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Random Artifact Time: Photoshop c.1911

Photoshop c.1911.

Altering photographs is not a new process only made possible through computers. Photographers have long had ways of altering their images to show what they wanted to show.

This postcard (LM76.13.105) shows the “breaking” of the Bayless Dam at Austin, PA. Obviously, the photographer could not possibly be standing at the base of the dam as it broke. This image was most likely achieved by scrapping portions of the emulsion away from the glass plate negative to create the white space, simulating the effect of rushing waters.


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Turkey Talk: CCC Thanksgiving Menu

This time as we talk turkey, let’s talk about actual turkey. Turkey, “Roast Young Vermont Turkey” to be exact, was on the menu for the Thanksgiving meal at Civilian Conservation Corps Camp S-81 Slate Run. This Thanksgiving menu (LM2018.2.1) is from 1933, the first year of the Civilian Conservation Corps program. The menu lays out a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Not only is there turkey but also chestnut dressing, cranberry sauce, two kinds of potatoes, salad, vegetables, and several deserts including, of course, pumpkin pie. The menu includes a roster of the men in CCC Company 364.

Food was an important part of life in the CCC. Part of the appeal of enlisting into the CCC for many of it’s young enrollees was access to regular meals. Food insecurity was felt by many during the great depression and many men entered the CCC underfed. In his 1937 annual report the Director of the CCC noted that it was estimated that the average new enrollee gained 8 to 12 pounds after 6 months in the Corps. It is likely that many members of Company 364 wouldn’t have had access to such a Thanksgiving feast if it wasn’t for the CCC.

This meal was prepared by the cooks of Camp S-81, including Merrill Bowen. Mr. Bowen was a member of the Seneca Nation and a descendant of the Seneca Chief, Cornplanter. After his time in the CCC, Mr. Bowen was active in Tribal matters and served the President of the Cornplater Land Owners Corporation. This menu, and photographs of Merrill Bowen’s time in the CCC were donated to the museum.

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Turkey Path

Let’s talk turkey, the Turkey Path trail. Located about 30 miles east of the PA Lumber Museum, the Turkey Path is a popular trail that goes down into the Pine Creek Gorge. The trail can be started at either Leonard Harrison State Park or Colton Point State Park, two parks that are on opposite sides of the Pine Creek Gorge. The path reportedly started life as a mule drag to haul lumber down the gorge to the creek. This 2.5 mile trail is often listed as two separate trails and the signage refers to them as “down and back” trails. This is because there is no bridge for the trail to cross Pine Creek at the bottom of the gorge. If you don’t mind getting your feet wet (and maybe a little more than your feet depending on the water level), the creek can be forded.

Leonard Harrison State Park Side

The Leonard Harrison side of the Turkey Path starts at the overlook for the PA Grand Canyon (Pine Creek Gorge). The trailhead is not far from the main parking lot, right past the main entrance building. This building has seasonally opened flush restrooms and a gift shop as well as some vending machines outside. The trail is a mile down to the bottom of the gorge where it meets up with the Pine Creek Rail Trail. Along the path down the trail follows the Little Four Mile Run and features waterfall views and overlooks.

Colton Point State Park Side

The trailhead of the Turkey Path on the Colton Point side is also easily accessed from the main loop road in the park, near a parking area. Fair warning, unlike Leonard Harrison, Colton Point has primitive facilities. There are only a couple of pit lateens available for use. One the plus side Colton Point tends to have lower visitor traffic than Leonard Harrison, providing for a more secluded experience. This side of the trail is a 1.5 mile hike and at times follows Four Mile Run.

If you plan on hiking the Turkey Path, be prepared. The trails can be steep and are rated “Difficult”. Wear proper footwear and bring water along. Due to safety concerns the Turkey Path is closed in the winter months from the Wednesday before November until the second Friday in April. (So a November post might not be the best time to be telling you all about the trail but we are working with a “turkey” theme here.) Please check the websites for Leonard Harrison or Colton Point for any updates on the trail.

Leonard Harrison State Park:

Colton Point State Park:

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Random Artifact Time: Watercolor of Turkey Oak Leaves (LM80.5.11)

It is November so lets talk turkey. This watercolor of Turkey Oak Quercus cerris leaves and acorn is one of 50 paintings that Graceanna Lewis (1821-1912) was commissioned to paint for the Pennsylvania Forestry Exhibit at the 1893 Columbian Exposition. There is a caption of the back of the painting, “TURKEY OAK. Quercus Cerris. Branch with green leaves. Branch with autumnal leaves and acorns of the first year. Ripened acorn of the second year.”

