Loggers work in teams to build and repair roads, clear brush, cut and buck trees, and move logs to mills and shipyards.
Who is the world's most famous lumberjack? Paul Bunyan, of course. He was rumored to be as big as his father when he was just a week old. When he sneezed, he could blow down a dozen trees. Perhaps you could consider Babe, his trusty blue ox, to be a logger too, since she cleared log jams with a swish of her tail and liked to pull crooked logs straight.
You might be a little skeptical about the legends of Paul Bunyan. It's possible that stories about this legendary logger emerged during the logging boom of the 1800s. Or maybe there really was a man named Paul Bunyan who had a knack for felling gargantuan trees. Whatever the truth may be, logging is a profession that goes back for centuries. Technology has changed the job, but there are many aspects of it that have remained the same since the beginning of the timber boom.
Loggers inspect standing trees to see if they are useful and safe to cut. They put ribbons on the trees they do not want to cut. Loggers create a falling area where the trees will be cut and trimmed. They do this by clearing brush away from the trees, using chain saws, axes, and tractors. They also cut down saplings that may be in the way.
When trees are more than two feet in diameter, loggers cut them down by hand using axes and chainsaws. With smaller trees, they may use equipment to fell, move, and load them. Fallers decide how to direct the falling trees. They make their cuts and position wedges and jacks to control the fall. Fallers start the felling process by using axes to score cutting lines onto trees. Then they cut along these lines with chainsaws. They make back cuts, being sure to leave enough wood to control the tree. Fallers insert jacks and drive wedges behind the chainsaw. This keeps the saws from getting stuck and starts the trees falling. As the tree falls, loggers stop the saw, remove it, and run to a safe location to avoid injury.
Loggers put limbs or poles under felled trees to keep them from rolling. This also protects the trees from splitting on the underside. Loggers cut limbs from trees. They measure and mark off log lengths. Loggers called buckers cut trees into log lengths, using chainsaws and axes. Loggers called choker setters fasten cables to logs that are ready to be moved. Logging tractor operators drag or skid logs to the landing area. Yarder operators load logs into trucks or rail cars, or stack them for pickup by helicopters. They may use radios to talk to truck drivers or helicopter pilots. When loggers make firewood, they split logs using axes, wedges, and mauls. They stack the split wood into piles or cords.
Some loggers operate heavy-duty equipment. For example, they sometimes operate logging tractors to build or repair logging roads. They also use this equipment to pull stumps and clear brush. Some loggers use horses to pack their equipment in and drag logs out of cutting areas. Other loggers may travel to cutting sites by helicopter and use helicopters to haul the logs out.