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!

17 comments:

Beth P. said...

That is a fascinating story, Deb.
I think we should do a synchroblog with friends, informally, where everyone writes a story about heritage and ancestry and we link to each other's stories.

What say you?

That could have been my great-grandfather standing next to the locomotive...who knows?

Kevin said...

That's great that you're digging up the history. I've always been fascinated by the logging, mining and fishing practices of old. It sure was a hard way of life but at the same time had a certain "romance" attached to it.

Wonderful images.

bobbie said...

These are great photos! And isn't it fun to research your family? After Ralph died I was particularly concerned that Kitty, who was only six at the time, know her father as well as possible. I started with his family, and then my own. It was impossible to trace his beyond the next generation in Italy. But mine - oh boy! Good guys and bad guys and all!

Sylvia K said...

Fascinating story and family history! I've always enjoyed digging around in mine, too. Interesting photos, as well.

Great post, Deborah, as always! Have a great weekend!

Lin said...

my grandfather worked for the railroad also. many times you can find out more about their lives by studying the times and especially the histories of the communities and counties where they lived. It's fun to reconstruct their lives from different clues. Good luck.

Rose said...

Deb, I love posts such as this...it is history in a way. I like the picture you found.

My husband's maternal grandpa was an engineer. I never knew him, but have always wished I did.

mom/caryn said...

I find your family history fascinating... as well as the family histories of some of the other's who have shared them with us. I can only imagine how interesting I would find my own. I may have to break down and make some time to dig into it. It sounds like a great way to spend some time in the evenings rather than trying to pay attention as I watch my dearly beloved switch channels. I can only hang in there with that for 15 or 20 minutes before I have to find another activity to become engaged in.

Loved this post!!!

Shellmo said...

I love this history - the lumbering era always fascinated me! How great that you have that photo!!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

HI Deb, I have always been fascinated with trains. My Dad worked for the railroad---and I got to travel alot on the trains BACK then...

Love those two photos... AMAZING.

We got home this evening and had a wonderful couple of days in the North Carolina mountains.

Hugs,
Betsy

Sian said...

I love watching the patterns of history too. A few years ago I worked in a care home, the father of one of the elderly ladies there fought in the Boer War. That brought history very close indeed :o)

Sue said...

your comment about the different timing in families is interesting. In the past, the timing difference depended on whether your forebearer was the first, last or a middle child of the marriage as there was frequently more than a "generation" (20 years) between first and last child. These days, when there is only 1 or perhaps two children, the timing depends upon when the parents began having children. Some of my friends (all in their late 50's) have children still in high school, and others have grand children in college.

Dee said...

How very cool! I love family history and wish I knew more about my grandparents- who were dead before I was born as well.

Beth P. said...

Ok, Deborah!
Let's organize this just a little bit. Let's you and I and anyone else that wants to play, post to an invitation--how about for a week instead of a certain day-- that people post on their blogs about their ancestors, with photos if possible.

They will need to send the URLs of their posts to you and I and then we'll post a list of all of the bloggers we know that are blogging to the topic?

If you want, we can do more organizing on email
beth at virtualteahouse dot com

I think this will be fun!

Quiet Paths said...

I really enjoy these historical posts of yours; you weave so much into them. The railroad was very important to my grandparents also; it brought a taste of civilization to the frontier - at least in their eyes.

Quiet Paths said...

Please keep me posted if you do a synchroblog on this topic!

Dee Martin said...

is was especially interesting to me. I grew up in Fair Haven, about 30 miles from Detroit and my Mom was from Canada. Her father had migrated from England to Quebec and later moved to Hamilton Ontario. Now I'm in Texas reading about a history that is similar to my own. Paternal grandparents came from Indiana from coal mining people. My family, as yours, touches three centuries in three generations.

fourwindsphotojournal said...

Great post, Deb. Where in Quebec was your grandfather from? So interesting to read about your family background.

The town my husband lived in up on the Quebec border was a logging town, and most of the families were from Quebec. Also, all my mom's people in Oregon were loggers, including my dad, while they lived there.

You are lucky to have photos. I have very few.