It's OrEgun


Salute to

Oregon Trees,

Traditions and Chainsaws

Oregon has lots of really big trees, but most of Oregon’s true "Old Growth" was cut down long ago.  Most modern saw mills do not have saw blades large enough to cut the "old growth" trees.  Below are pictures of true “Old Growth,” captured in Kiser Bros. 1903 photos.  Note the size of trees compared to a cabin and to men.  Also note the lack of foliage beneath the trees.


An Oregon Tradition

Old Growth

Selective Cutting

Clear Cutting


Above: From Lies, Logs, and Loggers, pub. 1961 by Loggers World, Chehalis, WA. Apparently the log contained 11,516 board feet of lumber and was headed for a show. Most log trucks of the 1960’s held 3 logs.  Today, most hold a dozen or more.
Above: Today’s typical Oregon log truck load, photo taken about 2008 on Oregon's north coast.
In 1910 the Long-Walls family homesteaded on a hill along Oregon’s Coast. Pic above their property 1930-1935.  The snags in background are from a forest fire.  The boy on pony in photo grew up and logged (selective cut) this property for at least 50 years before photo below was taken. He replanted. He made the pond in background.  During a century of ownership, there was never an increase in flooding or land slides.  The last time he logged, tree hugging protestors met him at his gate.  He hated that they thought he was a bad guy.  Of course they didn’t understand because he never let them on his property to see that he was a fine caretaker of the forest, his forest. Oregon needs more people like “Bob” R. T. Walls (1925 - 2011).
Above :
Long - Walls family homestead, 1930-1935.
Same place after 50 years plus
Selective Logging.
Above:  Oregon Blowdown in Clear Cut Oct. 2017
On my way home, almost home, OOPS!  What’s the red spot glowing in rain ahead?  Brake! Brake!  A tree down.  While waiting for chainsaw guys, I shot this video out my window, hoping another tree would not land on me.  The wind smashes broadside into trees left standing in or around clear cut areas, causing "blowdown."  Like dominoes, down they go.  You tell me.  Is this the vision you see in Timber Industry commercials where they tell you there will be plenty of trees, and clean water for all to enjoy?

Pics from a  record breaking storm that slammed into the North Coast Dec. 2007.  Trees went down everywhere, not just around  clear cut areas.  But along clear-cuts, lines of trees fell where in other areas one fell the one next to remained standing. Photo of house was an exception with 2 trees falling on it.  In that neighborhood there were about a dozen trees.  These 2 and another fell.  The others stayed upright.
     The massive damage on the hill was in 2nd growth trees, not wild trees.  These trees were delaminated.  There are 3 possible explanations for the damage.  1) The human planted trees were of a type that does not take the wind.  2) A tornado was unleashed on the hill.  3) Both of the above.
Water color painting by Elsie B. White of Mt. Hood forest.
Above: Oil painting of post selective cut pine in Ochoco forest by Elsie B. White 1960s
Oil painting  of post selective cut Mt. Hood mixed forest by Elsie B. White, 1960s

