Lock Haven. 

Division II extended from Lock Haven to Columbia, 
Marietta and Wrightsville. 

Division III extended from Marietta to tidewater. 

It was at Columbia, Marietta and Wrightsville and 
other terminal points of the second division where 
two sets of practical men met — the raft owners and the 
timber merchants. Those were great trading days, 
when woodsman guile was set up against Yankee wit. 

The rafting crews varied somewhat in size. The 
crews operating between Lock Haven and Marietta 
consisted of two to four and sometimes eight men. 
The up-river rafts often consisted of ten men, as the 
raft owner could not pay his men until the timber was 
sold, and took them on to Marietta. Two men, as a 
rule, manned one raft and four men a fleet. A fleet 
consisted of two rafts. The tasks of the four men 
were as follows : 

1 Pilot 

2 Steerers 
1 Helper 

Total, 4 

From Marietta to tidewater the crew usually con- 
sisted of nine men — five on the front end of the raft 


and four at the rear end, the large number being re- 
quired 1)ecause of the hazarous and rocky condition of 
the river l)ed l)elow Cokimbia. 

Timl)er was cheap in those days. The price of raft 
timl^er averaged about 14^/^ cents per cubic foot. The 
l)est white i)ine and white oak 1)rought only 25 cents 
per cubic foot. Spars were then in great demand. 
They were from 90 to 100 feet long and brought $100 

In the early days the timbers were hewn, that is, 
squared, before being placed in rafts. Later on the 
logs were brought down "in the round". Alost of the 
ratfs were made up of logs of white pine, hemlock and 
other kinds which float easily. But occasionally 
heavier timl^ers were brought down in rafts. Towards 
the end of the trip the logs became water soaked 
and entire rafts were about completely submerged. 

A box of cold food and a wigwam tent was often 
the only equipment upon the rafts. Whiskey was plen- 
ful and cheap in those days. Every few miles the 
floating rafts would be approached by whiskey distrib- 
utors, who operated in rowboats from their base of 
supply on the shore. Air. Chatham was one of the 
very few lumljermen who never used liquor in any 
form .during the time he rafted on the Susquehanna. 

Getting up material on ''Rafting on the Susque- 
hanna" must make one feel like being "in some banquet 
hall deserted," stated Mr. Chatham, as he closed his 

M i 

S5 « 

Rafting Days On 

The Susquehanna 's 

North Branch 


ALL the territory drained by the Susquehanna and 
its tributaries was originally forest clad, and 
what a noble forest it was ! The giant pines, 130 
to 200 feet tall and two to six feet in diameter — some 
of them larger and taller — stood in the glens, amidst 
the hardwoods and hemlocks, wholly unconscious of 
the part they were to play in the drama of development 
of the country. 

By 1790 the valleys had been penetrated by the 
hardy pioneers to the south and east. In Bradford 
County (then Ontario County) Anthony Rummer field 
built a sawmill, 1774, in the township of Standing 
Stone, which derives its name from a high rock stand- 
ing in the Susquehanna River, a landmark for the In- 
dians and the earliest white men who settled the region 
near "the southern door" of the Iroquois confederation. 
Conrad Weiser, in 1737, on his way to Onondaga for a 
conference with the Six Nations, described it. 

The township was erected in 1841 from parts of the 



townships of Herrick and Wyssox. The site of the 
mill is on the Rummerfield Creek, where water power 
was cheaply available. Amos Bennett built a mill on 
Bennett's Creek in Asylum Township. After the land 
bought by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 
the Indians at Fort Stanwix in 1784 was opened for 
sale in 1785, Prince Bryant bought 600 acres in Athens 
Township and soon built a saw and grist mill on his 
land. Soon afterward Casper Singer on Towanda 
Creek, Abial Foster and Jonathan Ho^comb on Sugar 
Creek, Martin and Cephas Stratton, William Means 
and others built mills at Van Gorder's on Towanda 
Creek, and other Bradford County streams from which 
rafts of lumber were sent down the Susquehanna to 
Port Deposit for Baltimore markets. 

From Wyoming, 1787, Captain Joseph Leonard and 
his family moved up the Susquehanna in a canoe and 
made the first permanent settlement at Binghamton, 
New York, then a forest of pines and hardwood trees. 
He was followed the same year by Colonel Rose 
Joshua Whitney and a few others with their families, 
and a saw mill was soon built to supply lumber for 
homes and for rafts to Maryland. In the lower Can- 
isteo Valley in Addison Township, Steuben County, 
New York, just north of the Pennsylvania border, 
George Goodhue in 1793 built a saw mill. -This was 
one of the famous pine regions of New York, a central 
point and resort for all the lumbermen along the line 
of the two great pine lumber states. 

Hornell, Tuscarora, Woodhull, Jasper, Canisteo, 


Greenwood to "Deadwater," as Addison was called, 
rafts lined the streams. The men who guided the 
Canisteo rafts to Chemung and Susquehanna ports 
were the most efficient raftmen in freshets to be found 
in the country. Charles Williamson built two saw 
mills near Bath on the Cohocton in 1792. Mud Creek 
and the Cohocton were cleared of obstructions at once 
to make both navigable for arks and rafts of pine lum- 
ber from the mills. 

George McClure, born in Ireland, 1770, came to 
America in 1790 and located in Steuben County, New 
York. He became a man of prominence in that section, 
and was spoken of as "General'' McClure. Finally he 
lived at Elgin, Illinois. In 1800 he ran an ark down 
the Cohocton, Chemung and Susquehanna to Harris- 
burg, en route to Baltimore. The narrative of his ex- 
perience as a lumberman is interesting and typical of 
the time and section. 

"I built an ark seventy-five feet long and sixteen feet 
wide, and got out a cargo of pipe and hogshead staves 
which I knew would turn to good account should I ar- 
rive safely in Baltimore. All things being ready, with 
cargo on board, a good pitch of water and a first-rate 
set of hands, we put our vessel into the stream and 
away we went at a rapid rate. In half an hour we 
reached White's Island, five miles below Bath. There 
we ran against a large tree that lay across the river. 
We made our ark fast to the shore, cut away the tree, 
repaired damages and next morning took a fair start. 
It is unnecessary to state in detail the many difficulties 


we encountered before we reached Painted Post, but in 
about six days we got there. 

"The Chemung River had fallen so low that we were 
obliged to wait for a rise of water. We made a fresh 
start, after four or five days, with a fair pitch of water, 
and in four days ran 200 miles to Mahantango, a place 
twenty miles from Harrisburg, where, through ignor- 
ance of the pilot, we ran upon a bar of rocks in the 
middle of the river, where it was a mile wide. 

''There we lay twenty- four hours, no one coming to 
our relief or to take us on shore.. At last two gentle- 
men came on board and told us it was impossible to get 
the ark off until a rise of water. One of the gentlemen 
inquired, apparently very casually, what it cost to build 
an ark of that size and how many staves we had on 
board. I suspected his object and answered in his own 
careless manner. He inquired if I did not wish to sell 
the ark and cargo. I told him I preferred going 
through, if there were any chance of a rise of water — 
that pipe staves in Baltimore were worth $80.00 per 
thousand, but that I would consider any fair offer for 
ark and cargo. He offered to pay me $600 for the ark 
and load. I told him that was hardly half their value 
in Baltimore, but that for $(S00 I would close a bargain 
with him. He said he had a horse, saddle and bridle on 
shore worth $200 which he would add to the $600 of- 
iered to me. We all went ashore. I examined the 
horse, closed the bargain and started for Bath on 
horseback. I lost nothing by the sale, but if I had 


succeeded in reaching Baltimore, I should have cleared 

"That same spring Jacob Bartles and his brother-in- 
law, Mr. Harvey, made their way down Mud Creek 
with one ark and some rafts. Bartles' mill pond and 
Mud Lake afforded water sufficient, at any time, by 
drawing a gate to carry arks and rafts out of the creek. 
Harvey lived on the West Branch of the Susquehanna 
and understood the management of such craft. Thus 
it was ascertained that by improving the streams we 
could transport our produce to Baltimore — a distance 
of 300 miles — in the spring of the year for a trifle. 

''My next venture in business was attended by better 
success. My brother Charles kept a small store at 
Bath, New York, and during the year of 1800 we 
entered partnership. I moved to Dansville, opened a 
store there and remained there one year. We did a 
safe business and took in, during the winter, 4,000 
bushels of wheat and 200 barrels of pork. I built four 
arks at Arkport on the Canisteo River and ran them to 
Baltimore, loaded with the wheat and pork in the spring 
of 1801. These were the first arks that descended the 
Canisteo. My success that year gave us a fair start in 
trade. My brother, meantime, went to Philadelphia to 
buy a fresh supply of goods for both stores ; but on his 
return trip he died very suddenly at Tioga Point. 

"He had purchased about $30,000 worth of goods. 
With my family I returned to Bath, continued the store 
at Dansville, opened another at Penn Yan, and a small 
store at Pittstown, in Ontario County (Bradford Counr 


ty now), Pennsylvania. At that time I bought the 
Cold Spring Mill site, midway between Bath and 
Crooked Lake, and 300 acres of land; also 800 acres 
of forest land from the Land Office, to secure the whole 
privilege of the mill site. There I built a saw mill, a 
flour mill, a fulling mill, and a grinding machine for 
local custom work. 

*'In 1814 I sold my Cold Spring mills to Henry A. 
Townsend for $14,000, and built other mills at Bath. 
In the spring of 1816, I ran to Baltimore a million feet 
of pine and 100,000 feet of cherry boards and curled 
maple lumber, besides flour and produce. I chartered 
three brigs and shipped the maple and cherry lumber 
and 500 barrels of flour to Boston, Mass. The flour 
sold there at a fair price, but the lumber lay a dead 
weight on my hands. At length the inventor of a ma- 
chine for spinning wool by water-power offered to sell 
a machine for $3,500 and take the lumber in payment. 
I closed the bargain with him and embarked in woolen 
manufacture at Bath. I obtained a loan from the State 
and was doing well until Congress reducea me tariff 
that protected home industry to a mere nominal tax on 
imports from other countries. Immediately after that 
this country was flooded with foreign vabrics, and few 
woolen factories in the United States survived the 

Confirmatory of the arks of Messrs. Bartles and 
Harvey, mentioned above, by "General" McClure, a 
record entered by the County Clerk of Steuben County, 


New York, in Vol. I, "Record of Deeds," is of interest, 
viz : 

"This fourth day of April, one thousand eight hun- 
dred, started from the mills of Frederick Bartles on the 
outlet of Mud Lake (Frederickstown), two arks of the 
following dimensions : One built by Col. Charles Wil- 
liamson, of Bath, 72 feet long and 15 feet wide; the 
other built by Nathan Harvey, 71 feet long and 15 feet 
wide, were conducted down the Cohocton (after going 
through Mud Creek without any accident) to Painted 
Post enroute to Baltimore. These are the first arks 
built in this county except the one built on the Cohoc- 
ton, at White's saw mill, five miles below Bath, by Mr. 
Patterson, Sweeney and others, from Pennsylvania, 70 
feet long and 16 feet wide, started about the 20th day 
of March, this same year. 

"This minute is entered to show at a future day the 
first commencement of embarkation in this (as is 
hoped) useful invention. 

"By Henry A. Townsend, 

"Clerk of Steuben County." 

It is shown that many Pennsylvania lumbermen oper- 
ated on the north side of the boundary !ine in the 
State of New York. This was owing to claims of 
Connecticut, settled at the end of 1799. The Royal 
Charter of 1662 gave to Connecticut the New England 
coast south of Massachusetts and west of Rhode Island, 
extending westward to the "South Sea" across the con- 
tinent, including the part of the grant to William Penn 



in 1681, lying- north of the forty-first parallel, north 
latitude. This meant a line through Stroudsburg, 
Hazleton, Catawissa, Clearfield and New Castle — a 
royal heritage of timber, coal, iron and oil, in dispute. 

' When the Capitol at Washington, D. C, was rebuilt 
in 1816, the pine and hardwood lumber, taken down 
the Susquehanna from early saw mills was used. Some 
from New York State and more from Pennsylvania. 
Anson Seymour, of Chenango Forks, New York, had a 
large quantity of seasoned lumber which was stored at 
Baltimore. Government contractors were glad to buy 
largely of him, at good prices, for the new legislative 
halls of the nation. 

Rafting Days Across 

The Atlantic Ocean 



HILADELPHIA is justly renowned for ex- 
cellence and elegance in shipbuilding. None of 
the colonies equalled her ; and, perhaps, no place 
in the world surpassed her in skill and science in this 
matter. At the present day (185T), other cities of the 
Union are approaching her excellence. 

"In early times they constructed at Philadelphia great 
raft ships of much larger dimensions than the late ones 
from Canada, called the "Columbus" and "Baron 
Renfrew," which in the present day are regarded as 

"A little before the War of Independence the last 
raft ship was built and launched at Kensington ; and in 
1774-5 one was built and launched at Slater's wharf, a 
little south of Poole's bridge, and navigated to Europe 
by Captain Newman. Our raft ships were generally 
for sale and use in England, when our timber was plen- 
tiful and cheap. They would carry off 800 logs of 
timber, competent to make six ships of 250 tons each. 
An eye-witness who saw one of these mammoth fabrics 
descend into her destined element said she bent and 



twisted much in launching, but when on the water 
looked to the eye of the beholder much like another 
ship in form. 

