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What chainsaw did that movie use? (Star Wars Day Edition)- Return of the Jedi (1983)

May the 4th be with you! What do you do when the Galactic Empire is invading your forest planet and your only defense involves cutting down trees, yet you are part of a pre-industrial society that hasn’t developed metal working technology? Just rely on your trusty, time tested stone ax!

Ewok with a stone axe (photo: Disney)

The Ewoks were able to use their dense forest home to their advantage against a mechanized foe.

The Empire’s AT-ST walkers proved surprising vulnerable to logs. (Photo: Disney)

The forest planet of Endor was in reality California’s redwood forests, where the filming took place. The stone axe was in reality a foam headed prop, not suitable for cutting logs at all!

One of the prop axes sold at auction in 2018 for $11,250. Movie Prop Axe (Photo Julien’s Auction)

The Lumber Museum has two stone axe heads on display in our main exhibit.

Archaeology Section, State Museum of Pennsylvania (LE/111) and (Archy NC1)

These stone axe heads represent a 3/4 groove head style of groundstone axe. Stone axes and other stone implements were common objects used by the Native Americans who lived on the land that would become known as Pennsylvania, from the end of the last Ice Age to contact with Europeans. The Pennsylvania Lumber Museum resides in the traditional homeland of the Seneca Nation, one of the Six Nations of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Confederacy.

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What chainsaw did that movie use? (St Patrick’s Day Edition)- Leprechaun 3 (1995)

Leprechaun 3 movie poster- Trimark Pictures

Are people always after your lucky charms? Well, with a bit o’ the “Luck of the Irish” and a trusty chainsaw you can easily recover your lost, wish-granting gold coins. At least that’s how the titular Leprechaun (played by Warwick Davis) goes about it in the 1995 straight-to-video movie: Leprechaun 3.

Screenshot- Leprechaun 3- Trimark Pictures
Screenshot- Leprechaun 3- Trimark Pictures

The Leprechaun is using a McCulloch Electramac EM300s electric chainsaw… perhaps ‘McCulloch’ is Scot-Irish? While it isn’t the most powerful choice, this electric chainsaw is a sensible option for use indoors, bisecting the magician Fazio. There will be no build-up of CO2 fumes from a gasoline-powered engine to worry about; the Leprechaun may be out to murder those who take his coins, but at least he isn’t going to subject the audience to carbon monoxide poisoning.

McCulloch Electramac EM300s

The first mass-produced electric chainsaw was invented by Andreas Stihl in 1926 and it predated the introduction of a gasoline-powered saw by a year. It was a large, two-man saw weighing over 100 pounds. It sold well despite this drawback, remaining in production until 1948. The applications this saw could undertake were limited because of the need for a cord to connect it to an electric power source.

The first electric chainsaw- image Stihl Corporation.

An electric chainsaw like the McCulloch Electramac EM300s is best suited to homeowners doing yard work, just as far as your extension cord can take you. As small/electric chainsaws are not well-suited to the rigors of forestry work or timber harvest, there are currently no electric chainsaws in the Lumber Museum’s collection (However, if anyone has a Stihl STG model that they want to donate, please let me know). The Lumber Museum does have a Stihl Model 017 light-weight 2-cycle chainsaw that was used by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) at Susquehannock State Forest in the early 2000s, on display as an example of tools used in modern forestry work.

Stihl Model 017 (LM2013.30.1) on Display

If you are interested in more information on McCulloch chainsaws and want to see one of the museum’s McCulloch saws, check out the December 2020 edition of the “What chainsaw did that movie use?” blog post.

And remember: if you happen to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it’s probably best just to leave it be.

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Random Artifact Time: Oleona Railroad Company Stock Certificate

North-central Pennsylvania had many short line logging railroads that were incorporated in the late 19th and early 20th century in service of the lumber industry. These railroads often only lasted a few years as production would move elsewhere after land was clear cut or a mill closed. One such railroad was the Oleona Railroad Company which transported lumber cut in the Kettle Creek Valley. Incorporated in 1901, the Oleona RR ran eight miles from Cross Fork, PA to Oleona, PA. The Goodyear Lumber Company financed and built the railroad but the only trains that operated on it belonged to the Lackawanna Lumber Company and the Pennsylvania Stave Company. Eventually, the Oleona RR was combined with the Oleona and Germania Railroad, an independent operator with five miles of track from Oleona to Germania Brook, resulting in a single 13 mile-long short line. After the last lands owned by the Lackawanna Lumber Company in the Kettle Creek Valley were cut the railroad was sold to the American Sugar Refining Company in 1908, the parent company of the Pennsylvania Stave Company. When their stave mill, located in Cross Fork, closed in 1912, the Oleona Railroad was dismantled. The two Shay locomotives that operated on the line were transferred to other logging railroads owned by the Brooklyn Cooperage Company, a subsidiary of the American Sugar Refining Company.

