When you are researching the same topic for many years, sometimes things re emerge and sometimes questions are answered long after they were asked.
One particular incident involves something referred to as the “Paul Bunyan Pulloff.”
Close to back around 2003 I called my great uncle in Point Leamington to talk to him about the many years he worked in the woods. While talking we got on the subject of the area I was really familiar with, which is around the cabin and who had the logging camp up there. It turned out the contractor was Clayton Holloway and the year was about 1958-59. I later confirmed this when I examined forestry maps of badger Division in the collection of the GFW Heritage Society.
Then Uncle Cec said “That was where we had the Paul Bunyan Pull off and we dumped 5000 cords of wood into Ole Paul” (what he and a lot of old loggers call Noel Paul Brook) .I think he went on to explain what the Paul Bunyan pull off was, I was taking notes and didn’t have tape recorder. But I always remembered the Paul Bunyan pulloff, I searched for it and couldn’t find exactly what it was. Simply put it was some type of “rig.”
Fast forward 14 years and 58 after the fact. I was looking up things related to Noel Paul on the Memorial University Digital Archives initiative and I came up an article in the old Daily News about an interesting pulpwood hauling operation.
In July 1959, the summer after the IWA Strike, forty men, Thirteen trucks and five tractors hauled 5,500 cords of wood an average of 2.25 miles in 18 days. This was no small feat, especially since hauling normally took place in the winter (Record Pulpwood Haul for A.N.D CO Division. The Daily News,July 1959).
This operation was one of the first times that direct hauling was used in the woods. To prepare the area small roads had been dozed to where they loggers had piled their logs, from there the wood was loaded onto pallets which because of the roads could be winched directly onto the trucks then driven down to the the river and dumped. This accounted for 3800 cords of wood (Ibid).
The balance, which was located in more difficult terrain was collected on pallets by small tractors. Instead of hauling the pallets on sleds as would have been done in the winter the Paul Bunyan was used. This was described as “a rig made of heavy timbers” which enabled the tractor to take the pallets directly to the cutters wood piles for loading. What is not described is whether or not the Paul Bunyan had wheels, tracks or skids to help move it over the rough ground. The tractors with their special rig would then town the wood to the roads where it was winched aboard trucks and then dumped into the river. Each pallet held 3 cords of pulpwood (Ibid).
The movement of pulpwood by water would continue for another three decades, but successful experiments with trucks and the proliferation of better woods roads meant that the days of winter hauling with horses were coming to an end. By the mid 1960’s there were no longer any horses used by the Anglo-Newfoundland Company, whereas at the beginning of the decade there were hundreds.
In the years that I have wandered around the old site where this particular camp was located I have yet to find a single horseshoe* and even if I find a part of the Paul Bunyan I am not sure if I will know what it is.
* I am doubtful if I am going to find one, from what I can gather the operation here was mostly mechanized. By this point in time if a camp had any horses it was only a handful used to get wood in hard to reach places.
As a side note. It was noted that between 1957-58 and 1961-62 the amount of wood that was hauled to the Grand Falls mill by truck went up by about ten percent. I am not sure if this total would have included this operation because the wood was still floated. Most of the total would have included the wood from Bishop’s Falls Division, which was either floated, jackladdered and trucker or trucked directly to the mill via the Botwood Highway or the Southside Road.
I believe I have found out what a Paul Bunyan was. R.D Peters compiled a Glossary in his Masters Thesis on Commuting in Logging Operations in 1965. He basically describes a Paul Bunyan as a sled made from heavy timbers with skis usually made from large curved birch logs that was towed by a tractor. I also may have a picture of one!