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Hauling with One & Two Horse Sleds

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!

By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum


            For many years, horses played an important role in getting the needed wood to the mills for papermaking. One horse and two horse teams and even four horse teams were used in various camps to move the cut wood to the sites where it would eventually go into the water or loaded onto trucks for the rest of the journey to the mill. Horses were still being used in some areas during the time of the Lombard log haulers and other mechanical equipment.

            “Snaking” was the term used when one or two horse teams dragged individual logs from the cutting area to a landing. “Draying” was the use of a horse drawn single sled or “bob.” The “bob” consisted of two short runners connected by a bunk. One end of the logs was supported on the sled and the other end was dragged along the ground.

            A two-sled rig had two sets (bob’s) of short runners. Each set supported an end of the load which was fastened to the “bunks by corner chains. More chains connected each set of runners to allow for steering. A detailed description of these two-sled rigs can be found in several resources at the museum.

            Two-horse teams, usually with a teamster and a helper, were common. The two-sled rig was made so that one man could toss a 4 ft. stick of pulp into place on the rack. Some were also made as double racks (twice as wide) which needed one man to toss the wood and another on the rack placed it into position. The rack was usually 28 feet in length. This method was not only used by the larger logging companies but also by small woodlot owners and farmers when cutting wood on their property.

            McLeod’s history of GNP states that in the 1920’s, horse hauling of four-foot wood by two horse teams averaged about two miles distance between the cutting site and the landing site. The usual cutting job lasted about eleven weeks with the hauling taking about seven weeks after there was sufficient snow to make roads. A two-horse team, with a teamster and a helper hauled an average of 70 cords a week.

Another source (Hilton’s Woodsmen, Horses, and Dynamite) states the importance of the correct loading of these horse-drawn wood sleds. “Good loaders will load from the middle to the ends and put the top middle of the load on last, with the idea that the slight bending downward of the rack will pinch the wood in between the stakes and hold it in place better. Wood correctly piled on a rack will stay on over rough roads.”

Snow was wanted for the sleds to travel over, but large storms caused problems especially in the years before steam-powered and other heavy equipment came about. Icy, uneven roads caused by thawing and freezing of snow roads, sometimes resulted in numerous spilled loads enroute from the wood yards to the landing. The main hauling roads were plowed but branch roads might not be plowed.  Waiting pulp piles had to be shoveled out and often the sticks of wood would freeze together especially after some rain or a thaw making the loading job more difficult.

This method of using teams of horses and different types of wood sleds or racks to move the cut wood continued well into the 1930’s and early 1940’s.

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