The Round River Drive

Douglas Malloch and James MacGillivray. "The Round River Drive."
American Lumberman 25 April 1914: 33.

Artist Unknown

The Round River Drive

'Twas '64 or '65
We drove the great Round River Drive;
'Twas '65 or '64-
Yes, it was durin' of the war,
Or it was after or before.
Those were the days in Michigan,
The good old days, when any man
Could cut and skid and log and haul,
And there was pine enough for all.
Then all the logger had to do
Was find some timber that was new
Besides a stream-he knew it ran
To Huron or to Michigan,
That at the mouth a mill there was
To take the timber for the saws.
(In those old days the pioneer
He need not read his title clear
To mansions there or timber here.)
Paul Bunyan, (you have heard of Paul?
He was the king pin of 'em all,
The greatest logger in the land;
He had a punch in either hand
And licked more men and drove more miles
And got more drunk in more new styles
Than any other peavey prince
Before, or then, or ever since.)
Paul Bunyan bossed that famous crew:
A bunch of shoutin' bruisers, too-
Black Dan MacDonald, Tom McCann,
Dutch Jake, Red Murphy, Dirty Dan,
And other Dans from black to red,
With Curley Charley, yellow-head,
And Patsy Ward, from off the Clam-
The kind of gang to break a jam,
To clean a bar or rassle rum,
Or give a twenty to a bum.

Paul Bunyan and his fightin' crew,
In '64 or '5 or '2,
They started out to find the pines
Without much thought of section lines.
So west by north they made their way
One hundred miles until one day
They found good timber, level land,
And roarin' water close at hand.

They built a bunk and cookhouse there;
They didn't know exactly where
It was and, more, they didn't care.
Before the spring, I give my word,
Some mighty funny things occurred.

Artist Unknown

Now, near the camp there was a spring
That used to steam like everything.
One day a chap that brought supplies
Had on a load of mammoth size,
A load of peas. Just on the road
Beside the spring he ditched his load
And all those peas, the bloomin' mess,
Fell in the spring-a ton I guess.
He come to camp expectin' he
Would get from Bunyan the G.B.
But Joe the Cook, a French Canuck,
Said, "Paul, I teenk it is ze luck-
Them spring is hot; so, Paul, pardon,
And we will have ze grand bouillon!"

To prove the teamster not at fault,
He took some pepper, pork and salt,
A right proportion each of these,
And threw them in among the peas-
And got enough, and good soup, too,
To last the whole of winter through.
The rest of us were kind of glad
He split the peas, when soup we had-
Except the flunkeys; they were mad
Because each day they had to tramp
Three miles and tote the soup to camp.

Joe had a stove, some furnace, too,
The size for such a hungry crew.
Say what you will, it is the meat,
The pie and sinkers, choppers eat
That git results. It is the beans
And spuds that are the best machines
For fallin' Norway, skiddin' pine,
And keepin' hemlock drives in line.
This stove of Joe's it was a rig
For cookin' grub that was so big
It took a solid cord of wood
To git a fire to goin' good.
The flunkeys cleaned three forties bare
Each week to keep a fire in there.
That stove's dimensions south to north,
From east to westward, and so forth,
I don't remember just exact,
And do not like to state a fact
Unless I know that fact is true,
For I would hate deceiving you.
Put in a mammoth batch of dough;
And then he thought (at least he tried)
To take it out the other side.
But when he went to walk around
The stove (it was so far) he found
That long before the bend he turned
The bread not only baked but burned.

We had two coons for flunkeys, Sam
And Tom. Joe used to strap a ham
Upon each foot of each of them
When we had pancakes each A.M.
They'd skate around the stove lids for
An hour or so, or maybe more,
And grease 'em for him. But one day
Old Pink-eye Martin (anyway
He couldn't see so very good),
Old Pink-eye he misunderstood
Which was the bakin'-powder can
And in the dough eight fingers ran
Of powder, blastin'-powder black-
Those niggers never did come back.
They touched a cake, a flash, and poof!
Went Sam and Tommie through the roof.
We hunted for a month or so
But never found 'em-that, you know,
It was the year of the black snow.

We put one hundred million feet
On skids that winter. Hard to beat,
You say it was? It was some crew.
We took it off one forty, too.
A hundred million feet we skid-
That forty was a pyramid;
It runs up skyward to a peak-
To see the top would take a week.
The top of it, it seems to me,
Was far as twenty men could see.
But down below the stuff we slides,
For there was trees on all four sides.

And, by the way, a funny thing
Occurred along in early Spring.
One day we seen some deer tracks there,
As big as any of a bear.
Old Forty Jones (he's straw-boss on
The side where those there deer had gone)
He doesn't say a thing but he
Thinks out a scheme, and him and me
We set a key-log in a pile,
And watched that night for quite a while.
And when the deer come down to drink
We tripped the key-log in a wink.
We killed two hundred in the herd-
For Forty's scheme was sure a bird.
Enough of venison we got
To last all Winter, with one shot.

