Logging in Luther

Karen Neiger gives presentation on lumber days

LUTHER — Luther area resident Karen Neiger has long been enthusiastic about logging, and on Sept. 29, she shared her enthusiasm with the public in an engaging presentation about the history of logging in Luther and Lake County.

Neiger's presentation at the Luther Area Public Library, took the audience back to the logging era in honor of Lake County's Sesquicentennial. Logging was the earliest chief industry in the county, and one which is still important to residents in the Luther area.

The program was well attended by many members of the community who found it to be entertaining and informative, according to staff at the library.

Talking points were the logging camps in the early days of the county and the towns that grew around them. Neiger also discussed transporting the logs by river and railway, and the different railroads which moved into the area to support the logging efforts.

Neiger had several items from the logging era, such as saws and axes, on display, as well as local vintage photos.

The following is a poem Neiger wrote on July 4th, 1990, in commemoration of the local logging scene, and how it unfolded, "I am a Luther Shanty Boy."

I’m a “Luther” shanty boy,

A native to this land.

I work in the woods all day,

And I sure think it is grand.

My Pa says Granddad did the same

Back in (18)'82,

He learned from him and me from dad,

So, I’ll pass it on to you.

Back in the “Good old’ days,"

When timber really grew,

You’d find a stand of virgin pine

That stretched beyond one’s view.

The trees back then were so darn big,

It’d take a lot of choppin’,

To get yourself a-worked on thru

Them "GREAT BIG PINES AND POPLAR!"

They’d work in teams of 100 men,

In far off camps so lonesome.

They’d make their livin’ the good ol’ way,

They’d work all day and then some!

The camps were crude, but had good food,

They tell me from the stories,

You’d better roust to “COOKIES CALL,"

Or go all day a growlin’.

The men were a tough and hardy lot,

Their shanty’s cold and simple.

The Luther Camp was among the first,

Since the forest here was ample.

Wilson-Luther-Wilson Lumber Mill,

Brought the railroad too!

To take the timber off to sale,

In Chicago and Kalamazoo

They used the Pine River,

To get logs to Manistee.

They sent the wood with river rats,

To mills and factories.

It wasn’t long till people came,

To settle here in “LUTHER,”

The Shanty Boys had done good work,

Now stores and shops were open.

I’m a Luther “Shanty Boy."

My Dad, he was one too!

We’ve come a long, long way,

From Login’ back in '82

Since the time of "River Pine”

And havin’ to brand your timber,

We’ve come to havin’ fancy mills,

That grade, dry and make fiber.

Right now, in the 90’s,

Loggin’s really very good.

Since the foresters have helped us

Manage the timber in the woods.

We learned from Dad and Granddad too,

You can’t just strip the timber,

You must plan and look ahead,

For our future is in that lumber.

Many good Ol’ “Shanty Boys”

Will pass through Luther’s forests…

They’ll do their job…get their pay,

And always be remembered for it.

The need for Luther “Shanty Boys,"

We hope will never end,

For we supply the pulp, you see,

For the paper that’s in your hand!