The Turkey Oak Quercus cerris is native to South Eastern-Europe and Asia Minor. In fact the tree is named after the country of Turkey and not the bird. As such it should ne be confused with the American Turkey Oak Quercus laevis, a tree native to the Southeastern United States, which is named after the bird because the shape of it’s leaves is said to resemble a turkey’s foot.

Despite being a non-native to the US the Turkey Oak is tolerant of most soil types (except wet) and can tolerant the heat, cold, drought, and air pollution, which makes them a good choice for landscaping in parking lots and urban areas. These trees can grow up to 130 feet but are usually found in the 30 to 50 foot range. (Reference: “US Forest Service Fact Sheet ST-544 Oct. 1994” )

Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris) image from Consultaplantas via
Watercolor painting “Turkey Oak Quercus cerris by Graceanna Lewis (LM80.5.11)
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What chainsaw did that movie use? – Evil Dead Series (1981)

Hail to the king, baby! Ashley “Ash” Williams, played by Bruce Campbell, has been battling ‘Deadites’ through three movies, a TV Series, and several video games for nearly 40 years. Ash’s weapon’s of choice are his 12-gauge Remington double-barreled “Boomstick” (Shop smart, shop S-Mart) and his iconic chainsaw hand.

Army of Darkness (1992) poster. The third movie in the series. Image from

The chainsaw makes it’s first appearance in the original 1981 Evil Dead movie. In this movie the chainsaw used is a Homelite XL-12. The XL-12 was introduced in 1963 and is credited with being the first “lightweight” chainsaw. The “12” in the model number indicates that the saw weighed 12 pounds. The Ash Williams character uses this chainsaw to great effect, and makes it through the movie with both of his hands in-tact.

By the second movie, Evil Dead II (1987), the props master switched the chainsaw that Ash uses to a Homelite XL, a newer and lighter (at 8 pounds) model. After some heavy modification, this Homelite XL would literally become a part of Ash for the rest of the series. (Direct arm attachments for the Homelite XL were not factory issue.)

The Home Electric Lighting Company was founded by Charles Ferguson in Port Charles, NY in 1921. The name was later shortened to Homelite. The company initially manufactured small, gasoline-powered electric generators. After World War II, Homelite began manufacturing other small engine products, and introduced their first chainsaw in 1946. Fittingly, considering the company’s original name, the first Homelite chainsaw was an electric model.

The Lumber Museum has a Homelite Model 26LCS chainsaw in our collection (LM2015.10.1). This model, introduced in 1951, was the second gasoline-powered chainsaw Homelite made; the first being the model 20MC introduced the year before. The museum’s 26LCS has a history of use in the Southern Tier of NY and the Northern Tier of PA. The saw switched hands between five different owners and was generally used for clearing and firewood preparation. Seeing as this saw weighs approximately 27 pounds, it’s likely a good thing that Ash didn’t have to use a Model 26LCS for a hand.

Homelite Model 26LCS (LM2015.10.1)
“Well Hello Mr. Fancy Pants”-Ash Williams Funko Pop figure (Private Collection)
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What chainsaw did that movie use? – Dark of the Sun (1968)

It is quite possible that the first movie to show a chainsaw used as a weapon was the 1968 film “Dark of the Sun”. The movie, staring Rod Taylor and Jim Brown, follows a team of mercenaries that are sent after a horde of diamonds during the African Congo Crisis.

Dark of the Sun Movie Poster (image

The movie features a fight scene where Peter Carsten’s ex-Nazi Capt. Henlein attacks Rod Taylor’s Capt. Bruce Curry with a chainsaw. The chainsaw used in the attack appears to be a McCulloch Model 3-10 (or possibly a Model 4-10 or 5-10). Regardless of the specific model, this type of chainsaw was made by the McCulloch Motor Corporation during the mid-1960’s. McCulloch chainsaws were made in Los Angeles, CA, a long way from the African Congo, but very close to a Hollywood studio. “Dark of the Sun” was considered to be a very violent film for it’s time.

