PHOTO GALLERY: Michigan Lumber Camps, 1870s-1930s
If you've ever seen any of my posts about Northern Michigan towns, then you know there are many, many former lumber camps. Some camps have turned into regular towns, some have faded away to nothing, and some sit empty and abandoned with a few remaining remnants of buildings and/or equipment.
Think about what these lumberjacks had to suffer through: excruciating heat, mosquitoes, and poison ivy in the summer, and extreme cold and numbness in winter. No luxuries at all...just work and a few hours rest. Occasionally some fun and booze, but mostly work all day and into the evening.
It was the white pines that brought logging companies and lumbermen to upper Michigan...but it was the French who started it all, when they began cutting down Michigan's trees for forts and housing.
The French were followed by the British, who used our trees for war ships and merchant boats.
The Upper Peninsula was rich in different breeds of pine as well as many hardwoods. In the top 5/8s of the Michigan Mitten, it was mostly pine – south of that to the Ohio border was mainly the hardwoods.
Then, the Americans came from the east. Maine, New York, and other New England lumbermen came to Michigan, believing the timber would last for 100 years or more. But guess what? Between 1870 - 1890, most of the trees had been cut and harvested, thus ending Michigan's logging boom.
As quoted in the Center for Michigan History Studies, “The millions and millions of board feet of Michigan lumber truly helped build this country, but we will never see this again, as the trees are now gone”.
But you will see it again.
Just scroll down and see a photo gallery of 100 Michigan lumber camp scenes and get a feel of what Michigan's awesome logging industry once was.