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Calawah River

The tour drives along the Calawah River through the Sol Duc Valley where in the 1940s it passed stump lands and a heavily forested region of large cedars and firs, some of which was logged using “sky-line” outfits. The tour winds through dank forests, where giant firs and cedars in heavy underbrush narrow the road until it seems a shadowed ditch, walled in by high green banks.

Logging with a “sky-line” outfit entailed expensive preparations, warranted only in large tracts of timber. First, two “spar trees” are selected, one at the pole deck (point of loading), and the other near the far side of the tract. A “high-rigger” climbs to the top of the tree to be felled, by looping his belt around the trunk and driving his spurs into the heavy bark, and then descends, stripping the tall, straight trunk of its branches as he goes.

At a point 120 to 150 feet from the ground, he chops or saws away until the top slowly leans over, falls away, and tumbles to the ground, leaving the bare pole swaying. The rigger clings to it as it whips about. Great care must be exercised in the use of the ax as a miss would sever the safety belt. The great cable is then suspended between the two spar trees, near the tops. Upon this aerial, or highline, is a huge block that acts as a trolley for the several cables suspended from it and the logs, or trees, being hauled to the pole deck. When the donkey engine begins to wind up the main line, the log is raised until it is suspended in mid-air, then drawn on to the pole deck. By the 1940s, tractors were coming more and more into use in modern logging.