|Pioneer Life in the Homes and Woods of the Queen Charlotte Islands|
|The First World War needed strong
lightweight Sitka spruce and came to the Charlottes for it -- making an almost inconceivable mess in
the process. The road around Juskatla Inlet goes through a First War cutblock which was never
replanted. The forest came back naturally in hemlock and alder, the pioneer species, and now more
than 90 years later it still doesn't amount to much.
In 90 years a spruce grows too big to span with your arms. A very ancient giant spruce is about 300 years old.
Restoring the forest is certainly a a lot better now, as it needs to do because today we can cut it so much faster as well. A helicopter logging operation whisks the best trees out of the woods at 200 km/h. How did we get from 50 kms a year with steam power to 200 an hour? After the Second World War, when at least the aircraft industry switched to selective logging from the awful slash-and-dash we started with, forest industry machines accelerated to a walking pace. Truly. You could walk alongside the museum's biggest not-quite-modern machines at full throttle without getting out of breath.
|Our latest acquisition, a Washington TL-6 self
propelled yarder, does 2.5 km/h on the flat and has to be pushed uphill by a Cat -- and pulled as well
if the grade is steep. The enormous 1969 Madill Spar already at the museum is built on a Second War tank
chassis, weighs 60 tons, and doesn't do wheelies either.
Today's diesel skidders look like toys beside our Le Tourneau Electric Arch built in 1957. It weighs 30 tons and in 1960 was driven -- on the road -- from Terrace down to tidewater at Kitimat. That must have been something to see; it takes up the whole road! The company thinks our Electric Arch is the last one in existence.
|These days diesel/hydraulic is the way to go and log trucks race along at highway speeds and many can load their own logs. Our representative log truck is a
little different. It's a Kenworth from the Sixties, but it is chain drive like a bicycle. Two chains on
each side in case one breaks. Good idea because if both break the truck makes a sudden turn off the road.
We've talked about the big machines because they make impressive pictures; we're just like the TV newcasters in that respect. Inside the museum building you'll find more logging paraphernalia going from hand tools to the first generations of chainsaws. Imagine spending half a day cutting a tree with a two-man crosscut saw. Even the first chainsaws took two people to carry and use, you couldn't could throw one of those over your shoulder and trot off through the woods.
Between the inside items and the dinosaurs standing in the grass are some intermediate items in the museum's driving shed. Pride of place in the shed goes to a completely restored Tugaway pole-railway tractor converted in 1927 from a Fordson farm tractor (see the 'Getting Around' page).
Getting Around | Steam Donkey | Home Life
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