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Washington's Timber Industry
Transcript of Washington's Timber Industry
Early Timber Industry
Washington's Timber Industry
Industrial Workers of the World
In the 1850s the area around the Puget Sound supplied lumber for Washington.
The California gold rush exposed the need for a good, steady supply of lumber for Washington.
During the early years of the industry many heedless practices nearly destroyed forests.
The first lumbermen cut down anything they could get their hands on, limited only by the problems of transportation into the inner the land.
Simultaneously preserving the forest, and profiting from it is something that has defined Washington ever since.
For a hundred years, no other industry came close to matching logging's importance to Washington.
Encouraged by the U.S. Forestry Service, and by the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company, compromises were reached, leaning towards sustainable timber harvesting.
When men were logging they usually set up a site near the shore of Puget Sound, cut down all of the surrounding trees, and overload the closest ship transporting supplies to California.
Most Towns remained small, lawless, and free to do what they wanted.
While logging also occurred in Oregon, the cultural effects were negated there by the presence of numerous farming families, who checked up on the taverns.
The most notorious cities were around Grays Harbor such as Aberdeen and Hoquiam.
Billy Gohl was credited with many of the murders, as well as many assaults, thefts, and arsons. Part-time psychopath, part-time bartender and union agent, he took a special delight in targeting sailors.
In a single year over forty dead bodies were found floating in the water around Grays Harbor.
In Washington, the loggers had the place to themselves for many years, and the area gained its reputation as a place of lawlessness. Few outsiders dared to venture into some of the towns.
During the first decades of significant settlements, logging was a small organizational enterprise.
No town of any size existed without a tavern. With not much to spend their money on, men congregated to gamble, drink ,and fight.
The main way to transport timber was by boat. Any other way of transporting it was difficult.
Logging was a dangerous, grisly profession. With automated saws, falling trees weighing several tons, and other features, the death and dismemberment rate was very high.
But in 1907 a new threat emerged to the business classes, across the Colombia River. All of the sawmills in that area were shut down for several weeks by a radical group called the Industrial Workers of the World.
They were no ordinary union, their goal was to overthrow capitalism entirely and replace it with public land distribution and collective factory ownership.
Business owners employed all of the usual tricks to fight this process, firing suspected organizers, infiltrating union meetings with spies, and attacking demonstrations.
In 1986, a worried environmentalist group petitioned to list the owl as an "endangered species," a move that would stop the timber industry from clearing the lands.
In June 1990, after years of negotiation between the government, environmentalists, and the timber industry, the northern spotted owl was declared a threatened species.
Under this provision, timber companies are required to leave at least 40% of the old-growth forests intact within a 1.3 mile radius of any spotted owl nest.
Industry representatives claimed that the measure would leave thousands of loggers and mill workers jobless, and insist that such policies failed to take into account the dire economic consequences.
Environmentalists, on the other hand, argued that society has obligation to preserve this rare species and the wilderness it inhabits.
Biologists estimate that only 2,000 pairs of Spotted owls survive today.
More trees were burned down than cut down over the first few decades of logging, and it was common for Seattle and Tacoma to be covered in a haze of smoke.
There were a few forest fires, and many of them were lit by locals celebrating important events as a type of festivity.
Ships navigating the Juan de Fuca sometimes found themselves unable to see more than a few feet into the horizon.
One of the worst fires occurred in 1902, it was called the Yacolt Burn.
Starting between Mount St. Helens and the Colombia River, it burned over 200,000 acres and killed over 30 people. 12 billion board feet of timber were lost.
In the aftermath, there was both state and federal concern over the consequences. Teddy Roosevelt, a naturalist himself, was appalled at the incontinent.
Forks is a small town in the northwest corner of the Olympic Peninsula.
Timber dominated most of the town's economy through the 1980s.
Large companies like ITT Rayonier employed hundreds of woods workers to cut down trees.
Rayonier was the largest private landowner in the Forks area in 2007.
Forks's popular years were in the 1970s, when the town earned its reputation as the "Logging Capital of the World."
The 1951 forest fire was larger than any in memory on the olympic peninsula of forks Washington.
The 1951 fire opened thousands of acres to salvage logs, attracting many newcomers.
The Columbus Day Storm of 1962 flattened 15 billion board feet of Northwest timber.
Though this storm didn't hit Forks directly, it created such a huge supply of downed timber for salvage.
The town's population doubled to over 3,000 that decade.
A bolt cutter could make $25,000 to $30,000 a year.
U.S. log exports went from 210 million board feet in 1960 to 4.2 billion board feet in 1988.
On January 3, 1900, the timber industry in Washington underwent one of the biggest changes in its history.
Frederick Weyerhaeuser purchased 900,000 acres of land.
It was the largest private land transaction in American history to that point in time. He paid $6 an acre
After many injuries and compensations a compromise was reached. Timber companies drafted a worker’s compensation law, which was implemented in 1911. It was the first place to ever have something like this.
There were many attempts to unionize but many were shrugged off as sporadic but the possibility was always lurking.