In the early days of logging, teams of men and oxen dragged trees along skid rows to rivers, flumes, and collecting ponds. This was a massive undertaking, as old growth Douglas firs were often over 200 feet tall, five or six feet in diameter, and could weigh as much as 30 pounds per cubic foot. In the 1880s, this process became faster and more dangerous with the invention of the steam donkey designed to pull logs or lift them over brush and uneven terrain. The machine had a smoking engine powered by wood or coal, and gearing which turned drums or winches containing wire rope.
As more railroads opened eastern Oregon to logging, the steam donkey became indispensable to timber operations without access to rivers. It was designed to move logs from stump to flume or railcar. The steam donkey was replaced by gas powered yarding machines after World War II. The railroads they serviced were soon phased out by heavy-duty logging trucks.
Cutting and hauling timber is hard work. Before the logging industry was mechanized, lumberjacks did much of the work by hand. This was so physically demanding that such woodsmen needed to eat between six and eight thousand calories a day!
At the beginning of the 1900s, this meant that every logger’s daily ration consisted of close to one lb fresh meat, 1/5 lb smoked meat, two lbs fresh fruit and vegetables, 9/10 lb flour, 6/10 lb sugar, 1/5 lb butter, three eggs, and 1/5 lb dry coffee or tea.
Staples were beans, pork, and biscuits. In Oregon, loggers ate as locally as possible for freshness. By 1900, most loggers in the state had access to all of these foods, depending on the season:
-fresh beef, codfish, fresh pork, ham, bacon, salt beef, corned beef, pickled beef, sowbelly, fresh fish, partridge, sausage, chops, steaks, hamburger, oysters, chicken, clam chowder, cold cuts, eggs
-potatoes, rice, barley, macaroni, boiled oats
-carrots, beets, cabbage, sauerkraut, pickles, rutabagas, turnips, beans
-raisins, currants, figs, berries, fresh fruits
-jellies and jams, dried and canned fruit, condensed milk, coffee, tea, chocolate
-biscuits, breads, pies, cakes, doughnuts, puddings, custards