Site offers a look back at a time when flunkies, donkey punchers and fallers worked in logging camps.
Can you imagine having to cook breakfast for 100 to 300 hungry lumbermen? Logging was men’s work in the first half of the 1900s, but there were some women in the logging camps, and they were working hard, too.
Most women worked as cooks’ assistants and servers, and were known as flunkies. (Their cabin was commonly called “the flunky shack.”) A few women did laundry or cleaned cabins.
The cooks had a wood-burning stove, no microwave, no Costco. They prepared three square meals a day, making their bread from scratch. The loggers ate, on average, 8000 calories a day.
The logging industry plays a complex role in Washington state’s history. Elements from this important period in the state’s history have been preserved at places like Camp 6, now part of Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum.
A large collection of artifacts and railroad camp buildings were displayed for several decades at the now-gone Camp 6 Logging Museum in Pt. Defiance Park, Tacoma. In 2010, Camp 6, founded by the Western Forest Industries Museum in 1964 and operated by the Tacoma chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, shut down.
Five cabins at Camp 6 were moved to Mineral in November 2011 to found the logging museum there. It opened in 2012.
“These cabins and artifacts were built and used here in Washington state, Brian Wise, roadmaster at Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum says. “These logging cabins were some of the last of their kind in the entire Western United States, so they needed to be preserved.”
Visitors today get hands-on experience of life in a logging camp.
“Four of the five cabins transferred from Camp 6 to Mineral were previously used up until the early 1960s by Rayonier, Inc.’s logging railroad at a logging camp on Lake Quinault,” Wise says. The fifth cabin from Camp 6 was used by St. Regis Paper at a logging camp near Lake Kapowsin.
To complete the logging museum at Mineral, Wise requested a sixth cabin from West Fork Timber Company, located near the museum. Mt. Rainier Railroad also procured steam logging artifacts from Camp 6. These include a logging caboose; a Caterpillar tractor bulldozer and logging arch; and a snowmobile built from the wreckage of an airplane by a logger based in Mineral who used it in the very same woods years ago.
Al Harper and Wayne Rankin, co-owners of Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum, have said that the museum’s mission is not only the preservation of history but to deliver it in a fun, entertaining manner. “With history being the road map to the future, we need to know our past, both the good and the bad.” Harper says.
The Mt. Rainier Railroad is a steam-powered railway operating in Washington State. The museum is a nonprofit organization operating under the direction of Western Forest Industries Museum. For more information visit MtRainierRailroad.com or call 888-STEAM-11.