As we have seen over the past Forest Friday articles, considerable planning goes into managing our forests and all the values that exist. But what about those forest pioneers – how did they harvest the trees – without that modern equipment that we know so well today? Mission has some incredible history and a lot of the past logging practices are still evident today if you know what you are looking for.
In the late 1800s, many hundreds of kilometers of access trails were built and referred to as ‘corduroy roads’, ‘plank roads’ or puncheon. Corduroy was the name given as the planking pattern resembled that type of fabric. These corduroy plank roads were created by placing a foundation of logs on the ground in alignment with the direction of the road. Then hand cut wood planks were nailed over top and greased to provide a smooth running surface for either horses or in the 1900’s by steam donkeys. Western red cedar was plentiful in Mission and was most often used, however other species could be used particularly if needed in swampy conditions because if logs are buried in wet acidic soils, they tended to decay very slowly. You can see corduroy road along the Hoover Lake trail (located across from the Mission landfill, and a 3km hike up the logging road to the trailhead).
Prior to the advent of the chainsaw in 1929, logging was completed by hand. A crosscut saw up to 2 meters in length, with handles or one or both ends was used to cut the massive trees down. However, as you will notices throughout the forests, most of these trees were not cut by these men standing on the ground. Loggers put notches in the tree, stood on planks and sawed the trees at the point where there was no flare around the base of the trees. Why? It was faster to cut the tree where it became narrower and round, it was easier to transport a straight log, and mills could not utilize the large flares. Since 95% of the forests in Mission are second and third growth, you will find plentiful stumps from the old forests throughout our area.
We hope you will look closer around when you are recreating in the forests of Mission – you may find your own little bit of history!
Picture 1: Old plank nails
Picture 2: Old plank ‘corduroy’ road near hoover lake
Picture 3: Springboard holes/notches in old cedar stumps- used for falling trees with cross cut saw.