Skip to Main Content

Logging Industry Workers


Timber was one of many natural resources that powered America's rise as a major industrial nation. For the colonists and timber merchants who first settled, the vast, densely forested North American continent yielded what seemed like a limitless supply of trees for lumber. As forests were cleared to build colonies and start farms, the settlers used the lumber to build ships, roads, wagons, homes, churches, stores, and schools.

Most of the early settlers did some logging, initially just to clear their own land and build their own houses. As communities grew, local sawmills supplied their needs with wood logged from nearby forests. Because transportation of logs and lumber over long distances was difficult and unprofitable, logging was primarily a local business, centered in New England.

As settlers moved farther west and long-distance transportation was improved, logging developed into a nationwide business. In the second half of the 19th century, the industry's center shifted westward and to the Southeast.

Early loggers lived in logging camps, which consisted of a bunkhouse, a cook house, an office, stables and a blacksmith's shop, and perhaps a store, meat house, and storage sheds. They worked long and hard days in all types of weather. In recent years, logging camps have become virtually obsolete and much of the physical work involved has been replaced by power tools and power-driven lifting equipment, such as chain saws and mechanical loaders. It is still, however, a rugged and demanding job, not completely removed from the work of the early loggers.

Related Professions