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HISTORY IS COOL: 90 years ago

April 17, 1931

Log drives to begin

With the gradual clearing of ice, several of the Adirondack rivers are approaching the spring freshet stage and are being filled with logs to be driven downstream and converted into pulp.

Schroon River is being filled with logs, and with a lot of snow still in the woods in the Raquette River section, more than 40 men await the signal to start the drive. In all, 40,000 cords will soon be floated down the St. Regis River from Meacham Lake in one of the largest runs.

Old lumbering methods were filled with danger, and the best drivers, many of them French Canadians, were of the most daring heroic type, callous to hardship. On the great lumber highway from the Saranac Lakes to Plattsburgh, the drivers performed skillful feats and tricks not essential to their work, which in itself meant constant exposure to wind and weather and often to ice-cold water.

The most cunning at the tricks of their trade are said to have turned somersaults on the broad logs while in midstream, some would dance, making the log revolve under their feet, and nearly all of them could stand upright on the floating logs.

Coupled with their hazardous fun was the real danger of the log jam. When one or two logs would get caught on projecting rocks, thousands would pile up behind them, making a solid immoveable mass. It was then necessary to find the key log, which, when disturbed from its lodging place, would loosen the others, which would go swirling downstream mighty as an avalanche.

There were always volunteers for the work of jam breaking, although the hazard was often one of life and death. The applause of his comrades was often enough reward for his precarious position as he climbed over the jammed logs to pick the one which would start the others on their way.

Bobsled run land

As an indirect result of the court decision last year that it was unconstitutional to use the state land between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake as a location for the Olympic bob-run, a bill was passed by the Senate last week for an amendment to the state constitution to permit legislators to enact laws permitting construction and improvements in forest preserves for recreational purposes.

Keen feeling was aroused in this section and among all interested in sport when the court last year ruled that when timber could not be cut on state-owned land to make way for a run to be used during the III Olympic Winter Games to be held here next February. The site between Saranac Lake and this village was generally favored by all as it was considered far more accessible than the one on private land, which was eventually used for construction of the run.

Considerable opposition had been raised against any step to lessen the strength of the present provisions of the constitution, especially by the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks.

This measure, sponsored by Assemblyman Fred Porter of Crown Point, must be approved again by the 1932 state Legislature and will then go before the people of the state in the fall of 1932 for their approval.