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Sunday, July 31, 2016


At least to my blog.  Yeah..., the Scott R. - The Quillayute Cowboy blog has been getting an unprecedented number of hits lately.  I usually get a bit of a bounce when I link to a new post on my Facebook page..., but I haven’t posted a new piece since “Those Good Ole Days” back on 7/8/16..., and it only garnered 83 hits since then. And my best recent post, “The Drive” got 446 hits since 4/30/16.  

So..., I was a bit curious about who was hitting my blog so hard the last three weeks or so.  Blogger Dashboard shows this for the last month...,


United States



And just last week it was...,


United States


And from the hits to individual posts the last week it is undeniable..., a slam dunk..., that those evil ones..., and most likely Putin in particular..., they are after my George Lawrence saddles and my Saddle Bar(n).  Yeah I have seen the picture of Putin horseback.., he is in need of a good saddle..., and shirt.

May 15, 2011, 24 comments
Apr 11, 2010, 10 comments
Jun 6, 2010, 6 comments

I have often said that I hate to admit it when I am wrong..., but some subconscious mental deficiency makes me do it.  I was sure that the mainstream media hype about the Russian threat was all about funneling money into the hands of the military-security industrial complex..., that then funneled it into the pockets of pandering politicians.  But I can’t deny the facts..., as much as I want too..., the threat is REAL !!!

Yeah..., I was in complete agreement with Dave Lindorff over at CounterPunch when he penned this one almost two years ago...,

The US, having seen its $5 billion plan for a NATO puppet state on Russia’s southern flank resoundingly crushed, is still pushing disconsolately for a more threatening NATO stance against Russia, with more weapons and troops posted near to Russia’s western border, for example in the Baltic states and in Poland, Rumania and Poland. But saner heads in Europe, particularly in Germany, are balking, noting that NATO and Russia have a treaty that bars the placing of permanent military bases in those countries. European NATO countries area also largely ignoring US calls for them to boost their military spending to bring it to 2% of GDP (US military spending is officially 3.8% of GDP, among the highest rates in the world, according to the World Bank, though adding in interest on war funding debt, veterans benefits and health care and the intelligence budget, it is really closer to 5%).

But I say again..., this time the threat is REAL.  Luckily for us we will most likely have a new president who will take this threat seriously..., as this piece by Pepe Escobar over at CounterPunch lays out...,

Hillary Clinton’s record shows that she fully supported Bubba’s military adventures in the Balkans, Dubya’s disastrous wars on Afghanistan and Iraq and Obama’s Afghan surge. But her masterpiece as Secretary of State was of course the destruction of Libya – followed by her enthusiastic support for weaponizing “moderate rebels”, a.k.a hardcore jihadis, in Syria.
R2P (“responsibility to protect”) would have remained no more than a hollow smart power-related concept without the Three Harpies (Hillary, Samantha Power and Susan Rice) lobbying non-stop for its implementation in Libya. Libya was the battling ground supposed to gloriously elevate the Clinton Doctrine to the apex of foreign policy smartness.
R2P – as in humanitarian imperialism deployed towards regime change – should have been duly paraded throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. But alas, even with We Came, We Saw, He Died the descent of Libya into a militia hell scotched all those elaborate plans. It was – and remains – more of a case of I came, I Saw and I Got Tangled Up in Benghazi.

Yeah..., it is pretty damn obvious that the Queen of Chaos will not stand by and let the Russians come and take a working man's saddles or bar(n)..., she is so perceptiv that she saw it coming even before I did..., as noted by another  CounterPunch piece by Renee Parsons...,

Indeed, the DNC and Clinton campaign are spending much valuable time spinning a narrative that the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming rather than focusing on the upcoming race against Donald Trump which promises to be a very tight election. At what point, do the Democrats with egg on their face end up looking foolish, inept and desperate.

Just for the record..., and to make it absolutely crystal clear..., I am NOT admitting here that I am wrong about my prior denunciations of Hillary Clinton.  I would much rather stay here and defend my own George Lawrence saddles and my Saddle Bar(n) by myself..., I want her help in no way what-so-ever. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Those Good Ole Days

I was born in 1952…, so when I try to sum up my life in as few words as possible…, I say that I was born in the 50’s…., grew up in the 60’s…, came of age in the 70’s…, somehow survived the 80’s…, built a nest in the 90’s…, tried to feather the nest in in the 00’s…, and am sometimes wondering why in these 10’s?