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What chainsaw did that movie use? (President’s Day Edition)- Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (2012)

Today, in honor of his 212th birthday, we look at Abraham Lincoln’s vampire hunting weapon of choice. Having died about 80 years before chainsaws were widely available, Abraham Lincoln had to do his rail splitting and vampire hunting with an axe.

While the axe in the movie poster above appears to be a Yankee or Delaware pattern, it seems that during the movie the 16th President favors a Baltimore-Kentucky pattern axe, perhaps an homage to his birth-state of Kentucky.

So, happy birthday to a great vampire hunter and an even greater President!

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Bragging Rights

November 30th, 1908 was a good day for the Emporium Lumber Company. That day their band saw mill at Austin, Pa sawed an estimated 11,704 board feet of lumber from just eleven logs. The logs were a mix of cherry and poplar tress. To commemorate this day, and to show off, the company had pictures taken of the big haul on log cars before it was cut at the mill. During the photo development process the tree type and estimated board feet for each log was labeled on the film. “Sawed at Emporium Lumber Co’s Mill Austin, PA” and “11-30-08” also appear on the images.

Emporium Lumber must have been very proud of these logs as the PA Lumber Museum has multiples copies of each image in our collection. The images, along with other papers and archival materials, were donated to the museum by the descendants of William Sykes, one of the co-founders of the Emporium Lumber Company. Someone commented on the back of one of the photo postcards (LM76.12.75)- “Wonderful size for a Cherry Tree”.

LM76.13.74
LM76.13.84

The volume of a log was estimated in board feet, with one board foot measuring 12 x 12 x 1 inches, or any combination equating to 144 cubic inches. Estimations of log volume were made with the assistance of a timber scale stick, used to measure the length and diameter of a sawed log. The log scaler (the person who’s job it was to take the measurements) could then work out a mathematical formula which could differ depending on the type of scale used. For the Doyle scale, one of the more popular scales at the turn of the 20th century, the equation was L((D-4)/4)squared. “L” was the length of the log and “D” was the small end diameter of the log. To simplify this process, “Ready Reckoner” books contained sets of tables to assist in the estimation.

Timber Scales on Display at the Lumber Museum
A Close up of L72.62.1 (the middle Scale in the above photo) showing that it measured using Doyle’s scale.
1868 edition of Hanna’s Ready Reckoner and Log Book (LM2019.20.1). This book contained many sets of useful tables for different lumber measurements.
Log Scalers at work (Photo file 7.70.7.23).
The images were turned into photo postcards. The words “POST CARD” which are printed on the back can be seen appearing in the front of this image. (LM76.13.86).

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CCC Winter Clothes and “CCC Boy, Winter Costume” by Sterling Smeltzer

It is winter in North-Central Pennsylvania; it is cold and the ground is covered in snow. The men of the Civilian Conservation Corps didn’t get snow days. They were out working year-round and needed winter clothes that kept them warm but also allowed them to perform their duties.

Ernest Wilson spent two winters in the CCC: the first at Camp S-133 Hammersley Fork where he was stationed from October 1934- June 1935, and the second at Camp S-122 Two Mile Run from July 1935- March 1936. His winter clothes are on display in the PA Lumber Museum’s main exhibit.