Paul Bunyan had the biggest steer
That ever was, in camp that year.
Nine horses he'd out-pull and skid-
He weighed five thousand pounds, he did.
The barn boss (handy man besides)
Made him a harness from the hides
Of all the deer (it took 'em all)
And Pink-eye Martin used to haul
His stove wood in. Remember yet
How buckskin stretches when it's wet?
One day when he was haulin' wood,
(A dead log that was dry and good)
One cloudy day, it started in
To rainin' like the very sin.
Well, Pink-eye pounded on the ox
And beat it over roads and rocks
To camp. He landed there all right
And turned around-no log in sight!
But down the road, around the bend,
Those tugs were stretchin' without end.
Well, Pink-eye he goes in to eat.
The sun comes out with lots of heat.
It dries the buckskin that was damp
And hauls the log right into camp!

That was a pretty lucky crew
And yet we had some hard luck, too.
You've heard of Phalen, double-jawed?
He had two sets of teeth that sawed
Through almost anything. One night
He sure did use his molars right.
While walkin' in his sleep he hit
The filer's rack and, after it,
Then with the stone-trough he collides-
Which makes him sore, and mad besides.
Before he wakes, so mad he is,
He works those double teeth of his,
And long before he gits his wits
He chews that grindstone into bits.

But still we didn't miss it so;
For to the top we used to go
And from the forty's highest crown
We'd start the stones a-rollin' down.
We'd lay an ax on every one
And follow it upon the run;
And, when we reached the lowest ledge,
Each ax it had a razor edge.

So passed the Winter day by day,
Not always work, not always play.
We fought a little, worked a lot,
And played whatever chance we got.

Jim Liverpool, for instance, bet
Across the river he could get
By jumpin', and he won it, too.
He got the laugh on half the crew:
For twice in air he stops and humps
And makes the river in three jumps.

We didn't have no booze around,
For every fellow that we found
And sent to town for applejack
Would drink it all up comin' back.

One day the bull cook parin' spuds
He hears a sizzlin' in the suds
And finds the peelin's, strange to say,
Are all fermentin' where they lay.
Now Sour-face Murphy in the door
Was standin'. And the face he wore
Convinced the first assistant cook
That Murphy soured 'em with his look.
And when he had the parin's drained
A quart of Irish booze remained.
The bull cook tells the tale to Paul
And Paul takes Murphy off the haul
And gives him, very willingly,
A job as camp distillery.

At last, a hundred million in,
'Twas time for drivin' to begin.
We broke our rollways in a rush
And started through the rain and slush
To drive the hundred million down
Until we reached some sawmill town.
We didn't know the river's name,
Nor where to someone's mill it came,
But figured that, without a doubt,
To some good town 'twould fetch us out
If we observed the usual plan
And drove the way the current ran.

Well, after we had driven for
At least two weeks, and maybe more,
We come upon a pyramid
That looked just like our forty did.

Some two weeks more and then we passed
A camp that looked just like the last.
Two weeks again another, too,
That looked like our camp, come in view.

Then Bunyan called us all ashore
And held a council-like of war.
He said, with all this lumbering,
Our logs would never fetch a thing.
The next day after, Sliver Jim
He has the wits scared out of him;
For while he's breakin' of a jam
He comes upon remains of Sam,
The coon who made the great ascent
And through the cookhouse ceilin' went
When Pink-eye grabbed the fatal tin
And put the blastin' powder in.

And then we realized at last
That ev'ry camp that we had passed
Was ours. Yes, it was then we found
The river we was on was round.
And, though we'd driven many a mile,
We drove a circle all the while!
And that's the truth, as I'm alive,
About the great Round River drive.

What's that? Did ever anyone
Come on that camp of '61,
Or '63, or '65,
The year we drove Round River drive?
Yes, Harry Gustin, Pete and me
Tee Hanson and some two or three
Of good and truthful lumbermen
Came on that famous camp again.
In west of Graylin' 50 miles,
Where all the face of Nature smiles,
We found the place in '84-
But it had changed some since the war.
The fire had run some Summer through
And spoiled the logs and timber, too.
The sun had dried the river clean
But still its bed was plainly seen.
And so we knew it was the place
For of the past we found a trace-
A peavey loggers know so well,
A peavey with a circle L,
Which, as you know, was Bunyan's mark.
The hour was late, 'twas gittin' dark;
We had to move. But there's no doubt
It was the camp I've told about.
We eastward went, a corner found,
And took another look around.
Round River so we learned that day,
On Section 37 lay.

Query and Comment to paulb AT