"Before the Revolution a raft ship, named the "Baron 
Renfrew" (probably the largest ship ever built, being 
above 5,000 tons and double the measurements of an 
ordinary seventy-four), made her voyage safely to the 
Downs. But the pilots being unwilling to take her into 
the western channel, because of her great draft of 
water, undertook to carry her around the Goodwin 
sands, where they, being unable to' beat up against the 
strong north wind, got her ashore on the French banks, 
near Graveslines, where she was broken up by the 
heavy sea. Nearly all of her cargo was saved. Rafts 
of great size were made of her lumber and towed to 
France and into the River Thames. Some of them 
contained fifteen to twenty thousand cubic feet of tim- 
ber. On top of one of them, which was towed to 
London, was the foremast spar of this mammoth ship, 
a single tree 90 feet in length, a noble specimen of 
American white pine." — From Watson s "Annals of 
1857, Abridged^ 

It should be observed that the foregoing record was 
made before the "Great Eastern" was built, to enable 
Cyrus W. Field to lay the great cable for the Atlantic 
telegraph. While the first "Baron Renfrew" contained 
a million feet board measure of pine timber for lumber, 
the modern log rafts on the Pacific ocean often have 
about eight million feet board measure in each raft. 


For the light it gives on older methods along the 
Delaware, the following from a New York paper of 
March 22, 1885, is of peculiar interest, viz : 

"Dingman^s Ferry, Pike County, Pennsylvania : 
Moses C. V. Shoemaker, of this village, has one of the 
newest houses in Pike County, but its floors are laid 
with what is, doubtless, the oldest manufactured lumber 
in the Union, in actual use for the purpose. These 
boards were made from yellow pine timber. They are 
an inch and a half thick and almost two feet wide. The 
trees from which they were cut were felled along the 
Delaware River at Dingman's in 1723, whip-sawed by 
two men, one in the pit below, one above, ancestors of 
Mr. Shoemaker, and were used in a stone house which 
they built in IT 24, chiefly for the floors. 

"The building served also as a fort, those early set- 
tlers being constantly exposed to Indian raids. The 
ancient structure was demolished in 1884 to make room 
for the new Shoemaker residence. It was in as good 
condition as when first built. There was not an un- 
sound stick of timber in it, and not one which had not 
been in it for 160 years. No lumber like the floor 
boards could be found in any lumber yard of the State 
today, for native yellow pine is now entirely extinct; 
and yellow pine boards, two feet wide and %" thick, 
would almost be worth 'its weight in coin.' 

*'When the floors were taken out of the old stone 
building, a wealthy Philadelphian, who was spending 
the summer at Dingman's, offered Shoemaker a price 
for the boards which would almost have paid for the 



new residence; but Mr. Shoemaker refused to part 
with them at any price, and used them in his new 
house. To all appearances they are good for another 
century and a half. 

"From the timbers of the old stone house more than 
100 pounds of wrought iron nails were taken. They 
were four inches in length, and had evidently been 
made with rude implements. The work of forging 
them must have been done on the spot, as there was no 
place then nearer than the Minisink settlement, near 
the present site of Port Jervis, in Orange County, New 
York, where the nails could have been obtained, and 
that was across the river, twenty miles away." 

Rlvermen Were Carefree 
Lot, Happy in Their Work 


THEY were glad days and free, those days of raft- 
ing on the streams of Pennsylvania. Hardy were 
the men who manned the sweep-oars and worked 
the rafts safely to their destinations at points on the 
lower waters of the stream. 

All in all, the raftmen were a jolly bunch. They 
bantered with the people residing along the stream, 
played jokes on themselves, and when evening came 
the strumming of a banjo or the weird notes of the 
violin in the hands of some backwoods virtuoso could 
be heard over the waters, as well as many backwoods 
songs now almost forgotten. 

From such scraps of news, gathered far and near, 
and from the chants of the men— of rafting men and 
the "hicks" of the woods, rehearsed by their descend- 
ants in song and story — we envisage some of the stir- 
ring drama of the past. 

On the Delaware, a large boat, was a ''galley," and a 
smaller boat was a ''hoy." No doubt a raft of lumber 
or timber was a "hick," and the crews were "hickies ;" 
hence many terms of the old rafting crews linger in 
slang or in poetry. 



On a raft of pine lumber the poet N. P. Willis made 
a voyage down the Susquehanna, absorbing inspiration. 

No doubt, Oliver Wendel Holmes inhaled elixir 
from emanations of the pen of Nathaniel P, WilHs, 
developed from the singing pine trees on the river 
shores of Wyoming and Ontario, the early names for 
the upper Susquehanna forest in northern Pennsyl- 

It is a far cry from Tamenund, the Delaware Chief- 
tain, hunting the wild game in the great forest of 
Tawasentha, to Tammany, his namesake, hunting polit- 
ical game on the other Tawasentha, near Albany, New 
York ; but the Delaware redmen, adopted by the Mo- 
hawks, took along the beautiful name. 

The Hon. Gifford Pinchot has told us in "The Satur- 
day Evening Post" of June 4, 1921, why we must re- 
new the forests of Pennsylvania. Boys, let's go ! For- 
ests are needed in the whole United States, and six per 
cent, of them should crown the highlands of Pennsyl- 
vania Beautiful. 

Now, boys, let us think ! With ice on our heads, our 
feet on the table, calumets burning and pukwana in 
wreaths above us, let us read again what Mr. Pinchot 
has said, and let's learn it. It is all true, even though 
he has soft-pedaled it ! 

We need forests — now ! 'Twill require a hundred 
years for our patches of brush to become forests of real 
trees, suitable for lumber. Let's go ! Pennsylvanians 
have been admired for being a hard-headed people. 
Verily, they are that ! So are we all ! 


In 1873, Governor John F. Hartranft told us to get 
for ourselves new forests. In 1899, Governor Stone 
said the same, and did get our forest legislation, to 
begin getting public brush lands, vi^herever cheap 
enough. Verily, we have hard domes ! 

Governor Sproul said, "Let us plant trees on the 
hills and along the streams." Mr. Pinchot tells us how, 
and why, and everything! It is all true. Four good 
and reliable witnesses have testified during forty-eight 
years. They are agreed as to facts. Boys, let's go ! 

The redmen, whether they be called "Indians" or 
"Amerinds," have been the best foresters on earth. 
Let us get the land and ask our young men to make 
a new forest grow. 

Allegheny River Rafting 
Days and Rafting Tales 


"In distant days of wild romance, of magic, myth and fable, 
When trees could argue, stones advance, and beasts to speak were 

able — 
'Twas then, no doubt, if 'twas at all; but doubts we need not 


The recorded facts of history shall tell the tale : 

WILLIAM PENN inherited from his father, the 
Admiral, a claim of sixteen thousand pounds 
against a crown. No doubt the Admiral was a 
more expert pinochle player than was the old King; 
hence this I O U from His Majesty, Charles I. 

In 1680 William Penn requested King Charles II 
to make payment of this claim in lands in America, 
which request was readily granted. Charles II was a 
good sport. Turning to the wall map of America with 
degrees of latitude laid out in zones from the Atlantic 
indefinitely westward to the southern ocean, and with 
a torn and tattered eastern edge, he exclaimed, ''Odd's 
blood," and tore off a chunk of the map, thirty-ninth 
and forty-second zones inclusive, and five degrees of 
longitude westward from the Delaware River, saying: 
"Take it, and be good to my Indians." 

The redmen owned Pennsylvania until a hundred 




and ten years had ceded away all their claims. Chester 
County extended to the west bounds until Westmore- 
land County was erected at the southwest, and North- 
umberland County was erected in 1772, covering the 
north forest, until Allegheny County was set off in 
1788, the northwest section from the Conewago down 
which flows the water of Chautauqua Lake and Casa- 
daga Creek to the Allegheny. 

Of the forest on the Allegheny River, white pine 
(pinus strobus) was king, and his dusky queen was a 
beautiful cherry, fair as a Queen Alliquippa, of the 

Rafting lumber from Warren County began about 
1800, and it reached its maximum in the decade, 1830 
to 1840. The early history of Warren County abounds 
in very interesting incidents along the larger Allegheny 

After the purchase of Louisiana in 1804, the hardy 
lumbermen decided to extend their markets for pine, 
beyond Pittsburg, Wheeling, Cincinnati and Louisville 
— to go, in fact, to New Orleans with pine and cherry 
lumber. So large boats were built in the winter of 1805 
and 1806 at many mills. Seasoned lumber, of the best 
quality was loaded into the flat boats and they untied 
on April 1, 1806, for the run of 2,000 miles, bordered 
by forests to the river's edge. 

It was in defiance of "All Fools' Day," but they went 
through and sold both lumber and boats. For clear 
pine lumber, $40.00 was the price per 1,000 feet received 
at New Orleans — just double the Pittsburg price at 


that date. For three years thereafter the mills of 
Warren County sent boats to New Orleans loaded with 
lumber, and the men returned on foot. Joseph Mead, 
Abraham Davis and John Watt took boats through in 
1807, coming back via Philadelphia on coastal sailing 

The pilots and men returned by river boats or on 
foot, as best they could. The markets along the Ohio 
from Pittsburg to St. Louis soon took all the lumber 
from the Allegheny mills, and the longer trips were 
gladly discontinued. It was in 1850 that there came 
the first lumber famine at Pittsburg. Owing to the 
low price of lumber and an unfavorable winter for the 
forest work, few rafts of lumber and board timber 
went down the Allegheny on the spring freshets, but 
the November floods brought one hundred rafts that 
sold for more favorable prices than had previously pre- 
vailed. Clear pine lumber sold readily for $18.00, and 
common pine lumber for $9.00 per 1,000 feet. 

The renown of these prices stimulated lumbering on 
the Allegheny headwaters and the larger creeks. So 
the demand for lumber was supplied, and the railroads 
soon began to bring lumber from many saw mills. The 
board timber was hued on four sides, so there was only 
five inches of wane on each of the four corners. These 
rafts of round-square timber were sold by square feet 
to Pittsburg saw mills. 

Rafts of pine boards at headwater mills were made 
up of platforms, 16 feet square and from 18 to 25 
courses thick, 9 pins or "grubs" holding boards in place 


as rafted. Four or five platforms were coupled in 
tandem with 3-feet ''cribs" at each joint, making an 
elastic piece 73 feet or 92 feet long for a 4 or 5-plat- 
form piece, as the case might be, 16 feet wide. 

At Larrabee, or at Millgrove, four of these pieces 
were coupled into a Warren fleet, 33 feet wide, 149 feet 
or 187 feet long. 

Four Warren pieces or fleets were put together at 
Warren to make up a Pittsburg fleet. At Pittsburg 
four or more Pittsburg fleets were coupled to make an 
Ohio River fleet. These became very large, often cov- 
ering nearly two acres of surface containing about 
1,500,000 feet of lumber at Cincinnati or at Louisville. 
They each had a hut for sheltering the men and for 
cooking their food, often running all night on the Ohio. 
To find where the shore was on a very dark night, the 
men would throw potatoes, judging from the sound 
how far away the river bank was and of their safe or 
dangerous position. These men were of rugged bodies 
and of daring minds. 

A small piece, in headwaters and creeks, had an oar 
or sweep at each end of the piece to steer the raft with. 
Each oar usually had two men to pull it. An oar-stem 
was from 28 to 35 feet long, 8 by 8 inches, and tapered 
to 4 by 4 inches, shaved to round handhold near the end 
toward centre of raft. The oar blade was 12, 14 or 16 
feet long, and 18 to 20 inches wide — a pine plank, 4 
inches thick at the oar-stem socket, and 1 inch thick at 
out-end, tapered its whole length. 

There were other sizes of stem and blade, but the 


above indicates the power that guided a raft of lumber 
along the flood-tides, crooked streams, and over a 
dozen mill dams to the broader river belov^. 

From the Allegheny boats of scows, 30 feet long and 
11 feet wide, carried loads of baled hay, butter, eggs 
and other farm produce to the oil fields of Venango 
County in the 60's, sold there and took oil in barrels to 
the refinery at Pittsburg; then sold the scows to carry 
coal or goods down the Ohio. Mr. Westerman built 
five boats at Roulette about 1870, 40 feet long and 12 
feet wide, loaded them with lumber and shingles and 
started for Pittsburg, but the boats were too long for 
the dams and broke up at Burtville, the first dam. 

Much of the pine timber of the west half of Potter 
County was cut in saw-logs and sent to mills at Mill- 
grove and Weston's in log drives down the river and 
Oswayo Creek into the State of New York. The lum- 
ber was shipped via the Genessee Valley Canal to Al- 
bany and New York City and other points on the Hud- 
son River. 

The first steamboat to steam up the river from War- 
ren was in 1830. It was built by Archibald Tanner, 
Warren's first merchant, and David Dick and others of 
Meadville. It was built in Pittsburg. The steamer was 
called Allegheny. It went to Olean, returned and went 
out of commission. 

The late Major D. W. C. James furnished the inci- 
dent of the Allegheny voyage A story was told by 
James Follett regarding the trip of the Allegheny from 
Warren, which illustrates the lack of speed of steam- 



boats on the river at that early day. While the steamer 
was passing the Indian reservation, some twenty-odd 
miles above Warren, the famous chief, Cornplanter, 
paddled his canoe out to the vessel, and actually paddled 
his small craft up' stream and around the Allegheny, 
the old chief giving a vigorous war whoop as he ac- 
complished the proud feat. 

Chief Cornplanter, alias John O'Bail, first took his 
young men to Clarion County, about 1795 to learn the 
method of lumbering, and in 1796 he built a saw mill 
on Jenneseedaga Creek, later named Cornplanter Run, 
in Warren County, and rafted lumber down the Alle- 
gheny to Pittsburg for many years. Many tributary 
streams, such as Clarion, Tionesta, and Oswago, con- 
tributed rafts each year to make up the fleets that 
descended the Allegheny River from 1796 to 1874, our 
rafting days. 

