Uncovering Logging and Lumberjack History

Northland Uncovered: Tom's Logging Camp

DULUTH, Minn. – Shipping and mining are a couple of the industries many think of when picturing the beginnings of this region, but another profession also kept thousands of men employed.

In this week’s Northland Uncovered we head to Tom’s Logging Camp just up Highway 61.

“There was almost no protections. If you got hurt you were kind of out of luck,” said Bill Weckman, owner of Tom’s Logging Camp.

It was a dangerous job, but worth the risk to many.

Thousands of men taking on the challenge for the development of the country.

“Houses didn’t just pop up outta nowhere they had to get the wood for everything they did from somewhere,” explained Weckman.

Creating camps as they worked, these loggers made connections in the region.

“As they moved through the Northland they rented local horses,” said Weckman.

Utilizing these local horses wasn’t just a convenience.

“They would get back a horse with beautiful muscle tone in perfect condition. So, it was a win–win. Really everything worked together. There was no waste in those days,” said Weckman.

This machine was used to make routes for the horses and loads of logs.

“They had to be geniuses at what they did. The barn boss almost had to be a magician of sorts. He had to almost see a horse’s problems before they developed,” said Weckman.

Keeping track of the animal’s health was imperative in the winter.

“That way the bog would be frozen they could get the logs out without having to be chest deep in muck and fighting mosquitos and heat exhaustion,” said Weckman.

In Duluth, just up the North Shore, a replica logging camp is carrying on the tradition so the state history is never forgotten.

“There’s still white pine left, but not to the extent that there was. To have pictures of the loads coming out of the woods is really neat and all the various equipment is fun to look at,” said Weckman.

Sharing stories and education of one of the country’s first industries.

“It was quite a wealthy time in the nation’s development because this is where the infrastructure came from was Minnesota and Wisconsin,” explained Weckman.

Tom’s Logging Camp is located at 5797 N Shore Dr, Duluth, MN 55804.

They can be reached at (218) 525-4120, or visited online.

Tom’s Logging Camp is open seven days a week through the third weekend in October.

They also offer homemade sandwiches, soups and ice cream for visitors.

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