In honor of its heritage each year, the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum in White Pines, CA, a mile from Arnold, CA on Highway 4, sponsors a logging competition show featuring both professional and amateur competitors.
There are also games, great food, raffles, museum tours, and guided visits to the #4 Shay Locomotive we have restored. Amateurs can get instruction in such things as axe throwing, log bucking, and the like beginning at 9 am with competition immediately following. Professional competition will begin at 12 Noon. The pros will throw axes, buck logs, compete with hotsaws, compete in Jack and Jill bucking, choker setting, and limber pole bucking. Fun for the whole family including any who may not be particularly interested in the competition.
Logging and lumbering in California’s Sierra Nevada began well before gold was discovered. In the early 1800′s logging was a laborious, slow and dangerous profession, with brute strength and animal power being top requirements.
By the late 1800′s dramatic changes made Sierra mills a practical proposition. Animal power had, for the most part, been replaced by steam. Steam donkeys yanked logs off the mountains, steam locomotives and traction engines hauled them to the mills where steam-powered saws cut them into lumber and steam locomotives transported the lumber to market.
The exception was in the southern Sierra. There, building railroad track to the timber was too expensive because of distances and terrain. For over half a century, water filled V-shaped wooden flumes up to 60 miles in length floated lumber from southern Sierra mills to railheads in the San Joaquin Valley. Flumes were tried in the northern and central Sierra, but never panned out. The southern flumes continued moving lumber until 1931, when the mills closed down due to a depressed lumber market.
Building and maintaining flumes was costly, as was railroad logging in the rest of the Sierra. Consequently, only lumber from the more valuable tree species could be produced at a profit. Generally, that would be Ponderosa Pine and Sugar Pine. It was not until the mid to late 1930s that more efficient equipment such as crawler tractors and trucks reduced logging costs. At that time demand for lumber increased so that Sierra timber men could earn a living on other species.