We must mention the Hotel Boyer, on the Duquesne 
Way, on the Allegheny River bank, near the "Point" at 
Pittsburg, where the raftmen and the lumbermen fore- 
gathered, traded, ate and drank together, after each 

Indians were good pilots, but had to be kept sober on 
the rafts. ''Bootleggers" along the river often ran 
boats out to the rafts and relieved the drouthy crews 
by dispensing bottles of "red-eye" from the long tops 
of the boots they wore. 

Forest Lore of Rafting 
Days on the Delaware 


"XVIII : That in clearing said land, care be taken to leave one 
acre of trees for every five acres cleared; especially to preserve 
mulberries and oak for silk and shipping." 

THE above has a modern look, but it was written 
July 11, 1681, in England, by William Penn, before 
he had set foot in his new province of Pennsylva- 
nia, acquired by the King's charter of March 4, 1681, 
in ^'Conditions of Concessions" by him in Pennsylvania 
to the ''adventurers and purchasers" — a sort of com- 
pact between them. 

On September 1, 1682, the proprietor and governor 
of the province sailed on the ship "Welcome" and 
reached New -Castle (now Delaware) on October 27, 
1682, where his cousin, Captain Wilham Markham, 
had been sent the previous year to explore the Delaware 
Hiver and select the best site for a city. On July 30, 
1685, the Indians deeded to William Penn the land 
^'between Pennepack and Chester Creek, and back as 
far as a man can go in two days from a point on Con- 
shohocken Hill," and the same year another deed for 
land backward from the Delaware, "as far as a man 



can ride in two days with a horse." Later many deeds 
for other lands were made. 

The whole province was forested then with white 
pine and other evergreens; with oak and other hard- 
wood trees. 

Michaux, the great French botanist, who traveled ex- 
tensively here during the last decade of the eighteenth 
and the first decade of the nineteenth centuries, found 
our forests still extensive, listing a very great variety of 
trees in his "North American Sylva," most of which he 
found in Pennsylvania of superior size and quality. 
The successors of William Penn were conservative of 
our forests for many years, but finally became destruc- 

As treaties were concluded with the Indian tribes 
along the Delaware River, and deeds signed for addi- 
tional tracts of forest land, saw mills and grist mills 
were established on the tributary streams, where dams 
for water power, or towers for wind power, could be 
cheaply constructed, and lumber or rafts of timber 
were sent down the Delaware to Philadelphia by boats 
and barges. So each tract sold by the redmen was taken 
possession of by the white man, and depots were estab- 
lished for supplies the Indians were learning to use and 
need in exchange for the furs and baskets they were 
anxious to sell to the white men. 

The Swedes and the Dutch had built mills on the 
South River, as the Delaware was then called, in 1662 
and later, and carried on trading with the Indians for a 
score of years before Penn acquired the province on 


west side of the Delaware River; so the Indians had 
learned to use imported goods when Penn came. 

In 1678, Captain Hans Moonson had agreed to build 
a mill at Moonson's Falls, on the Schuylkill, or to per- 
mit another to build the much-needed mill there. In 
1735, Jean Bartolet erected a mill in Berks County, 
near Reading. The ancestors of Daniel Boone lived 
near the Bartolet mill. 

Slowly the operations in the forest extended up the 
Delaware for a century after Penn came, to supply the 
local demand for lumber and a large export trade. At 
Great Bend, in the County of Susquehanna, Josiah 
Stewart had a saw mill in 1787; Samuel Preston at 
Cascade Creek, Wayne County, in 1789 ; Daniel Foster, 
in 1800, in Jessop Township, paid twice for his land, 
as the man he bought of had a Connecticut title only. 
There were a hundred saw mills near the Delaware, 
and the aggregate lumber output was large for many 
years and was sent down in boats and rafts. 

Jesse Dickinson sent the first raft down the West 
Branch of the Delaware in 1788 ; but boats and rafts of 
lumber, from both sides of the main river, had then 
been sent down for about a century. The mills were 
then located on the small streams, in the midst of the 
timber, and circles cut ofif around them. Then the 
mills were moved to another location. They were small 
affairs, but soon became numerous along the whole river 
system. Lumber was cut chiefly in 16- foot lengths 
and rafted in squares, joined together for rafts about 
148 feet wide, 160 long, and 25 courses of boards deep, 

Editor- Author-Raftnian 



containing about 180,000 feet of lumber, and loaded 
with shingles or produce. 

The rafting crews of twelve to eighteen men on each 
raft lived in rough shanties on the rafts, which ran 
about fifty miles a day and tied up to the shore at night. 
Three oars on each side of the raft enabled the men to 
handle their heavy craft. The raftsmen soon developed 
great skill in the manoeuvering to avoid collisions with 
rocks and bridge piers. On the lower Delaware great 
raft-ships, with masts, booms, yard arms and rudder, 
were constructed and sent across the Atlantic under 
canvas — mainsail, staysail, foresail, topsails, jib and 
spanker — to England and France, chiefly. The last of 
them was launched, 1775, at Kensington by Captain 

Gifford Pinchot ran rafts on the Delaware as a 
lad, and his father and grandfather were pioneer 
raftmen of the Delaware. 

Clarion River Was 
Famous Rafting 
Stream of Keystone 


ONE of the famous rafting streams of Pennsyl- 
vania was the Clarion River, for which the 
county was named. Flowing westward, 
through a deep canyon that may yet be a source of 
great electric energy, the river drains portions of the 
counties of Forest, Jefferson and Elk besides Clarion 
county which has the famous Red Bank Creek as 
southern boundary and the i\llegheny for part of its 
western boundary. 

Lumbering began in 1805, when James Laughlin and 
Frederick Miles built a sawmill at the mouth of Piney 
Creek. In 1815, Henry Myers built a mill in Beaver 
Township, and in 1820, one of the first lumber women 
on record, Mrs. Black, erected a sawmill in Elk Town- 
ship. Henry and John Neely, also built a mill that 
year on Alum Rock Run, and Alexander McNaugh- 
ton began on Little Toby Creek. There were mills 
at Reidsburg, on Piney Creek, and in Mill Creek 



In 1822, Thos. Peters, under a special act of the 
Legislature, erected a dam for lumbering purposes 
across the Clarion at the mouth of Turkey Run. This 
act provided for the maintenance of the Clarion River 
as a navigable stream. While the grant was in per- 
petuity it was especially provided, viz ; 

"Said Thos. R. Peters, his heirs and assigns, shall, at all times, 
keep, support and maintain a race or canal at least sixteen feet 
wide, with a lock, or locks, if necessary, the gates of which shall 
not be less than eighty feet apart; which lock or locks shall be 
effectually supplied with water for boat and canoe navigation. 

And provided further. That the said Thos. R. 

Peters, his heirs and assigns, shall construct and maintain a 
slope of at least forty feet wide and two feet below the summit 
level of the dam, over a convenient part of the said dam, for the 
passage of rafts descending the river, and the slope shall have 
an apron or incline four or six feet for every foot of said dam 
above the ordinary level of the water." 

In 1821 John J. Ridgway of Philadelphia, a Quak- 
er, secured a grant of 100,000 acres of land near the 
Clarion River, in the counties of Elk and McKean, 
and soon attempted to establish the town of Mont- 
morency, six miles north of Ridgway. Colonizing 
began strictly as an agricultural proposition; the tim- 
ber was regarded as an incumbrance to the ground. 
The agricultural possibilities were limited and the 
dream of Montmorency became a memory of unsuc- 
cessful endeavor. 

In 1827-8 logging operations began in the vicinity 
of Ridgway, when settlements were inaugurated there. 
It was the beginning of rafting squared or board tim- 
ber down the Clarion and the Allegheny from Elk 
County, to supply the growing city of Pittsburg and 
markets on the Ohio. The logs were hewn on four 
sides, bound into rafts and floated to the markets. 


some going as far as Louisville, Ky. It was alleged 
that the first Ridgway raft of cork pine logs sold at 
Pittsburg for $5.00 a thousand feet, board measure, 
and that half the sum realized was taken in trade, for 
window glass, at that. A log-rule, with a 5-inch hook 
to cover the wane of corners was used. Later, rafts 
were sold by cubic feet content. 

Rafts were made up of from 3,500 to 5,000 cubic feet 
each, from 20 to 24 feet wide and 130 to 150 feet long. 
There are records that pine log rafts of this sort sold 
in 1862, at Pittsburg, for from five to six cents a cubic 
foot. Immediately after the Civil War ended prices 
rose as high as twenty-eight cents a cubic foot for the 

In 1836 Dickinson, Wilmarth and Gillis erected the 
first sawmill at Ridgway, and of course, it was of the 
sash-saw variety of small capacity and uncertain 
working, due to transitory water power. But it was 
the beginning of an industry there which has resulted 
in many fortunes and much lumber history in western 

The original growth of White Pine timber showed 
a stand of 20,000 to 40,000 feet, board measure, to an 
acre, with occasional acres, here and there showing 
more — 100,000 feet in certain places. Much fine 
cherry lumber, oak and poplar, augmented the output 
of pine lumber on the Clarion River. Rafts of pine 



often carried loads of fine finishing stock, clierry, oak, 
ash and poplar. For fifty years hemlock bark for 
tanning and hemlock lumber for building have made 
up much tonnage for the railroad traffic; and rafting 
on the Allegheny is over, though the Tionesta and the 
Clarion sent rafts for nearly a century. 

Recently the Pennsylvania State Forest Commission- 
ers v^ere banqueted by the Community Club of 
Clarion. Among the after-dinner speakers was W. 
Piatt, an old-time raftman, who gave some splendid 
reminiscences of the old days on the river. 

(5 O 0- Q ~Q ® «S ■ ® ® © S 

.. Q g> Q . G) a CO W fO H K 

Believe Last Raft 
Floats Down 
The Clarion River 


ROBABLY the last raft to float down the Clarion 
river made the trip in December 1921, carrying 
3000 feet of lumber and a number of doors. It 
left Clarington at 8.30 in the morning and was moored 
up at a bridge in Clarion at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, 
thus making the thirty-five miles in six and a half 
hour, or, at the rate of more than five miles an hour. 

The raft was in charge of James V. Cassatt, one of 
the oldest living pilots on the Clarion river. This 
stream was used extensively for rafting in the palmy 
days of the lumber industry in Clarion County, but 
with the disappearance of the timber rafting has vir- 
tually ceased. Probably within a year that part of the 
river traversed by the raft the other day will have be- 
come part of the proposed hydro-electric dam, hence 
the statement that this raft was likely the last ever to 
make the trip down the river. 

Other famous Clarion River 'pilots" who are still liv- 
ing are Morris Kuhn, of Clarington, and Lee Carson, 
of Clarion. Mr. Kuhn, according to District Forester 
C. E. Zerbv, took the last laree barge of lumber to 
Pittsburg from Clarington. 


Bubbles on Water Good 
Sign of Rafting Time 


By M. J. COLC OKD, Coudersport, Pa. 

OYS look at the bubbles on the water. We're 
going to have a flood !" It was raining hard 
that April day and the old man Burfield was 
watching the water with eyes that held the experience 
of fifty years, while the timber rafts of his stalwart 
sons lay in the low water along the shore all ready 
for the freshet that seldom failed to furnish the high- 
way to market when the heavy snows of the Sinne- 
mahoning watershed melted in April. 

The writer was a lad of sixteen and had come with 
his parents the previous year to live in that wonderful 
house of the lumberman, the First Fork of the Sinne- 
mahoning. It was to him a revelation of thriUing ac- 
tivities, especially in rafting time. Then the hard 
work of the winter was over. At the mouth of nearly 
every "run" along the Sinnemahoning was a landing 
piled high with white slippery pine logs, arranged in 
skidded tiers, ready to be rolled into the flood as soon 
as the stage of water justified "breaking the landings." 
When the water rose, angry and discolored, the drive 
started and logs ran thick and fast on its surging 



bosom, bumping and thumping those piled on the heads 
of islands or caught by huge trees, partly uprooted 
along the shore. This was exciting to the boy, and 
the memory of those batteaux, filled with hardy log- 
drivers, their boots bristling with sharp spikes and 
armed with peveys, carrying the "jam-crackers" point 
to point, is fresh and vivid in his mind after the lapse 
of fifty years. It was a scene that fascinated him and 
a few years later he took a hand in the dangerous work 
becoming an expert in poling a boat along the turbu- 
lent stream and cracking jams with the best of them. 

But I started to write of rafting, a lost art now, but 
once the chief mode of getting timber, shingles and 
lumber to market on the Susquehanna River, an im- 
portant tributary to the West Branch of that noble 
river being the Sinnemahoning. 

This swift, and at flood time, turbulent feeder of 
the West Branch rises to the south of Coudersport in 
Potter County and empties into the West Branch at 
Keating Station on the B. & E. Railroad, a distance of 
some fifty miles down a valley narrowed by moun- 
tains of rugged grandeur and once covered with stately 
white pine, the like of which will never again be seen 
in this section, with hemlock, oak. chestnut, and maple 
interspersed among the loftier and more highly prized 
virgin pine. 

While the logging was done mostly by jobbers for 
owners of large tracts, chief of which was the firm of 
Phelps and Dodge, of New York, square timber, 
shingles and sawed lumber were gotten out and run 

Born in 1838 


down the river by settlers along the valley who found 
their small farms insufficient to supply them with the 
necessities of life. 

Even pine timber was v/orth but little on the stump 
and the early settlers ''helped themselves" to trees for 
shingles and square timber, or lumbered on small lots 
contracted at a nominal price so that the "raw ma- 
terial" counted but little in the cost of the out-put. 

Mills were built at various points along the stream, 
large overshot water-wheels furnishing the power and 
the handiest trees along the banks or a neighboring 
hill furnished the logs for sawing. Timber was too 
cheap to demand any economy in sawing and the waste 
apparent along the shores below the mills, would be 
appalling today. Thick slabs, edgings and cull lumber 
floated from the mill piling high on every headland, 
affording abundant material for footrafts to carry the 
venturesome boy or the lazy traveler down the stream. 
These abundant drift-piles also provided farmers with 
much of their fuel and fencing. 