Chainsaw fight!
McCulloch 3-10 (image from ebay)

The Lumber Museum has an earlier McCulloch Chainsaw, a Model 47 on display in our exhibits. The Model 47 was made between 1953 and 1956. It weighed-in at a hefty 26 pounds; ten years later in 1966 the McCulloch Model 3-10 cut the weight of the saw down to a mere 15 pounds. This made the M3-10 much easier to swing at Rod Taylor’s head.

The Lumber Museum’s McCulloch Model 47 (LM2017.1.1)

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What chainsaw did that movie use? – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

As Halloween approaches it is a good time to watch your favorite horror movies. Chainsaws are a popular choice for many a horror movie character, but did you ever wonder ‘what type of chainsaw is that?’

“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was released in 1974 and quickly became a horror classic. The chainsaw used by Leatherface in the “Chainsaw Massacre” was a Poulan 306a. In the movie there was a piece of black tape over the brand name but the green case gives it away.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre theatrical poster image via Wikipedia
Poulan 306a chainsaw image via

The Poulan 306a was introduced in 1970 and produced until 1980. The Poulan Company was founded by lumberjack Claude Poulan in 1946. The company was located in Shreveport, Louisiana, making the 306a a nice local option for a “Texas” chainsaw massacre.

The Lumber Museum does not have a Model 306a in our collection but we do have a Poulan Model 52 (LM2018.6.1A-B) Introduced in 1951, this two-man saw was the first chainsaw to be designed and produced in-house by the Poulan Company. This collection piece was used during demonstrations at the Woodsmen’s Carnival at Cherry Springs Park in the 1950’s by Robert Peffer, who sold chainsaws from his Harmony, PA store.

The Engine of the Poulan Model 52 saw showing where the bar attaches (LM2018.6.1A)
Side View of the Poulan Model 52 (LM2018.6.1A)
The Bow Bar for the Poulan Model 52 (LM2018.6.1B)

As a heavy saw requiring two-man operation, this Poulan Model 52 would not be the practical choice for a Texas chainsaw massacre…

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A look at the Archives

October is American Archives Month, as such it seems like a good time to take a quick look at the archival collection at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum. As a museum we collect both 3D artifacts as well as 2D archival material, which differs from a Archive, such as the State Archives, that focuses more on the archival records to the exclusion of 3D artifacts.

The Lumber Museum’s archival collection is located in the back half of our collection storage area. This area has moveable compact storage with individual shelves sized to hold archival file boxes.

One Unit in the Archival Storage Area.

The boxes that are used for storage are all made of acid-free material to help preserve the records. The boxes also help prevent exposure of the archival material to UV light. Paper and photographic materials are sensitive to light exposure as it will cause fading. The strings that can be seen are there to make it easier to pull a box from the shelf, just be sure not to hold a box just by the string.

The archival collection at the Lumber Museums consists of 2D paper materials such as primary source records, such as the ledgers from a Lumber Company , photographic negatives and prints, posters and maps. Rare books, brochures, and pamphlets are also included in the Lumber Museum’s archives. The photos below provide a look into some of the types of items in our archival collection.

To further explore American Archives Month, check our the Pennsylvania State Archives online.

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Random Artifact Time: Austin Dam Break Photos

One hundred and nine years ago, on September 11, 1911, a dam built on Freeman Run north of the town of Austin, Potter County, PA, broke. The the ensuing flood caused significant damage to Austin and to the town of Costello further downstream. Seventy-eight people lost their lives during the disaster.

The concrete impoundment dam at Austin was built by the Bayless Pulp and Paper Company in 1909. Almost immediately concerns were raised about the dam’s safety. Cost saving shortcuts in the design, including a draw-off pipe with a wood cap that could not be operated when the water level rose too high, compromised the integrity of the dam. Even before it was filled with water cracks were noticed in the face of the dam. Despite warning signs and the urging of concerned individuals the Bayless Co. did nothing to sure-up the dam, and at this point in history there was no official regulation regarding dam safety in Pennsylvania. Even in the aftermath of the Johnstown Flood in 1889 (another severe dam failure disaster), the PA legislature failed to pass new safety laws or regulations. It took the Austin Dam disaster for changes to be made.

The ruins of the dam can be visited today at the Austin Dam Memorial Park, located approximately 20 miles southwest of the museum along Route 872.

These images from our archival collection (LM2018.3) document the aftermath of flood’s destruction.

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Pennsylvania Lumber Versus Pirates

In honor of “Talk Like A Pirate Day” (September 19, 2020), here’s the story a wooden Pennsylvania-built sailing ship that took on pirates.

