What are some of the problems and dangers that Uncle Cyrus would face as a lumberjack?

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Working for the timber industry was very dangerous.  Almost 200 loggers died on the job each year.  Many more were injured.

         Every job, from chopping down trees to working in shingle mills and sawmills, was dangerous.  Medical help was hours away, unless the logging camp had its own camp doctor.  Transportation was by boat and then streetcar and buggy to the hospital.  The patient would often die of shock before receiving medical help.


Dangers for Lumberjacks: 

Lumberjacks, called “fallers” or “tree choppers”, faced the dangers first.  After chopping and sawing through a tree, lumberjacks had to jump quickly out of the way, since cut trees didn’t always fall straight.  Falling trees sometimes got tangled and caught in other trees on the way down.  When this happened, the cut base of the tree skipped backward on the stump.  Loggers called this a ‘kickback.’  Fallers who didn’t jump to safety quickly enough were smashed and killed.


Lumberjacks faced the dangers of being crushed by trees, drowned on drives, and flattened under log piles in train and sled accidents.


In addition to all of these dangers, they faced another one:  forest fires.

Loggers were helpless when fires started in the deep woods. Any stray spark could start a forest fire when the weather was hot and dry.  Sparks from steam engines, logging trains, and even loggers’ pipes could start a blaze.  In the 1880’s and again in 1894, great fires swept over much of Whatcom County.  The fires destroyed vast areas of fir and cedar trees. Loggers floated on logs and rafts in lakes and rivers to escape the flames.


If you would like to know what kinds of dangers were faced by loggers who had other types of logging jobs, visit this web site!


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