Post Selective Cut Logging

Paintings by Elsie B. White (1909-1967) show areas that had been selective cut.  Her paintings were accurate in terms of tree sizes and numbers.  The road painted in her picture was carved by logging equipment.  The “cat track” then provided access to areas for camping.  The ground in her pictures is free of limbs “slash” left behind by logging, so the clear cutting probably occurred several years previous to being captured on canvas;  however, it does not take long for campers to burn up the slash in their cook fires.
Above: 1950s hiking in a selective cut area.  The amount of “slash” on the ground suggests logging occurred with a couple years before the photo was taken.  Yet, it was beautiful, with plenty of the wild and free still intact.
Above:   A pile of  clear cut “slash.” 
This pile will be chipped, but slash is often burned sending plumes of smoke into the air.  Too bad it can’t be chipped, or given to campers for their fires..
Above: Portion of “Logging Mural” by Larry Kangas (1949 - 2014)  created 1994, covers exterior wall of building located at 1200 Main St., Sweet Home, Oregon.  (Kangus painted over 1,000 murals.)
Above: Sugar Pines, Southern Oregon
Below: Enlarged from above, view of cabin
Above and Below: A really big sugar pine tree of southern Oregon, 2003, but not as big as the old growth of 1903.
Old Growth firs dwarf the loggers at their base, Kiser Bros. photo, 1903, was captioned:
"The fir trees in this picture are on an average height of 275 feet, and individual trees exceed 300 feet in height.  The sword ferns grow in the cool, damp shade beneath them to the height of a tall man.
     "No words can portray the feeling of reverence and wonder which overcomes the beholder, far away from the haunts of men, high on the mountain side, as he gazes on these giant trees, the mighty columnar trunks flecked with the sunshine that blazons their purple majesty with golden gleams, far-shining through the aisles of the primeval forest.  Untold miles of such matchless woods darken the slopes and summits of the Cascades.
     "The product of these forests has made Portland the greatest lumber port of the world, and this timber is sent to Eastern Asia, South Africa and South America in enormous cargoes."
In the early days, the Logger’s 5 foot saw was too short, so they climbed up the tree to a narrower spot.  The cut notches in the tree to provide a place to stand. It took 2 men and a lot of sweat, to handle the long saw, but at last the shout was given, “Timber!”  Some believe they cut so high up on the stump to get out of the brush growing below.  Perhaps that’s true for later years, after some trees had been cut from an area, but not in a virgin old growth forest.  Old growth forests were dense.  Tree branches  blocked all sunlight from reaching the ground.  Nothing much grew under them.
Above: A stump along Short Sands beach trail still has notches cut be early loggers.
Updated: Feb. 21, 2021
© = R. W. Faulkner
Tribute to
Spruce Trees:
Can they survive
in Urban Forests?
Above:  Logging in 2021 has abandoned traditions.
Old Growth Noble Firs, 1903 at Larch Mt., 30 miles east of  Portland OR, near Bridal Veil.  Photo by Kiser Bros., captioned:
   "Noble firs, the botanists call these mighty arboreal columns.  Standing amid a group of them, the beholder sees their lofty spires converge above hime cone-like, as the rails of the railroad seem to approach each other in the distance.  A hundred feet of clean, clear, grayish purple trunk, scarce diminishing in diameter, before the nearest branch to the earth, is common….So thick is the canopy of branches overhead that the snow often lies two to four feet deep under these very trees in the last days of June.
    "The noble fir is the most valuable timber of the Pacific states."
Sugar Pines, 1903, west of Crater Lake.  Photo by Kiser Bros., captioned:
     "On the mountains of Southern Oregon the pines take the place of the northern firs, and several varieties of valuable timber belonging to this species abound.  Among them the sugar pine is scattered, not growing, as some varieties, in great armies, but scattered in groups and singly among the other  forest trees. 
     "Favorably situated  this pine (Pinus Lambertiana) often exceeds 200 feet in height, and is 10 feet in diameter.  Its cones are the grandest of the pine family, reaching a length of two feet and more. ...
     "The timber of the sugar pine is the principal product of Southern Oregon mills, and is esteemed for strength and beauty."
Above: Old Growth Fir
Below: Enlarged from above
Above: Noble Firs on Larch Mt.
Below: Enlarged from above

OreEgun Tree Terms Defined

Deep Woods

A forest dark and deep, lacking human footprint.

Wilderness Area

A protected area, often forested, preserved in its natural state.  Motorized vehicles and tools are not permitted in wilderness areas.  Logging is prevented.

Old Growth

Really big old trees, not planted by humans.

Heritage Trees

Having a unique quality, often, but not always, over 100 years old.  Often, but not always big, but not as big as Old Growth.

Wild Trees

Trees not planted by humans.

Selective Cutting

Lumberjacks wonder thru a forest and pick and choose some trees to cut down, leaving neighboring trees to continue to grow. 

Clear Cutting

An entire area of trees are mowed down.

Chainsaw History & Development

The concept of revolving saw teeth has been around since the early 1800s.  I’m not sure when the first chainsaw teeth bit into Oregon forests.  San Franciscan Samuel J. Bens created a chainsaw to fell giant redwoods in 1905.  A portable chainsaw was patented in 1918 by a Canadian millwright James Shand. Andreas Stihl patented an electric chainsaw for bucking sites in 1926 and a gasoline powered chainsaw in 1929.  McCulloch started producing chainsaws in 1948.   According to Wikipedia,” The early models were heavy, two-person devices with long bars. Often, chainsaws were so heavy that they had wheels like dragsaws.  Other outfits used driven lines from a wheeled power unit to drive the cutting bar.”  From this description, it would seem that Oregon lumberjacks continued to use muscle powered handsaws to fell trees into the mid-1900s.  Since then chainsaws have continued to evolve into faster, lighter weight, workhorses easily operated by one person.  As chainsaws evolved the speed of cutting down forests has sped up.
Views from Elsie B. White
Ever so often, artist Elsie B. White, said, “I need a trip to the deep woods.”  Once in the deep woods, she would sit and paint water colors of what she saw.  Most of the campsites were in selective cut areas.  At home, Elsie painted oils based on her water color landscapes.  Elsie died in 1967.  Her paintings have survived to show us what the deep woods looked like, often after selective cutting. Some of her paintings are shown below.

