It is as pretty mundane issue to address but it is something that needs to be addressed nonetheless. The technical term for a piece of pulpwood is a bolt. Often in Newfoundland it is called a junk.
The size of wood that was sent to the Grand Falls mill over the years changes at different times and this dictated how it was cut, hauled, handled, and driven.
In the very beginning of logging operations logs were cut to tree length. This stuff was a nightmare to drive and caused numerous and dangerous jams on the river. This practice only lasted from 1907-1911. In 1912 a maximum length of 16′ feet was standardized. (Nelson Williams, News-Log). Another factor that has to be considered from this time period is the fact that the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company wasn’t the only entity driving wood on the Exploits River during this time period. A.E Reed at Bishop’s Falls, Newfoundland Pine and Pulp at Badger and Botwood, and the Central Forests Company out of Norris Arm all cut and drove wood on the Exploits watershed. The A.E Reed mill at Bishop’s Falls reportedly used 12-foot wood.
So for about 15 years there existed a system in which wood was cut to 8′, 13′ (or 12) and 16′ lengths, depending on the size of the stream they were being driven on. During this same time period there were changes in the methods in which the wood was cut. Initially almost all trees were cut down with axes, gradually more and more two man crosscut, Disston and Simmonds saws came into the woods, which made bucking the trees to length much less labor intensive. In the early 1920’s the first wooden framed bucksaws started to appear, they would be replaced by the more sturdy steel framed variety during the same decade.
With the coming of the bucksaw and the trend towards driving on smaller steams a standardized pulpwood bolt of 5’2″ was adopted by the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company. This is often described at 5-foot wood. This strange and non rounded unit measurement no doubt suited the slasher mill and wood handling system at Grand Falls, which operated on bolts of about 31-32 inches. In areas, such as Terra Nova, where wood was transported to Grand Falls by rail, the bolt size was 7.5.’ This change seems to have been in place by 1928 and may have been gradually introduced over the preceding years. What I wonder about the 5’2″ wood, which would be a total of 62″ in length, thus two 31″ bolts could be cut from each log.
Starting in 1948 another change was made, that being the switch to 4′ wood for all logging areas. This was due in part to a modernization of the wood handling system at Grand Falls, in which the slashing mill was eliminated. The first area to start cutting 4′ wood was Terra Nova, here the method in which the wood was loaded onto the trains also changed because of this. It went from a system of jackladder de-watering and manual loading to a system in which pulpwood was loaded onto slings by worker these slings would be bundled by a crane and loaded onto railcars. The change over to four foot wood appears from various sources to have taken a few years, but was completed by 1952.
The introduction of the chainsaw in the 1950’s did not bring with it a change in the size of wood and 4-foot remained the standard, although the production methods did change.
8′ wood was once again experimented with in 1962. These first experiments were done in the cutting areas of New Bay Road. The larger sized logs were cut and piled, then loaded aboard trucks with a Caterpillar 977 H with a special grapple attachment called a Powell fork. The trucks then brought the logs to the river where they were unloaded and fed into a proprietary slasher mill that had been built solely to reduce the logs into 4′ lengths. Gradually, during the 1960’s more and more wood would be cut to this length, or in some cases trucked in three length to centrally located slashers.
Although the 4-foot would remain the standard for the Grand Falls mill for a long time, the sizes in which logs came to the grand Falls mill would varied stating in the 1960’s. Most wood was still cut into 4-foot bolts, either by slashers or by buckers (in the era of skidder crews, loggers that cut up the skidded three lengths at roadside), before being loaded onto pallets and trucked to the mill or to water. In some skidder operations, the trees were cut to tree length, loaded on large trucks mechanically then brought to a slasher, either in the woods or at the mill in Grand Falls.
I don’t believe full standardization to 8-foot wood came about until sometime in the 1980’s or even 1990’s. I would welcome any information on this. All I can recall coming in on large trucks from logging operations from around 1997 and after was 8 foot wood.
To further confuse things I have recovered 3-foot wood from brooks and, I am not sure of the explanation; if it was wood from a dam, some sort of trial, or just really undersized wood.
Although some as far back as the 1960’s envisioned a pipeline for wood chips going from somewhere “up in the woods” to Grand Falls, this never came to fruition. Chipping of wood for storage purposed began around 1963. The chipping of wood prior to transport to the mill was done in the 1980’s and 1990’s. I know that two chippers were set up on, well you guessed it, “Chipper Road.” One chipper chipped spruce and fir for pulpwood, the other chipped everything else. This combination non-pulpable wood was used as hog fuel to be burned at the mill. I don’t believe chipping was found to be as economical as hauling 8 foot wood directly from the cutting areas.
Anybody information about the elimination of four foot wood or the wood handling system at the mill in later years is more than welcome.