Roddis Line: Life in Camp

Photographed June 20, 2015
Mercer (Butternut), Iron County, Wisconsin
46° 4.914′ N, 90° 16.26′ W
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The railroad pushed into northern Wisconsin in the 1870s, opening the deep forests for harvest. Now hardwoods such as maple, oak, spruce, cedar, balsam, birch and aspen could be cut.

More logs could be shipped by rail than by water so more men were needed to cut and move the timber to the rail lines. Camps became larger and lumberjacks worked year round.

Life in the woods was constantly busy. Men rose t 4 o’clock in the morning. Equipment, horses and tools were readied for the day. Breakfast was hurried and the men were in the woods by daylight. Lunch was brought out to the men by cook’s helpers. The men returned to camp after dark. After a hearty meal, and pipe of tobacco, the day was over and the bunkhouses were full of tired, snoring loggers.

After the foreman, the cook was the most important person in camp. Without tasty food and lots of it, the men grumbled and refused to work. A good cook attracted good lumberjacks. The food was more important than the money to them.

No talking was allowed at the table. The men could eat as much as they wanted, but quickly. Even without talk, the noise in the dining area was deafening. Imagine over 100 men using tin utensils on tin plates, wolfing down their food in fifteen minutes!
The marker is located on northbound County Road FF, north of its intersection with Turtle Flambeau Dam Road, Butternut, Wisconsin 54514.

The marker is in the middle.

Inside bunkhouse.

Dining area in camp.

Washing clothes.

The marker is alongside County Highway FF in Butternut, Wisconsin.

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