But again I have digressed imd return to my theme 
of rafting. 

The construction of the board rafts was much the 
same as on the Allegheny and other rivers, and while 
quite primitive is somewhat difficult to describe. Three 
narrow planks ''runners" chamfered at the ends with 
white oak "grubs," inserted at the ends and middle 
of each, were laid for the bottom of each .platform. 
A layer of boards across these w^as followed by an- 
other layer lengthwise, and so on until the platform 


was of the proper thickness. Three hinge-boards ex- 
tended half their length on to the next platform, 
through which hinges the "grub stakes" passed and 
thus the long string of platforms made up the raft, 
flexible, but strong. On top of the platform binders 
were winched down and fastened on the ''grubs," 
which extended up through all the layers of boards. 
At each end a head block supported a huge oar, with 
a tapering stem hewed from a small pine tree. Into 
which a sawed oar blade was mortised at the larger 
end. A mortise at just the right place to make it bal- 
ance was slipped over the oar pin, hanging the oars 
being the last work to be done before "tying loose" 
for the trip down the river. These rafts were gener- 
ally run to Mariena or Havre de Grace, near the 
mouth of the Susquehanna, in fleets of four such 
**pieces" or half-rafts such as could be run out of the 
crooked, and narrow Sinnemahoning. 

Sometimes the lumber was loaded into ''arks" as 
were also the shaved shingles. The ark was about 
90 feet long and made water tight by planking the 
bottom while the sills were laid bottom side up over 
timbers so as to bow up the middle^ then calked and 
turned over flat before the sides were built. That 
closed the calked seams of the bottom. They were 
steered with oars at the ends, the same as rafts, but 
were clumsy crafts to handle. 

The shingles referred to were rived and shaved by 
hand, 26 inches long, that length being preferred by 
the Pennsylvania Dutch down the river. They were 


loaded loose in the ark and sold by count, regardless 
of width. 

But the king of the river craft was the square timber 
raft. The manner of its construction was crude, but 
effective. The platforms of square timber consisted 
of some sixteen sticks, hewed straight on their sides 
so they would lit closely, but on top and bottom the 
sticks conformed to the shape of the tree from which 
they were made. The sticks of timber were put in 
the water belly down, so that the ends of the platform 
were somewhat higher than its middle. The platforms 
were generally 32, 40 or 50 feet long and three of these 
platforms, end to end, constituted a "half-raft" or 
''piece," suitable for running out of the First Fork. 
At the mouth of that stream two of these "pieces" 
were coupled end to end and below Lock Haven two 
of these rafts were joined side by side for a "fleet." 

In the construction of a timber raft, lash-poles, 
bows, pins, augers and pole-axes were all the imple- 
ments needed, until it came to making the oars. The 
lash-poles, generally of yellow birch, ironwood or other 
tough saplings, from two to four inches in diameter, 
were fastened across each end of the platforms, with 
white oak bows inserted into holes bored on each side 
of the poles and drawn down tight with square pins 
driven alongside the ends into the holes. These holes 
were bored with an inch and a quarter auger, about 
four feet long, with a, crank-shaft near the top, so that 
the raftman could operate it standing. Each end of a 
timber stick was held by two bows and an extra short 


pole was used to hold the ends of the "hinge sticks," 
three of which extended some seven or eight feet into 
the next platform. 

Oars at each end of a raft were hung, similar to 
those described for a board raft, and to handle these 
oars, as pilot or steersman and to skillfully know the 
"lead of water" and the safe channel, became the dear- 
est ambition of the old settler on the "Sinnemahone." 
To run out of the First Fork, three or four men (ac- 
cording to the "heft" of the "piece") were required 
to man each oar, the pilot on the front- end and the 
steersman on the rear handling or "carrying" the oar, 
while his helpers made the sweep across the raft by 
pushing with their hands above their heads. Som.e- 
times they would lift the pilot off his feet, but it was 
his job to dip the oar and then with his handhold on 
the tip of the stem, to hold it' down to the proper level. 

From the moment the raft was "tied loose" at its 
mooring far up the Fork utitil it was landed by snub- 
birig in Shaffer's Eddy, there was plenty of excitement, 
very few moments to rest and no little danger. Often 
the' pilot would fail to run close enough to the bank 
in rounding a sharp bend in the stream, or the steers- 
man would hold the rear end too close to the point, 
the result being a "stove" raft, the crew being unable 
to turn the heavy, swift running leviathan in time to 
clear the rocklined shore, against which the rough 
waters plunged the raft to its destruction. The crew 
was lucky then to save themselves by swimming or 
riding loose timber sticks to some quieter landing 

A Famous Raftman of tli© Loyalsock 


place below. Not a few laftsmen lost their lives in 
those perilous days. 

Sometimes a pilot would dip his oar into the edge 
of an eddy, when one or more of the crew would be 
swept off into the water. I remember hearing John 
\^anatta relate how he pulled \lctor Jackson back on 
the raft, after the latter had been knocked into the 
water by a backward sweep of the oar. 

Ayers was drowned at almost exactly the same place 
(mouth of Norcross Run) in the same manner that 
nearly cost Jackson his life. 

An added danger on a board raft was the buckling 
of the short platforms (generally sixteen feet long) 
when the raft "stove." James Ouimby, of Homer 
Township, was caught in that way near Elk Lick 
bridge in Wharton, carried under water, and lost his 

Of the particularly dangerous places along the First 
Fork, might be mentioned: Rattlesnake, Rocky Riffle, 
Short Bend, Mollie's Slide, and Pepper Hill. At each 
of these perilous points the stream met the rocky shore 
of the steep mountainside, with a sharp turn, where 
but for the fact that a timber raft runs 'headway," 
(that is, runs faster than the current) and can be 
headed across the current at the upper end of the bend 
nothing could save the raft from being thrown against 
the rocks and "stove." Floyd's Rocks was also a dan- 
gerous proposition, where boulders left but one nar- 
row, swift channel that demanded cjuick work and 
unerring judgment. 


Every season some changes in the channel would 
appear in the Fork, as well as in the great river below, 
and woe betide the pilot who started out of the creek 
ignorant of these changes, the problems presented 
anew each year being as complex and as perplexing as 
those encountered by Mark Twain on the Mississippi. 

Among the pioneer watermen of the Sinnemahon- 
ing, may be mentioned : John and Bill Jordan, John 
and Tom Mahon, Columbus Rees, Adam Logue, Cyr- 
enus Wykoff, John Lorshbaugh, and John Mason. 

Pioneer John Burfield and all his dozen stalwart 
sons were safe and skillful watermen, while the Wy- 
kofi* boys were dare-devils with a raft. 

Most of these, even the younger ones, have now 
passed to the great Beyond, leaving few to tell the tale 
of those thrilling adventures or leave a record of the 
lost art of running rafts. Wherefore, if these imper- 
fect glimpses of life on the Sinnamahoning shall serve 
to entertain or enlighten the generations to come, who 
can never know from actual experience, I am content. 


Running Arks on the 
Famous Karoondinha 

By A. D. KAKSTETTEK, Loganton, I'a. 

IN the early days of Penn's Valley Daniel Karstet- 
ter, the pioneer blacksmith of Sugar Valley, re- 
lated to his grandsons how the farm work 
in those days was done. The ploughing was done 
with oxen and horses; the better class had horses. 
The harvesting was done by means of sickles. The 
farmers would go together and help each other. 
They would commence at one farm. Usually there 
were from 25 to 30 men and women. The women 
were as proficient with the sickle as the men. Two 
sicklers cut together, one on each side, the one on the 
right side laid the grain with the butts toward his 
partner, and the one on the left laid the head toward 
the left, thus forming a sheaf that required four 
handsful of grain for one sheaf. It was the custom 
in those days to go to work with the rising of the sun 
without breakfast. They would work until 7 A. M. 
when they would retire for breakfast. The company 
would make their toilet usually at a large watering 
trough where it often happened that one or more re- 
ceived an immersion at the hands of the sturdy farm 



lads and lassies after which the good women of the 
house would announce the time for partaking of the 

The custom in those days was for the farmer for 
whom they Avorked to bring out the "shnops" which 
was pure rye whiskey. It usually was a large round 
bellied quart bottle of which all partook before eating 
their breakfast. After they resumed their work at 
harvesting, they worked until 10 o'clock when a fair 
lassie would come out into the field with a lunch which 
consisted of dried venison that had been smoked and 
cured, and had been provided for during the preced- 
ing winter. 

These sturdy hunters procured the venison for just 
such occasions. The lunch consisted also of pies and 
cakes and rye bread baked on the hearth of the old- 
time bake oven. The pies were baked on a cabbage 
leaf to give them added flavor which process was also 
used in the bread baking. In those clays the wild 
pigeons were very plentiful, and during the fall they 
either shot or trapped large numbers of these birds, 
took the breasts and salted them and afterward 
smoked them. They were eaten with the forenoon 
lunch and were considered much better than our dried 
beef. These breasts of the pigeons were packed in 
home-made stave and wooden hoop barrels. It was 
the custom in those days to have the cooper come to 
the house in the winter months and make what barrels 
the farmer needed. The shoemaker would also come 
to the house and make the shoes and boots for the 



farmer and family out of the hides of deer and steers 
that had been tanned by some man of the settlement. 
In the good old-fashioned way each member of the 
family received but one pair of shoes or boots a year 
and the buck skin was also used for making trousers 
for the man of the house to be used during the harvest 
season. These trousers were worn when the wheat 
was moved into the barn. Tlie man who moved the 
grain had on a pair of these trousers. Each sheaf of 
wheat was placed and the mower would get on liis 
right knee and press it into position. That was a 
trade in itself. In those days the men usually did the 
mowing for the whole settlement. Flax was raised 
and went through the various processes of manufac- 
ture until it was ready for the spinning wheel. 

The women folks would spin the flax during the 
winter months and weave it into cloth that was used 
for towels, chaff ticks, and clothing. Here likewise 
the tailor would come to the home and make what 
clothing the men folks would need for the year. He 
would go from one settler to the other and make the 
clothing for the men. The women folks made their 
own clothing. Sheep were also raised for wool from 
which yarn was spun by tiie women, ii was a hard 
matter in those days to raise sheep on account of the 
mountain prowling wolves, who were a menace to the 
early settlers. After the sheep were sheared the wool 
was washed, dried, and rinsed, then dried until the 
sun had thoroughly bleached it and it was clean. It 
was then picked by hand after which it was spun into 


yarn and then woven into cloth for shirts for the men 
and petticoats for the women and also for dresses. 

The yarn was used for stockings which were knit 
by the women folks during the winter months, while 
the men were engaged in threshing the summer crops 
of grain, a very slow process. There was no threshing 
machine in those days. The grain was placed on the 
threshing floor and tramped out with horses. The 
boys had to ride the horses and made them move 
around in a circle until the grain was tramped out of 
the heads that had been placed on the floor. It usually 
took from one and one-half to two hours after which 
the old-fashioned shaking fork was used to shake the 
grain out of the straw and this was run over a home- 
made fanning mill to clean the wheat, after which the 
year's supply of wdieat flour was made at the grist 
mill above the Blue Rock, now called Meyer's Mill, on 
Pine Creek. 

The surplus wheat was also ground into flour and 
barreled in home-made wooden barrels ready for ship- 

Leonard Karstetter, father of Daniel Karstetter 
and Johnny Strahan, residents of "The Forks" now 
Coburn, built large arks towards spring in which to 
transport the flour to Selinsgrove by w^ay of Karocn- 
dinha, now called Penn's Creek. These arks were 
made of flrst-class timber. Air. Karstetter was the 
owner of the first saw mill on Penn's Creek. 

The floor of the ark was made of hewed timber and 
was packed with tar and pitch so that it was perfectly 


water-tight. The sides were made in the same man- 
ner and were roofed with boards, and in the spring 
when the freshet came, these arks were manned by a 
pilot, a steersman, and a bowsman, and were put afloat 
and proceeded on their way to Selinsgrove. When 
the arks came through the Seven Mountains an old 
lady kept a restaurant where she sold the arksmen 
old-fashioned ginger bread and small beer. That was 
their first stopping place on their way, being the noon 

The trip to Selinsgrove from ''The Forks" was 
made in one day. The arks were sold there and the 
flour and the arks were then manned by other crews 
and proceeded to [Philadelphia. The arksmen who had 
taken the arks from Coburn to Selinsgrove then re- 
turned by night through the Seven Mountains, ready 
for another trip so that these fleets of arks might be 
dispatched while the freshet lasted. That was their 
only outlet to the market with their grain. These men 
often encountered wolves and panthers on the return 
trip, but they were of a sturdy character and were 
ready for any attack. 

Rye was also raised and threshed by the crude pro- 
cess. A quantity, about ten bushels, was sent to the 
aforesaid mill to be ground into chafl^ and that was 
taken to the Stover Distillery above Coburn on Penn's 
Creek where the year's supply of old rye (32 gallons) 
was distilled and rolled into the cellar where it was 
on tap for all the family and the guests. It was con- 
sidered an outrage when a man got drunk. It was 


not the intention of the settlers to spree but was used 
moderately. Thus were the days spent by the old 
settlers. Their time was occupied in good, useful, 
employment. The land was cleared and gotten under 
cidtivation and made to yield a livelihood for these 
sturdy pioneer settlers of "The Forks," now Coburn, 
Centre County. As handed down by Daniel Karstet- 
ter, the Pioneer Blacksmitli of Sugar Valley, whiskey 
in those days was three cents a glass. 

