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