Loggers are Tree Huggers

Granted, when a lumberjack looks at a tree, he will most likely reply, “Yep! A lot of board feet in that tree.”  That reply does not mean he dislikes trees.  Tree Huggers and Loggers have locked horns for decades.  It does not have to be that way.  Both sides love trees.  Both sides have been fed limited information that has fueled the flames.
Tree huggers:
Admit it.  It was a dirty trick, using the spotted owl to save trees from chainsaws.  Tree huggers, admit it.  Not all logging is bad.  Those of you who picketed my cousin Bob’s last logging, were wrong and clueless. He was not cutting down old growth, or heritage trees.  He was selective cutting trees that grew on his own property.  Each time he cut, he replanted.  Each time he cut, his land became more beautiful that it was before.  It is possible to log without damaging the earth or the view.  Unleash your wrath on the big global timber companies, not the small private family owned homesteads.
Stop blaming tree huggers for your lost jobs.  The real problems are new machinery that allows one logger to cut too much too fast, and civilization creeping into timberlands.  From 1974 to 2014, “about 247,000 acres of private Oregon forestland were converted to other uses - mostly to low-density housing. However, Oregon’s loss was less than half the loss seen in Washington state over the same period.”
Above & Below: Fresh clearcut of 2nd or 3rd growth.  In the proud days of past, it would have taken weeks and several loggers to clear this section.  In 2017 it was cleared by one harvesting machine in a couple days.  It’s now converted use land and will no longer grow timber.
Don’t Be Fooled By Pro-Big Timber Ads
There are several well funded organization that represent the interests of “Big Timber,” the large global corporations, the large timber landholders.  You will see picturesque scenes with implication that such beautiful places can be found after an area has been logged.  The problem is that the scenes used are most often pictures of areas that have been selective cut, not areas that have been clear cut.  The view is always one of small trees, of the same height growing.  When a clear cut area matures, it is cut again.  Clear cutting produces tree farms, not places to walk thru wild forests.

Also Beware of Poor Management Claims:
The same organizations behind deceptive ads are first to cry “Poor forest management,” when a forest fire breaks out.  Wild forests do not have as much underbrush as the first few years of clear cut areas.  It’s a simple matter of sunlight.  A mature forest of big trees blocks sunlight from the ground.  No sunlight no foliage.  This can be seen in Elsie's paintings.  Logging exposes the land to the sun and stuff starts growing.  Wild forests now exist mostly in protected “Wilderness” areas.  85% of forest fires are caused by humans (mostly accidental).  In wilderness areas, there are fewer humans, since vehicles have limited access.  In wilderness areas, no motorized tools are permitted, so the chances of a spark from a chainsaw igniting a fire is eliminated.  In my opinion, wilderness areas are protected from clear cutting and that is the management that these organizations object to.
Clear cutting strips all trees from an area.  The practice has been around for a long time.  It is the most cost effective way to harvest timber.  In the last couple decades the question has been asked, is it a good thing?  Since the internet is full of yes it is and no it’s not posts, I will not dig too deep.  I ask only that you start at the 1903 pics on the page, go to the selective cut pics, then look below to the clear cut pics.  Then ask yourself, what do you want to see when you look out your window.  When you reach the bottom of the clear cut section, ask where are the jobs for loggers?
Selective cutting is time consuming, therefore more costly than clear cutting.  Selective cutting requires individual trees to be identified for harvesting.  Diseased trees and those growing too close together are often selected.  These may not be the best trees for producing timber.  Cat tracks (roads built by bulldozers) wind thru trees left standing to those to be cut down.  The process makes little $ sense to a timber harvester.  It makes a lot of sense to those who desire to enjoy the forest after logging is completed.  It makes a lot of sense to allow some trees to stand so their roots can hold the soil in place as they soak up rainwater.