Famous West Branch Pilot (1821-1911) 

Tionesta Rafting 
Days and Later 
Forest Conditions 


PREVIOUS to 1S50, the Tionesta Creek or river 
became an important tributary to the Allegheny 
River fleets of pine, cherry, ash and oak lumber 
that supplied Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Louisville and many 
other points on the Ohio River. The saw mills were 
then located on the main stream, of which our data is 
ver\' meagre previous to IS 82. The Tionesta and its 
many tributaries were the chief highways for the Forest 
County lumber products — the most important of the 
creeks that flow into the Allegheny River. It is a swift 
stream that cuts its way through the hills, which might 
properly be styled mountains, along its entire course. 

The chief small streams tributary to the Tionesta 
from both sides are : Blue jay Creek, Upper Sheriff 
River. Low Sheriff* River, Fool's Creek, Logan Run, 
Phelps Run, Bobbs Creek, Salmon Creek. Lamentation 
Creek. Bear Creek, Ross Run, Jug Handle Creek. Little 
Coon Creek. Big Coon Creek, and John's Rim. There 
are many other creeks of prime importance flowing into 


the great Tionesta Creek. In 1882 the conditions are 
noted as follows : Twenty miles up the Tionesta, near 
Balltown the large saw mill of F. Henry & Co.; the 
Buck Mill, three miles below at the mouth of Salmon 
Creek; the hemlock bark extract factory of Major 
W. W. Kellett & Co., of Boston, Massachusetts; the 
Salmon Creek Lumber Company, up Salmon Creek 
about a mile, noted for hemlock, ash and cherry lumber, 
owning eighty thousand acres of heavily timbered land. 

Below are the Newton mills cutting white pine lum- 
ber, chiefly owned and operated by Wheeler, Dusenbury 
& Co., which have been operating there since about 
1842. They have extensive tracts— 110,000 to 120,000 
acres — of pine, hemlock and hardwood timber along the 
Tionesta and tributary streams. The Nebraska mills, 
owned by T. D. Collins, six miles from the mouth of 
the Tionesta, where Mr. Collins builds many commo- 
dious and staunch barges for the coal trade along the 
Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, a new and important in- 
dustry which steadily increases in extent and profit. 

At Oldtown and other points on the Tionesta, flat- 
boats and barges are built each year for river transpor- 
tation. Besides, many operators are engaged in getting 
out square timber which is bound into rafts which float 
to markets farther down or to saw mills at Pittsburg, 
being suitable for large buildings, bridges and railroad 
requirements. Numerous people along the various 
streams are engaged in this industry now (1882), and 
they will continue to be. 

Among the other mills are those of Gibson & Grove at 


Low Sheriff River; of Dr. Fowler, on Salmon Creek, 
who does a heavy business in ash and cherry luml)er ; 
Hunt and Red Brush Mills of Root & Watson, which 
cut and raft pine lumber down the Tionesta annually ; 
the Shipe mill on Salmon Creek ; the Russell mill ; the 
Lawrence and Dale mill on Lamentation Creek ; the 
mill of John Sheasly on little Coon Creek; Ford & 
Lacey on Coon Creek, and many other mills cut all 
classes of lumber the year round for many markets. 

The Tionesta and its tributaries in 1882 were lined 
with heavy timber, extending far back into the high- 
lands, the evergreen trees all the way to the Sinnema- 
honing, 100 miles east of the Tionesta. This ''Eastern 
Forest in the counties of Forest, Clarion, Warren, Elk, 
McKean and Potter contains a body of hemlock timber 
of gigantic growth, the very largest of the kind in the 
world. There is nothing to compare with it in Russia, 
British America or the islands of the seas." 

That statement was literally and actually true in 1880. 
There was no such continuous body of giant hemlocks 
on the face of the earth. The finest of all hemlock then 
lay in the Tionesta valley and through the channel found 
its way to the markets for tanbark and lumber. The 
writer saw it in 1882, and again in 1904, when only a 
small part of it was left. Forest County contains 430 
square miles, 275,840 acres, half of which was in the 
Tionesta Valley. The lumber went down the valley in 
the rafts and barges, or later via railroad. 

There was a billion feet of hemlock; 300,000,000 feet 
feet of pine and 200,000,000 feet of oak, ash and cherry 


lumber measured in board feet, to say nothing of the 
600,000 tons of hemlock bark that supplied the tanneries 
and the extract factories the necessary bark that made 
sole leather. 

Two billion feet, board measure, of lumber, when we 
add the maple, birch and beech lumber cut in later years. 
And from approximately only 138,000 acres of rocky 
and hilly land, on a turbulent creek ! Truly the forests 
of Pennsylvania were of great value, even when the 
whole east of this continent had timber to sell. And 
now, with our population of more than a hundred mil- 
lion people, expansion of trade and half the forests of 
this continent destroyed, it behooves us to look toward 
to the future and restore some of the forest wealth to 
Pennsylvania that .300 years of lumbering and exploita- 
tion have depleted for the use of mankind, the whole 
world over. 

The last generation of forest exploitation, in the 
great forest of the counties of McKean and Potter, saw 
many changes in the methods of carrying on the busi- 
ness by the progressive operators and their allies, the 
tanners. It became a fight against Time and the in- 
creasing fire risk, as the forests became more exposed 
to the fiends of destruction that thrived upon the debris 
of all the wastelands that increased each year. The 
water power of earlier times was replaced by steam 
engines, and roads of iron rails threaded the forest 
lands. Locomotives hauled the timber to mills of en- 
larged capacity that were lighted up for ilight sawing. 

In McKean County were many great firms and cor- 

KOBKKT C. <il KKil.K 

Famed Pilot (1830-1910) 


porations at work, of which the following were typical : 
Elisha Kent Kane, at the head of the Kinzua Creek, 
with a mill and twenty miles of railroad; Spencer S. 
Bullis, with a dozen mills along fifty miles of railroad 
that wound through vales and along many hillsides, to 
gather in the logs cut from 50,000 acres of land ; Arnold 
Dolley and Rowley, with two saw mills and streams im- 
proved for great log drives, and a hundred other firms. 
In Potter County there were a dozen smaller firms, and 
the Lackawanna Lumber Company at Mina and Cross 
Forks ; the great Goodyear Lumber Company at /\ustin 
and Galeton, with railroad between. 

Frank Henry Goodyear originated and organized 
a great lumber business in Pennsylvania. Charles 
W. Goodyear, his brother, was formerly a lawyer of 
Bufifalo, New York, a member of a firm known as Fol- 
som, Cleveland and Goodyear. It was in 1*88^ that the 
Goodyears went down into Austin-Galeton section of 
Potter County and bought miles upon miles of hemlock 
and hardwood timber land along the Sinnemahoning, 
Pine and Kettle Creeks. They bought right and left 
tracts which lay miles from the larger streams, and built 
railroads over the mountains and along the valleys to 
operate with. 

They built saw mills at the threshold of the forest, 
electrically lighted them and kept them running, both 
day and night, the year around. The hum of their in- 



dustry re-echoed along the corridors of the forest for 
twenty-seven years, until the flood from a broken dam 
swept Austin and the mills away, although Frank Henry 
Goodyear died on May 13, 1907, and his brother fol- 
lowed him about six years later. Their sons finished 
their work. 

Two Hundred Billion 
Board Feet of Fine 
Lumber in Heydey 


THE historian must approach in trepidation the 
sokition of the query of "How much white pine 
lumber was made from the Pennsylvania forest 
during the two centuries of the great exploitation of the 
product of that unsurpassed protege of Mother Na- 
ture ?" 

Reliable statistics are few for that romantic period. 
None are complete, yet the human mind seeks to ap- 
proximate, in some manner, the stupendous aggregate 
from the four great river highways, the Delaware, 
North Branch and West Branch of the Susquehanna 
and tributaries, and the Allegheny River system, com- 
prehending the four chief divisions of the Pennsylvania 
pine forest. 

From, records of the Susquehanna Boom Company 
at Williamsport we learn that during the active years, 
1868 and 1906, inclusive, the pine sawlogs from the 
West Branch, which the Company passed and stored, 
exceeded eight billion feet board measure. So if we con- 



elude that to have been sixteen per cent, of the whole, 
we attain a total of fifty billion feet of white pine lum- 
ber from the State, by river, canal and railroad trans- 
portation routes. 

However unsatisfying that may be, we feel certain 
that it is conservative. All of the men who ventured 
opinions on the quantities of hemlock timber during the 
earlier periods in the various sections of the State, con- 
cluded that it equalled at least the original quantity of 
pine timber in the same sections, however far below the 
above figure their approximates then were. We now 
feel assured that at least fifty billion feet board measure 
of hemlock lumber have been manufactured from our 
State forest, so the two varieties of lumber, hemlock 
and pine, check and balance harmoniously with those 
early opinions, whatever value we may grant to them. 
If we now concede that the products from the deciduous 
trees of the commonwealth have been equal to those 
from the conifers, we shall have a gross product from 
our forests of two hundred billion board feet of lumber, 
which is an astounding quantity to think of or to write 

One needs a peavey lever or an axe to manipulate the 
thought of it. 

Feeling funereal for the slaughtered trees, one may 
yet pray for a glorious resurrection in the New Forest 
that our Forestry Department shall create to recompense 
Great Mother Nature ! 

It has been objected that the logs of hemlock timber 
were boomed at Williamsport and the other saw mill 




points along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, 
during the latter twenty-five years of the Boom Com- 
pany's records, which are included in the total amount 
of eight billion board feet. That is very true, but a large 
quantity of white pine timber, during the same years, 
passed down the West Branch, not included in the 
record of sawlogs, and great shipments of white pine 
lumber went forward from the numberless saw mills 
located on tributary streams beyond the operations of 
the Susquehanna Boom Company, also not embraced in 
the amount recorded, and quite sufficient to offset the 
hemlock logs included in the records. 

W' hether more or less than the estimated quantity of 
white pine timber was the yield from the lands of the 
State, it was a princely endowment, and much appre- 
ciated by the struggling pioneers who wrested a rich 
Commonwealth from a wilderness of trees, aided by 
sales of white pine lumber. 

The "desert of five million acres" remains a mute 
witness of the former great forest. Suppression of the 
forest fires and the planting of many trees may yet 
reclaim the waste places and so restore to our posterity 
the heritage that we received from the Source of earth- 
ly prosperity and eternal beauty. 

As Minerva sprang full-fledged from the brow of 
Jove, so Rome sprang upon the banks of the Tiber, a 
few miles from its junction with the Anio, full grown 
on the plains of Etruria and Latium, where they meet 
beneath the Sabine Mountains; and so the lumber in- 
dustry of Pennsylvania sprang upon the banks of the 


Delaware River, in the States of Pennsylvania, New- 
Jersey and Delaware, in the seventeenth century. It 
was begun by the Swedes, 1635, continued by the Dutch 
a few years, and by the English, under William Penn 
and his successors, until 1775, at the beginning of the 
Revolutionary War. Most of the product was exported 
to European markets. 

After the war ended, the Commonwealth made fur- 
ther exploitation of the great pine forest. As the 
Roman legions went forth to light their neighbors, 
Sabine, Latin and Etruscan, returning with great 
droves of slaves to sell in the Roman market, so our 
young men went into the forest each autumn, along the 
Delaware, Susquehanna and West Branch, crusading 
for white pine timber, returning in the spring on rafts 
of timber for Philadelphia and other markets. They 
were soldiers of commerce, but no laurel wreaths gar- 
landed their brows for their heroic services, as the citi- 
zens of Rome decorated their returned heroes after 
each foray. 

In 1779, General Sulivan proceeded up the North 
Branch of the Susquehanna with his army to chastise 
the Indians and their Tory allies, then gathered around 
Newtown (Elmira, N. Y.), on the Chemung River. 
Near the State line he built Fort Sullivan and awaited 
the arrival of General James Clinton, who marched 
from Albany, N. Y., via Lake Otsego, with an army in 
support of General Sullivan's expedition. In the au- 
tumn they destroyed Newtown, after a battle that 
scattered the people, and then marched to the Genessee 


River, destroyed the Long House of the Seneca Nation 
and drove all the Indians southward into Pennsylvania. 

In support of this latter expedition, Colonel Daniel 
Brodhead, with a regiment of soldiers, had marched up 
the Allegheny from Pittsburg to the confluence of 
Kinzua Creek. There a battalion went via Kane and 
Johnsonburg to the West Branch, and Colonel Brod- 
head went up the Allegheny and Oswayo to the present 
site of Ceres at the state line; thence southeasterly 
through Potter County to Jersey Shore, on the West 
Branch, opposite the site of Fort Antes, to mark, by 
roads through the forest, an asylum for the starving 
Indian refugees who had been driven from their homes 
in the State of New York. So the great pine forests 
were seen by white men, and soon after they were sold 
for exploitation. 

As ancient Rome had no glorious infancy, with its 
brooding calm and orderly progress to a thoughtful ma- 
turity, so when she became decadent and was sinking 
to the final chapter of her former greatness and glo- 
rious positions in the world, she had no loving friend to 
bow down by her couch, whisper words of consolation 
and the hope of a glorious future, and to close her 
dying eyes with gentle fingers. With no hope of a 
resurrection her greatness was despoiled by barbarian 
and vandal. She had ruled by the sword, and by the 
sword she was overwhelmed and cast down. Ancient 
Byzantium, as Constantinople, now ruled in her 
place and received the world's -homage. 

Like Rome, our forest faded away, unwept and un- 


sung by us who were the despoilers ; but a foreign 
voice chanted a requiem for her and prepared for a 
glorious rebirth from his own meagre estate. He was 
the Frenchman, F. Andre Michaux, who had beheld 
our great forest in its pristine beauty and glory. The 
writer, too, has explored much of it, learning the lan- 
guage of the trees, as well as their utility, and heartily 
commends the Frenchman's idealism and his practical 
philanthropy. May we restore our forest to please a 
generous soul ! 