LM2010.7.4 Hat and LM2010.7.5A-B Coat and Pants

Similar clothing is depicted in the painting, “CCC Boy, Winter Costume” painted by Pennsylvania-born artist Sterling Smeltzer; currently in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

“CCC Boy, Winter Costume” by Sterling Smeltzer 1936, Smithsonian American Art Museum 1965.18.90

Sterling Smeltzer was born in Williamsburg, PA in 1908. He attended Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie-Mellon University) in Pittsburgh where he studied engineering and structural design and art. He graduated in 1931- right into the Great Depression. The Roosevelt administration created several programs that commissioned public art to employ out-of-work artists during this time. The first, The Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), was run by the US Treasury Department and was short-lived, lasting only from December 1933 to June 1934. Smeltzer was commissioned to paint a mural in the Altoona, PA post office for the PWAP, but this mural is currently unaccounted for. He was also commissioned to paint a post office mural in Willoughby, OH in 1938 that has also unfortunately been lost to time.

“CCC Boy, Winter Costume” was most likely painted by Smeltzer as part of the CCC Art Project that was operated by the US Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture, 1934-1937. As part of this program, artists were assigned to CCC camps to create art as a reflection of the life and accomplishments of CCC enrollees.

During his time in association with the CCC, Smeltzer was tasked with putting together an exhibit in a new museum located in a CCC-built structure situated in the CCC-developed Hawks Nest State Park in West Virginia. Smeltzer created several original paintings to help fill-out the exhibit. This small museum has been moved from the original CCC building, but reproductions of the paintings (displayed to preserve the originals) can be be viewed at the Ansted Culture and History Museum.

Sterling Smeltzer is listed on various websites as a “WPA” artist, but does not appear to have worked for the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). It seems to be a common mistake to label any artist who made art for the Federal Government during the Depression as a “WPA” artist. After the Depression, Smeltzer went on to work for Curtiss Aircraft in it’s industrial arts section. He eventually retired from North American Aviation and passed away in 1982. He is buried in Altoona.

Painting depicting travel on the Midland Trail by Sterling Smeltzer on display at the Ansted Cultural and History Museum.

Here are some images of CCC enrollees from Camp S-87 Ole Bull preforming winter work in 1936. These men working in the snow made sure to bundle up in their CCC-issued winter clothing.

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What chainsaw did that movie use? (Holiday Edition) – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Whether its trimming your tree down to size, preforming basic home repair, or cutting down a last minute replacement tree because Uncle Lewis burnt down the first one while lighting his stogie, the McCulloch 610 chainsaw’s got you covered. It is the chainsaw used by Clark W. Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Clark knows just where he will put that tree.

The McCulloch 610 was produced from the late 1970’s through the mid 1990’s. Despite being relatively heavy at 17- 18 pounds, the M-610 reportedly sold well as it was priced lower than similar saws from competing brands.

“She’s a Real Beaut, Clark” A McCulloch 610 AD from the early 1980’s

The McCulloch Motors Corporation was founded in 1943 and produced its first chainsaw (a two-man model) in 1948. A year later, the company introduced it’s first one man chainsaw, the Model 3-10. Lightweight for it’s time at 25 pounds, the saw would prove to be very successful. Over 112,000 M 3-10 saws were produced between October 1949 and March 1953. One of these 3-10s is part of the PA Lumber Museum’s object collection.

Fixed the Newel Post!

May you all have the Hap-Hap-Happiest Holidays since Bing Crosby tap danced with Danny Kaye!

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Random Artifact Time: Hemlock Price List, 1927

This price list pamphlet for dimensional-cut hemlock lumber (LM95.2.2) was issued by the Central Pennsylvania Lumber Company (CPL) in 1927. The CPL was a conglomerate established in 1903 to harvest and process timber on lands owned by the United States Leather Company. Known as the “Leather Trust,” the United States Leather Company was one of the nation’s largest corporations in 1900 and one of the twelve original companies listed on the Dow-Jones Industrial Average. The CPL would go on to be one of the last major lumber companies to operate in North-Central PA, following the true “heyday” of the industry around the turn of the 20th century.

Below is link to a historic film of CPL lumber operations in and around Sheffield, PA from 1926. This film shows elements of the entire process, from the forest to finished boards. Perhaps some of the hemlock subject to this price list can be seen in this film. Be on the lookout for an American Log Loader (similar to the museum’s Barnhart) and a Heisler locomotive.

YouTube video uploaded by North-Central PA Educator/Musician Van Wanger. Music by Van Wagner http://vanwagnermusic.com/

The Sheffield operation, which was the first mill owned and operated by the Central Pennsylvania Lumber Company, was also its last. The mill cut its final log in 1941.

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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.

LM76.13.105

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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.