I got on my hands on a tall stack of vintage Nat Geos this weekend, all from the 20s and 30s. And yes, even in 1928, they had colorful pictures of bare-breasted tribal women. Odd.
In this particular article about Michigan, “Mistress of the Lakes,” they declare Detroit a “City Without Slums.” Now that’s quite the declaration. Clearly things were going well in 1928. One of the manufacturing jobs listed, in addition to cars and gold pens, was the lumber industry. And let me remind you, if you’ve never read a National Geographic article, they are loooong. There was no TV yet, not everyone had radio. So this article on Michigan alone goes from page 269 to 325. Crazy, right? I won’t read it all. But I’ll share these picshas.
The curiously-coiffed gal above is the assistant cook at the lumberyard, who retires to the rear of the cook shack at noon each day to sound the call for “dinner,” which is what we call lunch.
Into the room, the men would file for nourishment. A unique feature of the lumber camps was absolute silence during eating. They maintained that it prevented arguments, which could lead to “brawls, broken dishes, and broken heads,” none of which that cook up top would want to fix. For those with misophonia, who lose their minds when forced to listen to others eating, this would have proven a challenge. But mental conditions were not coddled in their day, so group masticating it was.
The author of the article asserts that strong and faithful horses were better able to do certain lumber camp work better than “any motors,” but I imagine that didn’t last long.
While it was not uncommon to see huge rafts of pulpwood float downstream for consumption of paper mills, much wood was loaded onto ships and processed throughout Michigan.
This particular vessel below has just discharged a cargo of one million board feet of rough lumber from a Canadian port, which Saginaw’s mill will finish for ready-cut houses. Per michiganhistory.leadr.msu.edu, Saginaw hit its peak in the Lumber Era during 1882, with 1,001,274,905 board feet of timber cut in mills along the Saginaw River.
No wonder we hug the trees now.