Saturday, May 30, 2009
WHEN LUMBER WAS KING
A while back I posted about my maternal grandfather, who was a teamster in the original sense of the word, and in charge of the horse teams that went out to the logging camps in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula around the turn of the previous century. Then I recalled this photo of my paternal grandfather, who was a engineer for the E&LS—the Escanaba & Lake Superior—Railroad Company. Here, from the E&LS website:
The Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad (E&LS) is a privately owned shortline railroad company operating in Northeastern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Under current ownership, the E&LS has expanded from the original core line of 65 miles that was purchased in 1978, to over 235 miles of operating railroad in 2005. The E&LSRR is headquartered in Wells, MI, with an additional office located in Green Bay, WI.
After a surprising minimum of digging in my attic storage, I found the photo. That’s my granddad at the window in the engine. Unfortunately, I don’t have any information about exactly where and when this photo was taken, but it would likely be sometime in the early 1900s as well. I’ve contacted the E&LS office, and hopes that I can determine a closer date using the engine number. The photo is kind of a vignette--or at least I hope it is--and that the surrounding area wasn’t as completely bleak as it looks. But of course, even without the voracious modern clear-cut machinery, timber was still very heavily logged back in those days.
I never knew my grandfather. He died before I was born, but I would have liked to hear about those days, as well as his boyhood in Quebec. And after having traced my family tree on both sides, I'm fascinated by the timing in which generations can follow each other. I once met a woman in Calgary who was a grandmother at 29, but in my family, my grandparents were all born in the late 1800s, and I’m a first-wave Baby Boomer, so in three generations, we touch three centuries!