There was renaissance of ancient Rome and a re- 
vitalized Italy was built upon the ruins of the older 
Western Empire that fell in 486, and the Turks cap- 
tured Constantinople and the Eastern Empire, 1453, 
the end of the Middle Ages. The Saracens were ex- 
pelled from Spain in 1492, and Columbus had sailed to 
discover a new world, then hardly dreamed of, ushering 
in modern times and a more hopeful era. 

So the forests of Pennsylvania may be renewed 
during this twentieth century of the Christian era on 
earth. Let us believe so and strive mightily for it. 
Our freight bills on lumber average now about $12.00 
a thousand feet of boards, coming, as they do, from 
north and south and from the far west. 

At first our citizens were dominated by the gloomy 
forest that surrounded them. Then for two centuries 
we exploited the forest for livelihood and profit. In 
this century we dominate the forest and must plant 
trees, protect them from fire and the blight of insect 
destroyers. The birds and the wild animals should be- 



come our cherished alhes for the latter danger and tor 
its mitigation. An open season each year for hunting 
the game hirds and animals brings health and happiness 
to many people, and it creates love and appreciation of 
the tree-covered areas. 

Attention! Forward, March! Hep! Hep! — Tres 
Bien, Monsieur Michaux et Messieurs du Bois 

Sitting under the glittering stars on a mild mid- 
summer night, when they are so clear and large and 
the horizon extends so far, listening, alone, to the soft 
murmur of the great trees in the night breeze, the in- 
sect chorus, the rustle in the foliage and the purl of 
sap flov^ing under the bark, v^e are conscious of that 
sympathetic c'lan or magical ray w^hich gilds and trans- 
forms every emotion of our heart, until the ancient 
forest is restored all around us and the phantom trees 
chant tales of v^hat has been and of v^hat shall be. 

Yes, Mars, wq are caught in that draught from the 
Infinite w^hich makes a sane mind nothing more than a 
reservoir of emotion that unfolds the past, and un- 
folds the pictures of a glorious future w^hen renev^ed 
forests shall materialize in place of the phantom trees 
that are conjured before us, stimulating the mind as 
"Tom and Jerry" — gin and rum — did the drenched 
bodies of shivering lumberjacks and raftmen in the 
freshets of early spring log-driving and rafting days. 

The glorious scroll is unrolled before us, and the 
hills conjured and clothed w^ith pine trees, reincarnated 


by the phantom touch of the mind, intoxicated by emo- 
tion and faith in the future achievements of men, 
aroused to action by Hon. Gififord Pinchot and a de- 
voted band of foresters — a sort of metempsychosis 
brought up to date by practical appHcation, to reclothe 
our naked hills and cause our desert to bloom and pro- 
duce the lumber we shall appreciate more and more 
as the decades flow past and trickle along to the great 
ocean of time that shall be recorded. The new forest 
must first develop as pictures in the minds of many 
people, then upon the ground awaiting to receive the 

Dreams ! Fatuous dreams ! many will say. But 
dreams are full cousins of visions; and vision is what 
is required to have our forests renewed. It is a pro- 
duct of growth or expansion. 

In 1873, Governor Hartranft called for forestry 
preservation, and groves of trees have been saved on 
two hundred thousand farms of Pennsylvania, an 
aggregate of two million acres of trees, and tracts in 
private ownership aggregate as much more timber. 
State and nation have reserved two million acres more 
for forest renewals. Verily our vision expands ! 

In 1899, Governor Stone succeeded in having the 
vision take form in legislation providing for a bureau 
of forestry that soon expanded into a department of 
forestry. The mental pictures were transferred to 
the drafting board. The foundations have been laid 
far and broad. We shall have forests again. Tree- 
covered lands are not all forests, but they may be- 


come so in time. The lay mind does not fully com- 
prehend the difference yet, but development will come 
— it is now on the way. It is a matter of centuries to 
grow a commercial forest. But returns on the invest- 
ment begin early, in the beautiful landscape, in con- 
serving the water supply, in retarding land erosion, 
saving the fertile soil, and many other valuable by- 
products of a forest, including fish birds and animals. 
Many beautiful insects adorn the forest, some use- 
ful and some harmful, as Tsuga Caja, moth-mother of 
the hemlock worm of 1889 and 1890, that did great 
damage to the hemlock forest, and the recent blight 
upon our chestnut groves. Animals and birds destroy 
the insects and so save the trees from the invading 
armies of destroyers. To have forests we must have 
birds and animals to live among the trees and protect 
them from the insects. In pursuit of wild game men 
learn to love the forest and overcome their childish 
fear of bears and terrors that haunt and ennervate 

Some Notable Floods 
Of The Bounding West 
Branch of Susquehanna 


WITH every flood stage of the Susquehanna 
river the minds of the old-time nvermen go 
back to the golden days of the past when 
the stream was the means of transportation of the 
many thousands of feet — yes billions of feet — of logs 
that were cut in the virgin forests all along the stream, 
especially along the headwaters, and which were float- 
ed over the broad bosom of the river to the markets 
in the southern part of the state. Each year we hear 
of the "last raft," and each year one and at times 
several of these rafts pass down the stream, a grim 
reminder of the once busy traffic that predominated 
and made the years boom along the mighty body of 
water famed in song and story because of the early 
history connected with it and because of the fertile 
valleys and snug villages nestled among the sequest- 
ered spots along it. 

The days of the ''last raft" may never become a 
possibility since Pennsylvania, under that wise leader 


Poet and Raftman (1830-1904) 


of conservation, Gifford Pinchot, is learning its lesson 
well and the preservation and conservation of the for- 
ests is being followed out in the proper manner. A 
fine start to preserve and protect the lumber supply 
has been made, yet we must continue in the work. 
Just how near we were to the border line between days 
of many rafts and the "last raft" remains to be seen 
but all of us know that it was dangerously too near. 

Along the banks of the stream from the headquart- 
ers to the mouth the finest kind of lumber grew. The 
river was usually a shallow stream but there were 
times v/hen the river grew wild, losing its placidity 
and it became a raging, toiling, boiling, churning 
waterway, moving along until its waters were lost in 
the Chesapeake Bay. When the river went on such 
a rampage the water swept everything in its path. 

There was a tradition among the early Indians who 
resided along the banks of the stream that a great 
flood occurred every fourteen years at regular inter- 
vals. In these floods, which were classed as more than 
ordinary freshets, the water attained a height not 
equalled on previous occasions. Early settlers found 
this tradition to be verified in many instances. 

There were many floods in the Susqeuhanna river. 
One of the most notable occurred on St. Patrick's 
Day, March, 1865, when the old covered bridge that 
stood at the foot of Market Street, Lewisburg, vras 
swept away with the exception of but one span wdiich 
remained at the Lewisburg end of the structure. 
Other bridges all along the stream were swept away 


from the headwaters of the stream to Northumber- 

The first flood, of which there is any record, oc- 
curred in 1774, the second in 1758, the third in 1772 
and the fourth in 1786. The fifth flood of any account 
occurred in 1800. Another big flood w^as recorded in 

These floods were in the spring of the year and the 
waters, increased by the rains and the melting snows 
on the mountains, raged down the stream carrying 
everything movable in the path. The country being 
sparsely settled at that time, there were but few build- 
ings along the banks of the stream, but the loss v/as 
great nevertheless in those days before the soldiers 
of England had begun to trouble the colonists and 
when the idea of free and independent states was just 
being advanced with energy and determiation. 

In the closing years of the Eighteenth centurv and 
the beginning of the Nineteeth the destruction wrought 
by the high waters was also great and the suffering of 
the settlers along the banks of the stream, equalled 
the sufferings of those along its banks in later years 
when houses were swept away and bridges were torn 
from their piers and sent down in the muddy and 
murky current of the river that was so dear to every 
Red Man's heart. 

In a memorandum on file at Harrisburg, signed by 
Robert Alartin and John Franklin they state that "on 
the 15th of March 1784, the Susc^uehanna rose into a 
flood, exceeding all degrees known before, so sudden 


as to give no time to guard against the mischief, that 
it swept away 150 houses with all provisions, furni- 
ture and farming tools and cattle of the owners and 
gave but little opportunity for the inhabitants to flee 
for their lives. One thousand persons left destitute 
of provisions, clothing and every means of life." 

In almost every instance the floods had a name, usu- 
ally characterized by some particular incident in con- 
nection with them. The flood of 17'84 was called "The 
Ice Flood," because of the enormous amovmt of ice 
that floated down the stream. The winter had been 
unusually severe and the ice was of exceptional thick- 
ness, doing great damage to the trees along the banks 
of the stream as it rushed down with the sweeping 

In 1 THT) the pumpkin crop on the farms along the 
river and its tributaries was an enormous one. The 
yield was so great that the farmers had more pump- 
kins than they could find use for and consequently 
many were left in the fields. Along in October the 
rains descended and the river arose to a great height. 
All the tributary streams were overflowed and the 
lowlands were inundated. This year the flood w^as 
characterized as the "Pumpkin Flood," from the great 
number of yellow pumpkins that were carried down 
on the surface of the flood. 

The winter of 1828-29 was particularly unpleasant. 
Rain fell during the early winter almost daily for sev- 
enty days. Then came a sudden freeze-up with the 
o"reat amount of moisture in the around. The snows 


of the winter were exceptionally deep and spring was 
a month later than usual. Along about the fifth of 
June in this year the weatlier became warm and about 
the middle of the month became warmer than usual 
for the season of the year. This exceptional warm 
spell was followed by a heavy, warm rain. June 28, 
1821), occurred another of the great floods along the 
river and the water at this time arose to a height not 
attained previously, according to all records kept at 
that time. 

March 13, 1846, the river again was at a flood stage. 
Many bridges were carried away. All along the river 
the residents took extra precautions against possible 
damage by the flood which they had been expecting 
for some time and concerning which they were greatly 
alarmed. Nevertheless the water arose so quickly that 
some of the houses were washed away and several 
bridges were either washed down the stream or badly 
damaged. On the evening of October 13, 1846, 
Thomas Follmer and son Henry and William Gundy, 
son of Major John Gundy, who were managing the 
Farmers' Store Company at the mouth of Turtle 
Creek, about two miles south of Lewisburg, where 
Turtle Creek enters the Susquehanna River, were 
drowned at the mouth of the creek. They had gone in 
a boat at 10 o'clock that night to the store house on 
the opposite side of the creek and were returning when 
a dam gave way and their boat struck a timber raft at 
the mouth of the creek. William Gundy's body was 
found in the boat under the raft next day. The bodies 




of the other two unfortunate men were carried down 
the stream and were not found for three weeks. The 
crumbling walls of the store house can be seen today, 
several hundred feet from the mouth of the creek. 
The water at this time reached a higher point at the 
mouth of Turtle Creek than it had ever reached be- 
fore, according to measurements made on the walls of 
Kremer's warehouse at the time. The canal was broken 
by the high water, the mails were stopped, the Milton 
bridge was badly damaged and the bridge over the 
West Branch of the river at Northumberland was 
carried away, as was also the one at Duncan's Island 
and part of the structure at Harrisburg. From Milton 
down more damage was suffered in this flood than any 
other on the headwaters of the stream. 

The great flood which occurred in 1847 was three 
or four feet higher than any previous rise. A number 
of bridges were destroyed and much damage was done. 
Corn which was in shocks in the fields was washed 
down the stream, and the flood was, in some sections, 
called the ''Corn Flood," although the name was not 
as common or general as some of the names given to 
other floods of the stream. 

In April, the old covered bridge at the mouth of 
Buffalo Creek, which flows into Susquehanna River 
at Lewisburg, was removed and a new one was com- 
menced. July 18 and 19 of the same year a severe 
storm raged for over thirty-two hours, and the flood 
that followed was still greater than any previous one. 
Work on the new bridge at the mouth of Buffalo 


Creek had to be stopped, and the structural framework 
was badly damaged, as was also a part of the bridge 
that had been built. Bridges all along the river suf- 
fered, and logs and board timber went floating down 
the river, as did a number of houses. 

The next memorable flood in the Susquehanna River 
occurred on St. Patrick's Day, March, 1865, This 
freshet was caused by the warm southwest wind and 
rain rapidly melting the body of snow and ice, and the 
river became rampant. History shows that for a period 
of one hundred years there was a successive increase 
in the heights of the floods of between three and four 
feet, and some people attribute this to the great amount 
of timber which was being cut. The increases in the 
heights of the various floods came also over the periods 
of between fourteen and eighteen years. One reason 
for the rapid rise in the waters in this St. Patrick's 
Day flood was because of the fact that the winter 
had seen an unusually large number of snows, and the 
snow lay in the mountains to the depth of as much as 
ten feet in some sections. Unusually warm rains and 
unusually warm weather started this mass to melting, 
and the river filled up rapidly as every little stream 
sent its flood waters down into it. The water rose to a 
great height and did great damage all along the river. 

At Williamsport the water attained a height of twen- 
ty-eight feet, and at Lewisburg the water was nearly 
twenty-five feet above the regular level. In this water 
all the bridges between Farrandsville and Northum- 
berland were either carried away or badly damaged by 


the flood. The old covered bridge that stood at the 
foot .of Market Street, Lewisburg, was swept away 
with the exception of but one pier. The bridge was 
built in ISIG. One pier was left standing at the 
Lewisburg end of the bridge. The first teams to cross 
this bridge went over the structure in 1817. After this 
bridge was washed away on the greatest flood the river 
had experienced up to this time, a new subscription 
was taken and of the original members to the new 
bridge, Ellis F. Gundy, J. Foster VanValzah and 
Weidler Roland, all of Lewisburg, have died within 
the i^ast three years. 

