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” )
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
As a heavy saw requiring two-man operation, this Poulan Model 52 would not be the practical choice for a Texas chainsaw massacre…
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.
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.
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.
How can you tell which bunk is yours in a bunkhouse full of identical beds? Why with a bunk tag of course. Members in the Civilian Conservation Corps had metal tags with their names on them that hung at the foot of their bunk. This tag (LM2011.7.1A-B) belonged to Fred Wintersteen, who was in Company 342 at Camp S-88 Lyman Run.
Bunk tags can been seen in these photos of the interior of a bunkhouse at Camp S-88 Lyman Run
A Gunter’s Chain is a tool that was used by surveyors as a means of measuring land. This tool was named after Edmund Gunter, the English mathematician and astronomer who invented it in 1620. A Gunter’s chain is 66 feet long and divided into 100 links with each link measuring 7.92 inches. In this system, 10 square chains equals 1 acre and 80 chains equals 1 statute mile.
The Gunter’s chain would become a standard tool for surveyors in England and throughout the English Colonies and Territories (This included the United States as a former colony). “Link and Chain” are official measurements used in British Imperial Units. Gunter’s chains eventually were replaced by steel ribbon tape, a type of wound tape measure.
Surveying land was important to the PA lumber industry as accurate measurements were required for sale, transfer and harvest of individual timber tracts. Later as the Commonwealth started to purchase and acquire deforested land, surveyors were used to measure out boundaries for state forest and park land. Though Gunter’s chains are now obsolete as a surveying tool, knowledge of their use and measurements in links and chains is useful when dealing with old land deeds and maps.
This Gunter’s Chain (L69.1.42) was donated by the Penn State School of Forestry.
Civilian Conservation Corps Camps served as their own little communities, providing almost everything a CCC Enrollee could need. In addition to the Barraks and Mess Hall, camp included, Rec Halls and other recreation facilities, classroom, and medical facilities. The camps also included Camp Exchanges or Canteens, small stores that sold useful everyday items that an Enrollee could want but that wasn’t issued by the CCC. Such items could include toiletries, candy and snacks, soft-drinks, tobacco, writing paper, etc. Beer was allow to be sold at the Canteen of the Veterans’ Camps, who’s members were veteran’s of WWI and thus older than the regular Enrollees. These Camp Exchanges were a benefit to the camp in several ways. The men wouldn’t have to wait until they could get permission to go to town (which could be a distance from camp) to make a purchase. They could visit the Exchange after dinner when their day was done and there was time to relax. Any profit that was made by the Exchange was put back into the camp and could be used to buy next recreational equipment or other items for the benefit of the men.
Enrollees could request coupon books on credit, like the one above, and use the coupons as payment at the Exchange. These books were issued in $1 amounts and were filled with individual coupons worth 5 or 10 cents. When the monthly payday came around a Enrollee would receive his 5 dollars a month (after 25 dollars automatically was sent home). Any amount owed to the Exchange was taken out of that 5 dollar pay.
Prior to the Civil War the United States Government did not issue paper money for wide spread circulation. The paper money that was used in everyday transaction were known as Bank Notes and were issued by private banks. These bank notes promised payment in species (hard money) but only at the bank that issued the note.
This Five Dollar Bank Note (L72.60.1) was issued by The Lumberman’s Bank of Warren. This bank was chartered on February 28th, 1834 and was the first bank to open in Warren, PA. The bank’s name is a nod to the importance of the lumber industry to the Warren County in the first half of the 19th century. According to the “History of Warren County” (1887) the first lumber raft headed down the Allegheny River from Warren to Pittsburgh in 1799 or 1801. An engraving of a sawmill is prominent on this bank note.
This bank only operated for a few years. It collapsed in 1838, a victim of the Panic of 1837, the first great economic depression in US history. The building that housed The Lumbermen’s Bank of Warren is still standing, known as the Mansion House.
This system of bank notes from individual banks had many flaws. This was especially evident while traveling. Since these notes were issued and backed by private banks and not the government there was no legal requirement for a store owner to accept them as payment. Often a bank note would lose it’s value the further away from the bank you got. A Tavern owner in Baltimore might only give you 4 dollars for this 5 dollar note from the Lumbermen’s Bank in Warren. If you happened to have this 5 dollar note after the Lumbermen’s Bank closed in 1838 it was worthless. There were as many as 8,000 different kinds of money in the US prior to the Civil War.