Life in a North Woods Lumber Camp
About the book: Life in a North Woods Lumber Camp is a well-written story that focuses on delivering a character-driven first-person rendition of America’s logging history that sparkles with hilarious adventures, wry descriptions of troubles and triumphs, and stories about the amusing camp characters from a personal-experience standpoint.
Life in a North Woods Lumber Camp marries history with warm and convivial humor and provides any reader, from young adult up, with a lighthearted yet informative look at the past. Noted author Thomas C. O’Donnell, who retired to Boonville after a successful literary career in New York City, set many of his books and stories in upstate New York. He grew up in his father’s lumber camp in the late 1880s and claimed he was “born with an axe in his hand.” He was in the process of writing about those experiences when he died.
Fortunately, with the help of O’Donnell’s grandson, noted Adirondack author William J. O’Hern was able to and complete the manuscript—a gem that would otherwise have never been available to the reading public. O’Hern’s interest in the logging life comes from more than observation. In the mid-1960s he worked in the Crockets Saw Mill. Later on, he and friend Leigh Portner —a lifelong lumber jack and lumber mill operator—spent years running down, interviewing and filming former ’jacks, blacksmiths, camp cooks, and others who worked in the lumbering business. As O’Hern listened to their stories, and to those of people he met during brief stint at Hammermill Paper and with collectors of old style logging equipment, his admiration for those who were involved in non-mechanized logging grew. In his bushwhacks through the Tug Hill and Adirondack woods, he still keeps an eye out for relics of the old lumbering days. So O’Donnell’s story held a personal fascination for him, and it seemed serendipitous that he had the skills and knowledge to put it all together.
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