The new bridge to which these gentlemen, along with 
many others, had subscribed, was built several hun- 
dred yards north of the old structure. x\t this time 
the Pennsylvania Railroad was extending its lines 
from Montandon to Bellefonte and the new bridge was 
built as a combination wagon and railroad bridge. 
Travel over the bridge grew as the years went by, 
and the population increased. The house, which until 
a few years ago stood at the foot of Market Street, 
Lewisburg, was the original structure, remodeled, that 
stood at the entrance of the old covered bridge wasued 
out in 1865, and it was here that the toll-keeper lived 
when the bridge was operated. In later years, after a 
bridge had been built further up the river, the struc- 
ture was turned into a dwelling house. On the front 
of the old building could be seen the lines of the old 
bridge gateway through which travelers and their 
teams passed before the structure was washed away. 


Across this bridge marched the brave soldier boys 
from Union County on their way to Montandon, then 
called Cameronia, after a well-known resident of Lew- 
isburg, where they boarded the trains for Harrisburg 
and were sworn into the service of their country. 
Many of the brave fellows never returned. The bones 
of some were left to bleach on southern battlefields 
where the only marker to their graves is the green 
grass which nature gives in the springtime, and where 
the only funeral dirge they hear on each recurring 
Memorial Day is the song of birds carrolling sweetly in 
the nearby tree tops. Others of these brave soldier boys 
returned to take up the vocations and occupations they 
left when they responded to their country's call. Those 
who returned have lived to enjoy the full fruition of 
all they did, all they suffered and all they sacrificed, 
and an appreciative public reveres them for their gal- 
lant deeds on many a bullet-riddled and shot-torn bat- 

But the greatest flood of all — a flood that is remem- 
bered by many of the residents all along the river — was 
the memorable flood of June 1, 1889. This flood will 
pass into history as the greatest on the West Branch 
of the Susquehanna River. Rain fell incessantly for 
more than forty-eight hours, and the wind, blowing 
from the southwest, presaged trouble to those who 
resided along the banks of the stream, a stream which 
was a terror when angered by swollen waters. The 
river rose rapidly, and at Williamsport a height of 
thirty-three feet, a number of feet higher than had 


been reached in the flood of 18G5, was attained. The 
height of the water in the river at Lewisburg, when the 
Susquehanna is at flood stage, is from two to four feet 
lower than at Wilhamsport, because the river is wider 
at Lewisburg than at Wilhamsport. 

The water in the river at Lewisburg at the time of 
the flood of 1889 was nearly twenty-eight feet, much 
higher than in the previous flood that had swept away 
the old covered wooden bridge at the foot of Market 
Street there. Three-fourths of Lock Haven, Williams- 
port, Jersey Shore, Milton and Sunbury, and a goodly 
portion of Lewisburg, as well as many other towns 
along the stream, were inundated, the water reaching 
from three to ten feet in some of the houses in these 
towns. The bridges along the river from Keating to 
Northumberland were either carried away or damaged 
so badly that it recjuired several months of hard labor 
to right things. 

The old covered bridge that stood at the present site 
of the railroad bridge at Lewisburg was one of the 
bridges badly damaged Ijy the flood when five spans of 
it were washed away. A train of cars loaded with 
pig iron and coal was run into the bridge with the hope 
that it would weight it down, but the waters proved 
too strong, and part of the bridge was carried away, 
and the pig iron and coal train fell into the river. 

The Wilhamsport boom broke and 150,000,000 feet 
of logs were carried away, besides great quantities of 
manufactured lumber. The logs floated down the river 
before the five spans of the bridge at Lewisburg were 


washed away, and the logs, impelled by a force that 
only a maddened river can give, crashed through the 
wooden sides of the bridge as though the walls were 
nothing more than paper. A number of residents of 
Lewisburg, as well as other towns along the river, 
busied themselves in capturing this "runaway" lumber, 
and several of these men made a considerable sum when 
the lumber was gathered in again by the owners from 
whom it had escaped. 

The losses to the people of the West Branch were 
enormous, being roughly estimated at from $25,000,000 
to $30,000,000. Great suffering was caused and a large 
relief fund had to be raised to alleviate the suffering of 
the destitute residents along the banks of the river. 
Upwards of fifty lives were lost in the valley, and the 
farms and crops in many instances were ruined. 

Horses, houses, saw mills, lumber, crops and all 
manner of material were carried away down the stream. 
Following the flood the scene along the river was one 
of desolation and beggared description after the mighty 
torrent had gotten in its work. The five spans of the 
Lewisburg bridge which were washed out in 1889 were 
rebuilt the same year. 

In the spring of 1894 the heavy rains caused the deep 
snows in the mountains to melt, and the waters of the 
Susquehanna River were again changed to a color 
resembling that of mud. From the headwaters of the 
stream damage was done to bridges and to the farms 
along the banks. The river became high — so high, in 
fact, that three spans of the river bridge at Lewisburg 


were washed out, and the bridge was later rebuilt. It 
stood until July, 1912, when it was razed and a modern 
steel structure erected, which was for railroad traffic 
alone. Some years previous the Commissioners of 
Northumberland and Union Counties had erected a 
handsome driving bridge at the foot of Market Street, 
Lewisburg, almost on the exact spot where the first 
bridge to span the river had been erected. The piers 
for the new structure were built on nearly the same site ' 
as the old piers, and the bridge is now one of the most 
handsome and substantial on the river, used entirely 
for vehicle and foot traffic. 

Sometimes the floods in the river were in the spring 
or early summer, and at other times they were in the 
fall, x^t these times the residents along the banks 
usually looked after their boats or other belongings, 
and took every precaution they deemed necessary to 
guard against the destruction which would have been 
caused by the rising waters. In some instances, how- 
ever, greater precautionary measures should have been 
taken, for the people at times did not anticipate fully 
the exact extent of the flood impending. 

One of the peculiar things about the floods of the 
West Branch of the Susquehanna River is that they 
occurred at almost regular intervals. This is true of 
the first six floods; that is, the first six large floods, 
when they occurred fourteen years apart. In later 
years there were periods of fourteen years between 
other floods in the river. 



Tradition tells us that the Indians knew of these 
floods occurring every fourteen years. 

Who knows but that they had learned this interval 
between the great floods long before the axe of the 
white man blazed its way for civilization along the river 
which the Indians called Otzinachson, the place of the 
demons ? 


A Surviving Sinnemahoning Raftsman 

Born in 1838 

Glossary of Rafting 
Terms, by Former 
Active Raftmen 


RAFTSMEN was not the term used by the men 
engaged in the business of rafting. We were 
raftmen, and one of us was a raftman, the same 
as a boatman was a boatman, not a boatsman. In the 
earher days, back from the river, where they traveled 
on foot to their respective homes, they were called 

They were all up-river men above Lock Haven, 
whether they came ofif the river at Clearfield or the 
Sinnemahoning, Moshannon or any of the creeks that 
emptied into the river or even its branches. 

Lock Haven was the first lumber town on the river 
as the rafts came down, hence everything in the shape 
of a raft stopped to sell at that point. Failing to sell 
their rafts there, they were started again on the run to 
Marietta. As soon as a raft was sold, it went into the 
hands of some jobber's pilot, who was following the 
merchant for whom he "ran" rafts. 

One hundred, one hundred and ten, one hundred and 



fifteen, and, in some instances, one hundred and twenty- 
five dollars, was the jobber's price from Lock Haven to 
Marietta, so a pair of rafts, or a fleet, as it was called 
when hauled side by side, gave the jobber anywhere 
from two hundred and thirty to two hundred and fifty 
dollars for his trip. 

He hired three men for about twenty dollars per 
trip to Marietta, and if he had moonlight to see out of 
the ''Branch" — that is, as far as Northumberland, 
where the North and West Branches meet — he would 
be in Marietta on the evening of the third day or the 
morning of the fourth. There was no extra pay for 
all-night running. It was to the interest of the men 
who ran the rafts to get their twenty dollars as quickly 
as possible. 

Sometimes two pilots would start for a buyer at the 
same time, and one crew would be back home before 
the other got to Marietta. 

It must be remembered that any and all rafts ran 
faster than the water. If you throw a chip off a raft 
thirty or forty feet from it, you will be surprised to 
see the chip losing ground and finally be far in the rear 
of the raft. The same condition exists with all rafts. 
A pine raft having five or six sticks of oak rafted into 
each platform will be one-half deeper in the water 
than if it is made entirely of all pine. Hence, a raft 
of that build will run ten to twenty times faster a day 
than an other one. This would often give the crew a 
chance to get through the chute in the evening when a 
slower raft would have to wait until daylight. 


There were many peculiar terms in rafting parlance 
that are not known to the generation of today and 
nearly forgotten by those of us who followed the river 
in the heyday of lumbering and rafting. I have tried 
to give a number of these rafting terms and explain 
them to the lay mind. 

A small glossary of rafting terms here follows : 

Headhlock — The headblock consisted of a pine stick 
of timber hewn on the bottom side and the other two 
sides, with the top side round. This block was eight or 
ten feet in length and the top side to the right and left 
of the oar were chipped down to about the enter of 
the stick, leaving about two feet on each side of the 
thole pin full height of the stick. This was bored 
through and down into the timber four or five inches 
with a two-inch auger bit and the thole-pin usually 
dressed out of white oak to two inches and inserted 
into the headblock, driven through it and down into 
the hole in the timber stick. The halved part of the 
headblock to the right and left of the pin were also 
bored through and down into the timber and securely 
pinned. The oar stem was bored with a two-inch auger 
and mortised back from the pin to allow it to be moved 
upward and downward with ease. 

Snubbing Posts — Snubbing posts were of two kinds, 
those along the landing places, put in by the landlords 
and anchored with a pin through an auger hole at the 
bottom to prevent them from being pulled out. They 
were anchored posts. The other was a post with a 
square bottom fitted into a mortised timber stick on the 


raft and were much in use after raftmen began to use 
two hundred feet of rope or "hne." The old ropes 
were only from seventy-five to eighty feet in length, 
and could not be used to as great an advantage as the 
longer ropes. 

Grouser Hole — The grouser hole was made by 
putting in a shorter stick than the others in the plat- 
form by dropping the stick that butted against it and 
leaving it project at the other end. The hole generally 
was from eighteen inches to two feet upward. The 
grouser was a large skid ten or twelve feet in length 
and all one man could handle alone and placed in the 
hole and shoved to the bottom, where it bit on the grav- 
elly bottom and helped to retard the progress of the 

Hearth — On all rafts that came down the river — 
that did not have shanties built on them and a place for 
a sheet iron stove — there was no place to cook on unless 
the raftmen built a hearth. This was used by all job- 
bers who did not have a sheet iron stove, which was 
carried liack on the train along with extra snubbing 
rope, which all jobbers of any account owned and used 
in connection with the one on the raft. Every raft 
was equipped with a line. The hearth consisted of five 
or six boards or slabs laid at on the timber on the most 
level spot and about eight or ten inches of mud and 
sand was placed over them. When completed the fire- 
place was about five feet square. On this the fire was 
built, .the tea made, the ham and eggs fried — which 
usuallv constituted the menu. Coffee was not used. 


perhaps on account of it not being roasted and ground 
at the stores, as we find it today. Plenty of sugar was 
in use for the tea. No spreads or jelhes of any kind 
were used. The "shanty rafts" had a better supply of 
provisions, and the men Hved better. 

Top Loading — When a raft was completed, whatever 
number of sticks were left over were rolled onto the 
raft or floated alongside of it and a rope tied to the 
lashpole, the other end slipped under the timber stick 
and a skid rammed under the stick and the stick held 
in place by the rope with two or three men holding it. 
The man with the skid pried it with his "purchase" on 
the edge of the raft, lifted it out of the water enough 
that the man on the rope could roll it in the rope and 
thus place it on the raft. Skids reaching nearly across 
the raft were laid and the timber on the skids appor- 
tioned, thus making the weight on the raft uniform on 
the entire platform. If it was a board raft or scantling 
raft, the lumber was simply piled on top. with skid 
bottoms sometimes. 

J/a/yart/^— Halyards were large hickory withes 
twisted out of poles, and were in use in stopping rafts 
which were made smaller than in the days of ropes. 
They would be thrown out on the shores where the 
ends were grabbed, stood upon and dragged along. 
With the aid of the grouser the rafts were stopped. 

Bozvs — Bows were made out of white oak, split after 
quartering and splitting the heart out of the blocks. 
After being hearted, they were split open from the cen- 
tre until the last split could be done with the hands, 


after starting it at the end with an axe. The last spht manipulatea by the hand so that it did not spht off 
at the side, and was done by pressing on the stronger 
piece in a bowed manner, letting the weaker one run in, 
and, if too much, then the other side was bent, thus 
making it come out at the other end of uniform thick- 
ness, which was about one- fourth of an inch. 

Platform — A platform was one length of timber or 
boards. In timber it ran from twenty-five feet in 
length to eighty or ninety, according tc the lengths of 
the trees cut. These lengths were looked after in the 
woods by the hewer, who saw to it that he did not 
make more than a platform, or enough for three or 
four platforms, all of the same length. 

Pup — A pup was a creek raft. These rafts were 
constructed in the creeks where there were too many 
turns for a large raft, or where the obstructions were 
too great for large timbers. They were run out to the 
larger streams, butted together at the end and lashed, 
thus making a full-length raft, with two useless oars in 
the centre, hanging over and riding each other's raft. 
These sometimes were rigged up on the side of the raft 
and used to pull "headway" in the wind. This was 
resorted to only on special occasions. 

A Pair of Pups — A "pair of pups" made up a full- 
raft. A raft was one lot of timber put into the usual 
form of rafting and equipped with oars, fore and aft. 

