“Life in a Lumber Camp” by George Austin Woodward, Munsey’s Magazine (1894)

Photo: "Cedar stump house, Edgecomb, Washington, 1901" by Darius Kinsey / University of Washington Libraries

Photo: “Cedar stump house, Edgecomb, Washington, 1901” by Darius Kinsey / University of Washington Libraries

I’m working on a writing project with a friend of mine, and I’m still in one of the most enjoyable parts of the process: research. The story takes place at a logging camp, and in doing my research I found this great piece of source material – “Life in a Lumber Camp,” a piece from Munsey’s Magazine in 1894. The writer, who undoubtably visited from some place more urban and “civilized,” describes life in the camp:

Camp customs, while many and varied, are not so strictly observed as they were a few years ago. In some camps, in the evening, singing, dancing, and rough games are kept up until a late hour. It is an amusing sight–a couple of sets of great, clumsy men dancing the quadrille or “stag dance,” and keeping time to the “tweedledee” of an old, squeaky fiddle, apparently having as good a time as if they possessed every advantage of the modern ball room. Hazing, which was a common practice a few years ago, is no longer tolerated to the extent it once was. Formerly all newcomers must either sing a song or buy a pound of tobacco– a rule which, I am told, kept the drowd well supplied with to luxury. Strangers were often subjected to a good deal of ill treatment. A common practice was for six or eight men to seize another and toss him up in a blanket. Stealing was practiced to such an extent that socks were stolen from the feet of sleeping men.

“Life in a Lumber Camp” by George Austin Woodward

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