Blade

Round River

James MacGillivray. "Round River."
The Press [Oscoda, Michigan] 10 August 1906.

Round River Bunyan

Round River

Reason a log rolls? ‘Cause she’s round
Pervidin of course that she’s
Perfec’ly sound.
If you want a good dog―get a hound!

“We’d placed our camps on the rivers’ bank we didnt know it was Round River then and we put in over a hundred million feet, the whole blamed cut comin’ off one forty.”

“You see that forty was built like one of them ‘Gypsum’ pyramids, and the timber grew clear to the peak on all four sides. It was lucky, too, that we had such an incline, for after we’d been snowed in, shuting off supplies, Double jawed Phalen got walking in his sleep one night and chewed the only grindstone in the camp. So the boys used to take big stones from the river bed and start them rolling from the top of the hill. They’d follow them down on the dead jump, holdin’ their axes on them, which was sharp when they get to the bottom. We’d a shoot for the timber on all four sides and when we was buildin’ the last one on the west, away from the river, we comes across a deer runway. Fourty four Jones, kindo straw boss, was building the slide, and he liked game. But he didn’t say nothin’, though I knowed he had an idea.

“Sure enough, Jones gets up early next mornin’, and he caught the deer comin’ down to drink, and he starts the logs down that shoot and kills more’n two hundred of them. We had venison steaks all winter, which went fine with the pea soup.

“That pea soup didn’t trouble the cook much. You see, we’d brought in a whole wagon load of peas, and the wagon broke down on the last corduroy and dumped the whole mess over into the springs. The teamster came in sorry-ful like expectin’ a tote road ticket, but Canada Bill he says to Bunyan, ‘Its all right Paul, them is hot springs.’ So he puts some pepper and salt, and a hunk of pork in the springs, and we’d pea soup to last us the whole job, but it kept the flunkies busy a totin’ it in from the springs.

“That Round River Ox team was the biggest ever heard of I guess. They weighed forty-eight hundred. The barn boss made them a buckskin harness from the hides of the deer we killed; and the bull cook used them haulin’ dead timber to camp for wood supply.

“But that buckskin harness queered them oxes when it got wet.

“You know how buckskin will stretch?

“It was rainin’ one mornin’ when the bull cook went for wood, and he put the tongs on a big wind-fall and started for camp. The oxes pull all right but that blamed harness got stretchin’, and when the bull-cook gets his log into camp it wasn’t there at all.

“He looks back and there was the tugs of that harness stretched out in long [lines] disappearin’ round the bend of the road as far as he could see. He’s mad and disgusted like, and he jerks the harness off and throws the tugs over a stump. It clears up pretty soon and the sun comes out, dryin’ up that harness, and when the bull cook comes out from dinner, there’s his wind-fall hauled right into camp.

“Its a fright how deep the snow gets that winter in one storm, and she’d melt just as quick.

“Bunyan sent me out crusein’ one day and if I hadn’t had snow shoes I wouldn’t be here now to tell you. Comin’ back, I hit the log road though I wouldn’t knowed it was there but for the swath line through the tree tops. I saw a whip-lash cracker lyin’ ther on the snow. Hello¡; says I, someone’s lost their whip-lash and I see it was Tom Hurley’s by the braid of it. I hadn’t any more’n picked it up ‘fore it was jerked out of my hand, and Tom yells up, Leave that whip of mine alone d―m ye! I’ve got a five hundred log peaker on the forty foot bunks and eight horses down here, and I need the lash to get her to the landin’.

“They was big trees what Bunyan lumbered that winter, and one of them pretty near made trouble.

“They used to keep a compitisun board hung in the commisary showin’ what each gang sawed for the week and that’s how it happened

“Dutch Jake and me had picked out the biggest tree we could find on the west side of the forty, and we’d put in three days on the felling cut with our big saw, what was three cross-cuts brazed together, makin’ thirty feet of teeth. We was getting’ along fine on the fourth day when lunchtime comes and we thouhht we’d best get on the sunny side to eat So we grabs our basket and starts round that tree. We hadn’t gone far when we hears a noise―and blamed if there wasn’t Bill Carter and Sailor Jack sawin’ at the same tree.

“It looked like a fight at first, but we compromised meetin’ each other at the heart on the seventh day. They’d hacked her to fall to the North, and we’d hacked her to fall to the South, and there that blamed tree stood for a month or more, sawed clean through, but not knowin’ which way to drop ‘til a wind storm came one night and blowed her over.

“Right in front of the bunk-house was a monster schoolmam, what’s two trees growed as one, so big she’da put the linen mills out of business. Joe Benoit and Dolph Burgoyne used to say their A, B, C’s in front of her, and they soon learned to read and swear in English. “You should have seen the big men what Bunyan put on the landin’ that spring when they commenced breakin’ the rollways. All six footers and two hundred pounds weight. Nothin’ else could classify, and the fellows what didn’t come up to the regulations was tailed off to burn smudges, just to keep the mosquitos from botherin’ the good men. Besides the landin’ men got a double allowance of booze.

“I’ll tell you how it come.

“Sour faced Murphy, was standin’ in the kitchen one day lookin’ worse than usual, and the first thing the flunky knowed the water and potato parrins in his dish began to sizzle, and he saw right away that it was Murphy’s face what was fermentin’ them. He strained the thing off, and sure enough he has some pretty fair booze which was much like Irish whiskey. After that Bunyan took Murphy off the road and gave him a job as a distillery.

“She broke up early that spring the river was runnin’ black and high, and all hands went on the drive. Bunyan was sure that we would hit the ‘Sable or Muskegon, and he cared a dam which for logs was the same price everywheres.

“We’d run that drive for four weeks, makin’ about a mile a day with the rear, when we struck a camp what had been lumberin’ big and had gone with their drive (what must have been at most as large as Bunyan’s) They’d been cuttin’ on a hill forty too, which was peculiar, for we didn’t know there could be two such places. We drove along for another month and hits another camp and another hill forty, deserted like the last one, and Bunyan begins to swear for he sees the price of logs [sinkin’] with all this lumberin’.

“Well, [we started] and pulled [them] logs for [five] weeks more and blamed if we don’t hit another hill forty then Bunyan gets wild! “Boys” he says, ‘if we strike any more of these d―m camps logs wont be worth thirty cents a thousand, and I wont be able to pay you off―perhaps some of you wants to bunch her? Lets camp and talk it over” he says. So we hits for the deseted shacks, and turnin the bunkhouse corner we who was leadin buts right into―our schoolmam!

“Then we knowed it was round river.”

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