Fleet — A fleet consisted of two rafts lashed side by 
side, and had therefore four oars on the fleet. Rafts 
were run double after coming through the Lock Haven 



chute, and were not necessarily separated until they got 
to Shamokin, which was a single chute, the same as at 
Lock Haven. From there on they were run double to 
Marietta. From Marietta to tidewater they were all 
run single. 

Whiskey Boats — Whiskey boats were simply skiffs 
used through the entire length of the river by what we 
might call "whiskey runners." Operatives of these 
skififs found a good eddy where they could sit in their 
boats without mooring them, and each boat was pro- 
vided with whiskey, bread, pies, cakes and eggs. If the 
operative was onto his job, he carried these provisions; 
if he wasn't, he only carried the whiskey. Sober men 
would buy a tiny cup of whiskey, place it on the rafts 
and drink at leisure ; drunks bought their whiskey by 
the coffee pot full. There was much hilarity at times. 

Rafting Terms 


In addition to the terms of rafting days, of which 
Mr. Chatham has written before, M. J. Colcord, of 
Coudersport, editor and a former pilot, has given the 
following, which without doubt means very little in 
the language of today, but which is recalled by those 
daring men of the river who are still with us. 

Grub — A white oak sapling cut with the bulge of the 
roots on. Used in rafting lumber. (Grubs were often 
made from ironwood saplings, when the white oak was 
not available, shaved down to fit auger holes, two inches, 
two and one-half inches or three inches, in the binding 
boards of a platform.) 

Lashpole — A pole placed cross-wise of a timber raft 
near the ends of the platforms, fastened with bows and 

Rope — One and a fourth inch rope, fifty to seventy- 
five feet long, used to tie up rafts. 

Halyard — A long hickory withe, used to tie up rafts 
before the days when ropes were used. 

Oar Blade — A plank about sixteen feet long and 
twenty inches wide, sawed thin at one end. 

Oar Stem — Body of a small tree, about forty-five 
feet long, tapering from two inches at the round hand- 



hold to six inches at the outer end, which was mortised 
to hold the thick end of the blade. 

Tic Loose — Unfasten the rope or halyard that holds 
the raft. 

Pilot — Manages the head oar and directs the work 
of the steersman. 

Steersman — Manages the rear oar. 

Stove — Used in either tense to designate disaster by 
hitting obstructions of the shore. 

Grouser — A stout skid inserted between the ends of 
timber sticks, to help stop the raft by grousing on the 
bottom of the stream. 

Snub — A turn with the rope (tied to a lashpole) 
around a tree, stump or post on shore, one turn or two 
thrown around the rope, with all the slack possible 
taken up, then "Hold like hell," "Let her render," "Let 
go ; you'll break the rope," were heard. 

Wane — Round of a timber stick. In measuring the 
wane on one side of upper surface not counted. The 
portion that lacks filling the square of the stick. 

Paying the Coat-Tail — Treating. The first trip a lad 
goes down the river and through Conewago Falls, to 
treat all hands. If not, some one would cut one of his 
coat-tails. Raftmen wore frock coats. - 

Thumbing — Placing the bottle alongside something 
on the raft, so that the contents were just one drink 
above the top of the object measured by. Some raft- 
men were quite expert in finding the proper height to 
leave a good, liberal supply above the thumb. Lower 
levels were continually needed as the game progressed. 

Appearance and Customs 
Of The Early Raftmen 


OF THE time I write fully half of the men engaged 
in rafting were bearded men, and all wore mus- 
taches. In fact, you had to grow a mustache as 
soon as you could, for it was a fixed fact among the 
girls that unless you wore one of these hirsute adorn- 
ments you were "not in it" at all, to use a common ex- 
pression, and were considered weak and unmanly. 

The roughest-looking men came from the woods far 
up the river. Some wore bearskin caps, some 'coonskin, 
others foxskin headgear, and those who did not have 
these warm caps wore slouch hats that had been worn 
so long that you could not tell where the crown ended 
or where the brim began, and over the whole grim 
goblins of red-hue paint covered the entire lid. 

There was a class of woodsmen who delighted in 
having observers take a second look at them, but withal 
they were a good, warm-hearted lot of men, whose 
charities among their kind were prevalent as well as 

The landlords who seemed to "stand in" with the 
raftmen were Mr. Hanna, at Lock Port ; the Clearfield 



House, at Lock Haven; the Fallon House, at Lock 
Haven, (for the timber buyers) ; Ellis, at Williamsport ; 
Graham, at Muncy; Speece, at Shamokin, above the 
dam, and Hummell below it; Keiser, at Selinsgrove; 
the Shriner House, at Cox's Town; Newhring at the 
White House, also Housel, or Housickel, as he was 
called by most of the raftmen. 


Walking back home in the thirties and forties was the 
only way to return after raftmen had taken the tmi- 
bers down the river to Marietta and other points. 1 
have heard my father say he put seventeen rafts into 
Marietta in one spring, and made the last trip in June 
with a single raft. He was not able to get another with 
it. When they walked back there was a tavern about 
every four miles on the "Big River," as they called the 
main stream of the Susquehanna. The returning raft- 
men got up at four o'clock in the morning, walked to 
the next hotel before breakfast, having first taken a 
drink at the place they started from. But, all in all, 
they were a good lot, and they got as much fun as possi- 
ble out of their hard work and their hardships. They 
played tricks on the people along the way, and often 
their mischief cost them time and money. 

I remember hearing my grandfather tell of two men 
named Walter and Proctor, from Liberty, and of an 
incident into which they mixed themselves. They saw 
an old sow with suckling pigs by the side of the road. 
They each stopped, picked up a pig and carried them 


to the next hotel, sold them for drinks and went on. 
That afternoon they saw three men coming behind 
them. The oncomers had warrants for their arrest, 
captured the two men who stole the pigs, took them 
back to the 'squire's office, gave them a hearing, forced 
the men to pay a fine, and they proceeded on their jour- 
ney. But this was not enough. Above Liverpool a 
man was building a post-and-rail fence. Proctor, when 
he got within two or three hundred feet of the fence, 
left the road and began to sight along the posts. He 
called to the builder to come down to the fence, as he 
wanted to talk to him. The builder had watched the 
antics of Proctor with considerable interest. When he 
finally did come down to meet the raftmen, Proctor told 
him the fence was one of the most beautiful he had ever 
seen, the panels were perfect, the posts set in a beauti- 
fully straight line. He asked the fence-maker how 
much he got for building each panel, and he was told. 
Proctor then said to him: *Tf you will come up to 
where I live and build me a fence like that, I will give 
you three cents more per panel than you are getting 

The builder asked how far up the river Proctor lived, 
and told him he would come up to build the fence. 
Some time afterward Proctor was surprised to see his 
fence-maker friend appear at his home in Liberty. 
Proctor pointed out a bare place on the mountain at the 
mouth of Bald Eagle Creek and told the builder that 
was the farm he wanted fenced in. Unto this day the 
bare spot is called Proctor's Farm. 

Cut of 11,233 Board 
Feet, Probably One 
Man's Lumber Record 

Mr. John Zimmerman, of Cumberland, who sawed 
11,233 board feet of lumber in one working day at 
Heckton Mills, in Dauphin County, prol^ably carries 
off the honors for one day's cutting along the Susque- 
hanna River. Mr. • Zimmerman, who was working 
against time, performed this feat in order to get out a 
certain supply of lumber on time — and he did it in 
eleven hours, too. Mr. Zimmerman worked for many 
years "on the saw mill," and the following account of 
his lumbering days will prove interesting to the readers 
of this booklet on the rafting days of Pennsylvania. 

JOHN ZIMMERMAN, one of the old Susquehanna 
raftmen, celebrated his seventy-first birthday, 
February 19, 1922. He lives with his son on 
Market Street, in New Cumberland. He began rafting 
in ISn, and continued until 1884. For thirteen years 
he brought rafts down the Susquehanna from Lock 
Haven to Heckton Mills, near Dauphin, where a large 
saw mill was operated for years. He also made a 



number of trips with rafts down the Susquehanna to 
Wrightsville and Columbia. 

For about ten years Mr. Zimmerman was the head 
sawyer at Heckton Mills. He operated a saw that 
was called a "muley saw." This was the local name 
for the old-fashioned ''up-and-down" saw. Bill Fisher, 
who is still living at Heckton, was his helper. It was 
customary for the entire saw mill crew to make the 
trip with the rafts in the early part of spring. Until 
the first rafts arrived, the saw mill couldn't be operated, 
for all the logs that had been brought in the year before 
were used up and a new supply had to be rafted in. 

Mr. Zimmerman reports that some big stuff was 
sawed at Heckton Mills. He remembers one piece of 
white pine timber that was 102 feet long and measured 
eleven by fourteen inches at the small end. It contained 
over 1,300 board feet of the finest lumber that was ever 
placed on the market in Pennsylvania. 

When one compares the daily capacity of the old 
**up-and-down" saw mill with the modern saw mill, 
one is inclined to think that the "up-and-down" saw 
turned out little lumber, but Mr. Zimmerman remem- 
bers well and relates with interest the big day at Heck- 
ton. He operated the saw for eleven hours without any 
let-up, and when the day was finished he measured up 
his cut and found that he had turned out 11,233 board 
feet of choice lumber. All the material that he sawed 
that day was made up into timber sixty feet long and 
ten by twelve to twelve by sixteen inches in width. Mr. 
Zimmerman believes that this cut of over 11,000 board 


feet was the largest output of any "up-and-down" saw 
mill in Pennsylvania. 

In those days large lumber contracts were common. 
The Reading Railroad at one time placed a contract 
with the owner of the mill for 1,000,000 board feet of 
bridge lumber. For six months the mill operated from 
6 o'clock in the morning until midnight. The contract 
had to be put out in record time, for, if it was turned 
out by a specific day, another contract for 500,000 board 
feet would be placed. Head Sawyer Zimmerman re- 
ports that on the day set for the completion of the 
contract, the work was done, and they succeeded in 
landing the second contract. 

In order to supply the mill at Heckton it was neces- 
sary to bring down each spring from 100 to 150 rafts. 
Mr. Zimmerman says that rafting was rough work, for 
often the rafts struck rocks and were broken to pieces. 
It was not unusual for rafts to be damaged so badly 
that they had to be pulled to the shore for repairs and 
hundreds of logs broke loose when they struck rocks, 
and many of them were never recovered. 

Mr. Zimmerman recalls distinctly the Johnstown 
flood. He relates that all the islands in the Susque- 
hanna were huge piles of logs. For two months he 
and his three sons worked continuously, taking logs off 
of one small island of the Susquheanna. Logs were 
piled up so high that portable saw mills were built upon 
them in order to cut the logs into timber. He also re- 
calls the flood of 1865, for he was then a boy living 
near Fort Hunter, and reports that the logs and debris 


were so thick on the Susquehanna that one was unable 
to see the water, and the material crushed against the 
Rockville bridge that the sound was heard for miles. 
During the flood the water entered the first floor of the 
house in which he and his parents lived. It rose so 
rapidly that no means of escape was available for them 
excepting to place a large plank out of the second-story 
window, over which the family made their escape to a 
nearby embankment. When the water was at its high- 
est, it reached within ten inches of the ceiling of the 
first floor, and when it receded it left a deposit of mud 
twelve inches thick on the kitchen floor. 

Mr. Zimmerman reports that the floods in those days 
days always carried with them thousands and some- 
times millions of choice logs, many of which were never 
recovered. He regrets that all the fine lumber is gone 
from the hills of Pennsylvania, and feels sure that if we 
still had some of the choice white pine lumber that he 
sawed fifty years ago, it would bring at least $200.00 
per 1,000 board feet. 

Mr. Zimmerman is now employed at the Susque- 
hanna Woolen Mills, in New Cumberland. He is now 
seventy-one years old, and delights to tell stories to his 
children, grandchildren and friends about the log raft- 
ing days and the wonderful lumber that was brought 
down the Susquehanna and the great forests that for- 
merly covered the hills of Northern Pennsylvania. 

River Items 

SOMETIIMES natural forces will demonstrate to 
mere man how they can handle certain situations. 
For years rivermen have had their own troubles 
getting steamboats and even rowboats through the rocks 
and bars that line the river shore above Kelker Street, 
and running around is nothing unusual. But the other 
day a flat, partly loaded with coal, broke its ties with 
McCormick's Island and started out to see the Susque- 
hanna River Front on its own hook. The boat came 
down the river broadside on and throughout the rough- 
est parts of the ''riffles," jolted now and then and swung 
around, but nevertheless getting through and brought 
up on a bar away below the part which makes the most 
experienced navigators of the river get busy. 

Speaking of the river, it has been remarked that 
nothing has been done in view of the constantly in- 
creasing business to make channels along the shore, not 
the great projects discussed every half dozen years since 
lT9-t, but a small channel which could care for river 
coal and sand l^oats. It is also remarkable that snags 
and large trees are also allowed to remain and obstruct 
every kind of craft. There are a couple of trees in the 
Susquehanna about opposite Division Street which 



duck hunters cuss and river coal men stay away from, 
but they have been there a long time. — Harrisburg 

B. F. Burfield, of Coudersport, who "rode rafts" in 
the days when timber was brought down the Susque- 
hanna in that manner, has sent to the State Department 
of Forestry an interesting miniature raft, complete 
even to the "deck house" and the place where the 
"yankees," as we used to call them, did their cooking. 
Mr. Burfield is 83 years of age and has many an inter- 
esting story of the times when he helped l)ring huge 
rafts down the wide branching river. He recalls Har- 
risburg in earlier days and the places here and not far 
away where the rafts were tied up or 1)roken up. The 
raft has attraced much attention at the Forestry offices. 
— Harrisburg Telegraph, 1921,