Black Cherry from the
Old Growth Photo Collection
appreciation to: Norfolk Historical Society
Murphy, Photographer & Printmaker
This exhibit consists of
several framed, high-quality, black and white photos on display in the
Gathering Room of the Museum. It will remain through the winter of
2007-2008 and well into next year. Come see it all for yourself.
It's well worth the trip!
We do not know the
name of the photographer, and only one or two family names of the
lumbermen, but the photographer took professional quality photos that
captured the essence of the lumbering industry in a transitional period that
embraced the span of years between the era of the waterwheel powered sawmill
and the advent of the internal combustion engine. This was the era of steam
whereby a cylindrical boiler was placed on wheels and transported to the lot
where the trees were felled. The only requirement was a small supply of
water to produce steam.
Included in this collection is a photo
taken of the William Lawrence sawmill located on Mill Brook in southwest
Colebrook. This sawmill is of the type used prior to the mobile steam driven
mills where the logs were brought to the mill site.
In the type of mill shown in these photos,
a rack-feed method is employed. The log is mounted upon a long carriage that
runs by rollers on a set of rails and the carriage is traveled along by rack
and pinions, which give a positive feed regardless of the shape of the log.
The carriage in these roller-feed machines is only represented by a couple
of plain trolleys supporting the timber at the back and front.
Circular saws have a wide kerf, or width of
cut. The saws used in these mills probably had a kerf of ½ inch or more;
consequently a considerable amount of each log ended up as sawdust. This is
acceptable because the logs generally are pine, hemlock, red oak or white
ash, all common growth trees in our area. These circular saws are of a type
known as ripping saws – cutting with the grain, as opposed to the cross-cut
saw employed by two men when felling trees. Ripping saw teeth are all shaped
alike with one slope having a steeper angle than the other. Each tooth is
alternately filed, so that a left side point is followed by a right side
point and so on. A set is applied to these teeth so that the high side of
the point aims outward, thus giving the kerf, necessary so that the saw does
not bind while cutting.
The basic methods of logging had not
changed appreciably from colonial times until when these photos were taken,
but the era was soon to end, as continuous-track tractors were introduced in
these parts in the 1930s and 1940s, replacing horses. Also the Diesel engine
came into common use around here after World War II, making the steam engine
obsolete. The art of felling trees using a cross cut saw was also rapidly
coming to an end. Gasoline-powered chain saws, ever so much more efficient
than the old methods, were in use after the mid 1940s.
- Bob Grigg
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Stuck in the Mud