This history of early life in Logan County, West Virginia, was written by Howard and Daisy Adams. Howard (1906-1976) and Daisy (b.1915) were children of Major and Belle Dora Adams of Trace Fork of Harts Creek. Titled “The life of pioneers during the latter half of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the 19th century” and written in the late 1960s or early 1970s, their history marks the only known attempt by local people to reconstruct the story of pioneer life. This part of the history includes information regarding timbering and rafting.
Now the timbering began. The men and boys would go into the forest and cut and saw down big trees. They would cut off the limbs and top the logs off, then peel all the bark off. Now the logs were slipped down the hills into the branch or valley. The next step was to get the logs to the creek. So this was done by hauling with teams of mules, horses, or oxen. Most folks done their hauling with a big ox team. The ox team consisted of from 4 to 8 yoke of oxen. A yoke was a heavy piece of wood carved and shaped to fit the necks of the steers. It was about 5 feet long and had two curved bows on each end called ox bows. They were put up around the oxen’s neck and through holes in the yoke and held in the yoke by a piece of wood called a key. A steeple of iron was installed in the center of the yoke used for hooking the chain and coupling the teams together. Now after the team was driven up and turned around in front of a log, a long chain called a draft chain was hitched around the log or a pair of “grabs” driven in the log and the chain hitched to them.
So the big ox driver cracked his whip and away the trek began toward the creek bank which was where the logs were hauled till enough logs were banked, as it was called, to make a raft when it rained and the creek arose up big enough to float the logs. They were rolled in the creek with cant hooks or log ______.
The logs were floated down near the river and caught by a device called a boom. Here the logs were placed side by side and end to end. Then poles were nailed to the logs by chain dogs. A chain dog was two wedge-shaped pieces of iron fastened together with a chain about one foot long. These wedge-shaped irons were driven into the logs, holding them to the poles.
Now the raft was made. A raft usually was about 20 feet wide and maybe 300 feet long. A gadget called an oar blade was put on each end of the raft. An oar blade was a board about 12 feet long, 12 inches wide, and 1/2 inch thick on one end and two inches thick on the other end. The thick end was nailed on a pole about four inches in diameter and 20 feet long. A ____ was driven in the end of a log on each end of raft. Then the pole blade had a hole drilled in it. Now it was placed on the peg in the log, making it swivel or work on a pivot. Two men run each raft. They had a large cable or rope about 100 feet long used for tying up the raft when they wanted to stop overnight.
Tying a raft up to a tree was a hard job and very dangerous. Many men were drowned at it. The raft was pushed or guided close to the bank of the river and one man would jump off and run along the river bank beside the raft and the other man on the raft would throw the end of the cable out to the man on the bank and he would put the raft around a big tree and tie the raft up. It took quick men who knew their job to do this type of work.
After tying up their raft, a buyer was found and he came and measured their logs and paid them and they walked back home, sometimes 100 miles. When the men got back home from the timber cruise, they paid off their debts and bought a few clothes, coffee, flour, salt, etc. And time marched on.