Dan Miller powers through an 8x8 poplar log
Historical Society's Lumberjack Festival Returns to River Front
The sound of axes and chain saws echo across time and the Saginaw River
July 31, 2005
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By: Stephen Kent
Lumber Jacks and Jills returned to the river front for the second River City Lumberjack Festival sponsored by the Bay County Historical Society
and Heritier Sawmill and Lumber
The popular modern sport has its roots firmly planted in the Saginaw Valley. Once the home to some of the largest lumbermills in the world, lumber was king in a country blessed with ancient pine forrest waiting to be cut. Timber milled in Bay City helped build the cities and towns as America expanded West in the mid 1800's.
The story of the lumberjack is one of hard work in primitive conditions and wilderness lodgeings. At the bottom of the Saginaw Valley watershed, all of the rivers that provided transportation for raw logs flowed into Saginaw and Bay City. Tall ships came through the Great Lakes and into the Saginaw Bay to the mouth of the Saginaw River and Bay City to load up with lumber, salt and the products of mills.
Besides the mills, Bay City became known for it's "night life" and "entertainment" catering to the lumberjacks as they came out of the forests in the spring. Water Street was know as "Hell's Half Mile" for its bars, bordellos, gambling houses and generally wild environs.
Today's lumberjack sports are not quite as free wheeling as what one might have found in old bay city. More likely, the events came from the lumber camps where men had little free time and their sports were defined by their work.
The events featured at Sunday's festival included ax throwing, cross cut saw work, chain saws, fire starting and log rolling. Unlike the timber camps of a hundred yearsago, today's sport is co-ed and the Lumber Jills hold their own right beside the men.
Shown at left is husband and wife team Greg and Carol Gordon from Coulais River Canada (just north of Sault St. Marie) participating in the cross cut saw contest. It only takes a few seconds for skilled sawyers to take the end off that 8x8 inch poplar log.
The Bay City lumberjack festival is a project of the Bay County Historical Society
. Coming up on September 24 & 25 is the annual River of Time encampment. Over 900 historical re-enactors demonstrate the entire time line from days of the French Voyagers through World War II. The event is admission free.
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|Winner of the international relay final event, the water boil.||Volunteers Marissa Janiskee, Olivia Labrenz and Breanne Walker dressed in period costumes for the day.|
Diane Heritier cleans wood chips (or "noodles") from a very expensive saw blade before spraying with WD-40.
|Lee Heritier and Greg Gordon compete in the two man cross cut.|
Brothers Matt and Robert Freeman demonstrate log rolling.
Downtown Article 854
Steve Kent and his family have lived in Bay City for 30 years. He is VP of Technical Services at MMCC which produces MyBayCity.Com. Kent is active in many Bay City civic organizations.
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