The old growth forests of “Penn’s woods” provided ample material for the construction of wooden sailing ships. Especially desirable was the Eastern white pine; with its tall, straight trunk it was ideal for use as ship masts. Pine trees were also used to produce pine tar, used as waterproofing in ship construction. With prime access to these forest resources Philadelphia be came a major center for shipbuilding in the 1700’s.

After the American Revolution the newly formed United States disbanded its Continental Navy in 1785. The ships were sold-off by our new nation which lacked the funds to maintain them. Unfortunately, this left the United States without an armed maritime presence until the U.S. Revenue-Marine (fore-runner to the modern Coast-Guard) was founded in 1790. The U.S. Revenue-Marine only consisted of ten small cutters that could patrol the US coasts, leaving American merchant vessels largely unprotected on the high seas.

Prior to independence, American merchant vessels were under the protection of the powerful British navy. Once this protection ceased these ships were vulnerable to attack from pirates and privateers, especially from pirates operating around the Barbary Coast of Africa, supported by local nations.

The Barbary States demanded tribute to be paid in exchange for not attacking American shipping. The United States initially agreed to pay these tributes but the political humiliation of paying for protection from pirates led to the creation of the United States Navy with the Naval Act of 1794.

The Naval Act of 1794 proved for the construction of six frigates. These frigates were designed by noted Philadelphia shipbuilder Joshua Humpherys. The first of the frigates, the “USS United States” was build by Humpherys at his shipyard and launched in 1797. The “USS Constitution” is the last surviving ship of the original six frigates and is the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat. (You can tour “Old Ironsides” at the Charleston Navy Yard, Boston, MA.)

To complement these six frigates the citizens of Philadelphia raised money through subscription to build a seventh frigate to gift to the new national navy. Laid down in November of 1798 and launched in November of 1799 the frigate “Philadelphia” was constructed at Humpherys’ shipyard. While there may have been patriotic inspirations behind Philadelphians’ desire to fund a new ship to give to the US Navy, it was also in the best interest of the merchant men who’s ships were in need of protection.

Birch, William Russell, Engraver. Preparation for War to defend Commerce. The Swedish Church Southwark with the building of the Frigate Philadelphia
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States, 1800. Retrieved from the Library of Congress
The “USS Philadelphia” was originally named “The City of Philadelphia”- Philadelphia Gazette November 29th 1799

Under the command of Captain Stephen Decatur (Sr.) the “USS Philadelphia” ‘s first action was not against pirates but against the French during the Quasi-War. The Quasi-War with France was an undeclared war fought on the seas in response to France’s violation of American neutrality during the Napoleonic War. Much like the Barbary pirates, the French Navy had been capturing unprotected American merchant vessels and men. During her first cruise (1800-1801) the “Philadelphia” captured five French ships and freed six US merchant vessels that had been captured by the French.

During the Quasi-War with France, the Barbary States and their pirates continued to capture American merchant men and demand high ransoms for their return. President Jefferson, determined to cease payment to pirates, sent US Navy ships to the Barbary Coast for a fight that would become known as the “First Barbary War”.

The “USS Philadelphia” joined the blockade of Tripoli in 1802. After briefly returning to the United States, “Philadelphia” re-engaged at Tripoli with Captain William Bainbridge in command. On October 31st, 1803, while giving chase to a pirate ship, “Philadelphia” ran aground on an uncharted reef. Immobilized, the ship and crew were captured by the pirates. This setback led to a daring raid on February 16th, 1804 by Lieutenant Stephen Decatur (Jr.), son of the “USS Philadelphia” ‘s first captain. Lieutenant Decatur and a volunteer crew sailed the captured Tripolian ketch “Mastico” (renamed “Intrepid”) into the enemy’s harbor. Unaware that the ketch was under American command, the Tripolians allowed it to pull up next to the refloated “Philadelphia”. Decatur and his men boarded the ship, defeated the crew and managed to set it on fire before safely returning to open sea.

Decatur and his men driving the Pirates off the captured Philadelphia. Image- US Naval History and Heritage Command
Burning of the USS Philadelphia by Edward Moran 1897- Image US Naval History and Heritage Command

While the “Philadelphia” may have met a sad fate, the show of force of the new US Navy, largely comprised of Philadelphia-built ships made of Pennsylvania lumber, eventually put an end to the threat of Barbary pirates on American shipping.