Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
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Oconto County, Wisconsin
Mountain Memories
Pages 30 - 31

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The Holt Log Hauler came into full reign in the woodlands by the 1920s.  It may have traversed these lands' even before then, but I was not able to find the exact date. When I was a lad. Bill Bartz was the engineer and Cliff Elkey was its driver. Before that time, Clyde Davis worked as the 'fireman1 on the log hauler crew, stoking up the fire which fueled this steam driven tractor made by the Holt Company.
The Log Hauler belonged to the Holt Lumber Co. and was a steam driven locomotive with a set of sleigh runners in front with heavy steel tracks for propulsion under the back. The sleighs that this locomotive pulled were huge double bunk sleds with runners under each bunk being 8 feet or more long.  The Log Hauler pulled seven or eight of these sleighs which were piled eight to nine feet high with logs.
Roadways were maintained for the Log Hauler, these roads followed creeks and rivers for a definite reason. The roads were 'iced t after being packed down to ensure the passage of the loads. At measured intervals along the waterways, holes were created in the creek bed to enable a barrel to be lowered into them and filled. A boom was attached to the top of a large wooden tank so the filled barrel of water could be raised and dumped into this holding tank. When the tank was completely filled in this manner, horses pulled this load forward as one man at the back pulled large wooden plugs out of holes near the tank's bottom so the water would gush out over the roadway. Known as the sprinkler, this process was a necessary part of the logging operation and was done on the coldest of nights so the water could quickly freeze solid. By the time the tank on the sprinkler was empty, the [nen were at the next hole in the creek bed and so replenished their water supply.
The next step in roadway maintenance came in the contrivance known as the 'rutter1. This sleigh was a large heavy conveyance with a steel cutting blade that rut ruts in the iced road. The sleighs behind the Log Hauler found this rut and clung to it thus ensuring that the train of loaded sleighs would follow in a true course behind the steam locomotive. Where steep hills had to be traversed, there were barrels of sand placed at points along the roadway. These grades were
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then sanded in order to slow the downhill progress of the train, for no one could stop a runaway train of loaded sleighs if they began to push the Log Hauler forward.
I well remember a pileup of logging sleighs when just such an incident happened at a point about one mile north of County W east.  I refer to this logging accident as the Hines Creek Pileup, for it happened on the roadway along the Hines Creek.
This logging road followed the creek to its headwaters and had to traverse a fairly long uphill grade in order to reach the logs waiting to be loaded, and the hill itself was a jumble of rocks, some as large as a Volkswagon car! Large logs had been used to make a roadbed to carry the sleighs over these rocks, the logs covered over with soil in order to smooth this surface. The roadway was thus elevated several feet above the surrounding landscape.
Everyone called this road 'Sand Hill' since many buckets of sand were used in slowing the downward progress of .the Log Hauler each time it brought out its trainload of logs from the headwaters. Now whether the lead sleigh broke loose from the procession-, I don't know, but the sight pf that pileup will long stay in my memory! Seven or Eight of these sleighs, with their loads of logs had plunged one after the other into the creek and onto the hillside, tangling into a mass of logs and sleighs that stood about 20 feet high. Logs were scattered all about the scene of the breakaway, causing days of hardship and struggle for the men who would have to reload this harvest of logs.
Hopes were high to salvage the sleighs from underneath this massive pileup, so the 'jammer1 was brought in from the landing at the railway to facilitate this task. With the aid of this crane, the work continued until the logs could be reloaded in order to reach their true destination at the landing in town.
It was quite some time before 'Sand Hill1 could be brought back into operation.