Sometime in those 80’s I tried to pen the lyrics to a song about those 70’s…, a time that those of us around my age were trying to recreate the magic of the psychedelic 60’s that we were a little too young to experience firsthand.  Why couldn’t we have our own Woodstock?  We tried.

Those Good Ole Days
Been tunin’ up all day,
Now we’re feelin’ right.
Gonna head out for Tacoma,
In the middle of the night.
Jerry’s passed out in the backseat,
Got Bruce behind the wheel.
Goin’ mostly for the party,
But just might make a deal.

I still remember those good ole days,
Like they were yesterday.
I think about ‘em often,
But don’t have much to say.
You lit a fire in me girl,
That still smolders…, sometimes burns.
But somewhere along the road,
We took our separate turns.

Rock and roll all day long,
And halfway through the night.
There was no way baby,
I could let you out of sight.
That summer passed before us,
Just like a shooting star.
Just along for the ride,
We weren’t goin’ all that far.

I still remember those good ole days,
Like they were yesterday.
I think about ‘em often,
But don’t have much to say.
You lit a fire in me girl,
That still smolders…, sometimes burns.
But somewhere along the road,
We took our separate turns.

I wish all of the memories,
Were as sweet as those.
I can’t explain the reason,
We chose those separate roads.
But sometimes I still wake up,
In the middle of the night.
And wonder where we’d be right now,
If things had turned out right.

I still remember those good ole days,
Like they were yesterday.
I think about ‘em often,
But don’t have much to say.
You lit a fire in me girl,
That still smolders…, sometimes burns.
But somewhere along the road,
We took our separate turns.

There were a few things that brought that one back to mind.  I have read Ron Jacobs, “Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies” three times now.  Yeah…, having a Kindle is like carrying around a library in your pocket.  And nobody on the bus can tell that you are reading the same book for the third time.  Jacobs tracks the decade through the music mostly…, and that’s the hook for me…, but the political commentary and analysis isn’t overbearing.  He was also a big Grateful Dead fan…, but they just never caught on with me.  But Bruce Springsteen and Jackson Browne had heavy influence and are a couple of my heavyweights…, “Daydream Sunset” isn’t far from a fourth reading.  Here is the Amazon description of the book:

The 1960s are remembered for radical politics, explorations of sexuality, drug experimentation and rock and roll. All of these elements composed the 60s counterculture. Then things changed. Richard Nixon got elected president, and together with Congress, made the war on drugs a cultural and political crusade replete with lots of cops, guns and constitutional violations. Youthful protesters were murdered by authorities in Berkeley, Kent State and Jackson State. Divisions over tactics and politics combined with police repression to splinter and dissipate the left political movement. The Vietnam war finally ended and Abbie Hoffman went underground after a cocaine bust. Meanwhile, in one of its most manipulative moments, corporate America was quickly figuring out how to put sex, drugs and rock and roll up for sale. Hippies became freaks; Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Pigpen died untimely deaths, but the rock show went on. The 1970s were the decade the Sixties spirit struggled to survive while becoming a shadow of its dreams. Daydream Sunset is the story Ron Jacobs tells in his colorful history of the 1970s. From the Fillmore East to Oakland Coliseum; from Berkeley's Telegraph Ave to the streets of Europe, this alternative history of this fraught time will make you feel like dancing in your seats and wondering what might have been. One part reminiscence and several parts cultural history, Jacobs has crafted a thrilling and intimate narrative that takes the reader on a trip through a crazy history some people don't remember and others want us to forget.

I really need to show some initiative and write a customer review on Amazon and email Jacobs and let him know how much I enjoyed his book…, but us Old Hippies are not that easy to get motivated.

Jacobs is a couple years younger than I was…, and one of the other nudges came from a writer a couple years older.  I ran across John Eskow’s, My Generation: One Last Scream on the Way Out on the CounterPunch Blog the other day.  It begins:

I was born the same year as Bonnie Raitt, Jeff Bridges, Pam Grier, and Bruce Springsteen—which, unless all the calendars have somehow been altered, makes us 66 years old.   And if the actuarial tables remain consistent, that means that all of us—good and bad, kindhearted and creepy, George Foreman and Gene Simmons alike—we’re all due to be bundled up pretty soon and dropped off into that Great Recycling Bin of the Cosmos.
It’s a curious bunch. Hank Williams Jr—with whom, as a fledgling journalist, I stood in an Alabama field, firing rifles, machine-guns and his prize bazooka—unforgettable detonations! Even then, Hank Jr—with his deep bass voice and Oedipal backstory, his face scarred up from a terrible fall down a mountainside—seemed much older than me. “Well, Jawn,” he allowed, “I’ve just had a few more oil changes than you.” Great line. And the truly magical Phillipe Petit, with whom I used to play badminton inside a poet’s Soho loft–back in the ‘70s, when Soho lofts were dirt-cheap, because no one wanted to live there. Ann Romney, George’s wife, with whom I never did anything. Jessica Lange, still a major crush—though not as big a crush as Pam Grier; one kiss from Pam Grier could still power entire cities. Cool Sissy Spacek and sleazy Don Johnson. The always-underestimated Larry Holmes. Twiggy. Caitlyn Jenner, world-famous for being a creep in two different genders. Jeremy Corbyn. Rick Springfield.
The mulch-pit awaits us all. What traces will we leave behind?

And he sums it up:

Chelsea Clinton’s wedding cost $3,000,000– while the single mothers whose pitiful lifeline was cut off by Bill Clinton turn tricks behind dumpsters to feed their kids.
They say one good thing about getting old is you can speak your mind more freely. I really hope that’s true, because my generation still has a right, and a duty to speak—no, to scream. Now more than ever. Now louder than ever.
And by the way: I still haven’t given up completely on Pam Grier.

Oh…, that last little nudge was more like a kick in the butt…, I leave you with The Who and “My Generation”.

Friday, June 10, 2016

What Do You Call It?

Irony?  I once wrote that I may not be able to define irony for you…, but I know it when it slaps me upside the head.  The dictionary says, “… a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects…”.  Or maybe you should call it disrespect…, or insulting?

I am sure it was merely coincidence that the five part-eight hour documentary “OJ: Made in America” was scheduled for TV release on June 11, 2016…, just a week after the passing of Muhammad Ali.  OJ and Ali were both great athletes…, but only one was a great man…, The Greatest.  If there is any doubt in your mind about which one that is…, don’t bother reading any further.

I am also sure that the release of the OJ film was scheduled for release long ago…, it has already made the rounds at film festivals…, but I am not sure why that TV release could not…, and should not have been rescheduled.  There is little doubt that it was some sort of monetary consideration and contract obligations.  Both men had diametrically opposed views on money and obligations.  Ali gave up his heavyweight championship, millions of dollars, and several years of his prime athletic life for his principles, his “people”, and his religion…, by refusing to be inducted into the US Army.  About that same time OJ was winning a Heisman Trophy and already counting the millions he was going to demand from the NFL team the drafted him.  He held out until he got it too.  He once remarked that, “I’m not black…, I’m OJ.”  If he ever did anything for anyone but OJ…, it was just for the good publicity it would get him…, and the money that would follow.

I was still in high school when Ali refused the draft in 67 and OJ won the Heisman in 68.  I had different opinions of them back then.  I thought Ali was a loud mouth, uppity nigger who feigned religion and was a coward and a draft dodger…, he deserved whatever he got.  OJ was a tremendous athlete who knew his place…, and deserved whatever he got.  Fifty years can change a man’s view, his attitudes…, and philosophy of life.  It didn’t happen overnight…, getting drafted myself…, serving in the South in the early 70’s had quite an impact on me.  I began to realize that Ali was right about the war…, and a lot more…, and was probably the greatest boxer ever.  OJ on the other hand was a media made star.  He was fast…, but not a great runner.  He would go a whole game with nothing but two, three or four yards a carry…, until the one big hole opened up and he burst through for an eighty yard run.  The year he set the rushing record with over 2000 years in a season wasn’t because he had such a great year…, it was because it was set up to be his big season…, OJ was the offense.  All those carries probably took a few years off his career…, but he was eying Hollywood anyway.  He never led his pro team to a championship.

The movie is getting rave reviews…, “essential and momentous”…, “has grandeur and authority”…, “thought-provoking, astonishing, sobering, hilarious, tragic”…, “Historically meticulous, thematically compelling and deeply human… a masterwork of scholarship, journalism and cinematic art.”  

I won’t be watching it.  I have no respect for OJ and what he did.  One review states, “… should be a conversation-starter, a way to discuss what happened in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s in terms of race and celebrity and what it says about today.”  No…, I don’t buy that.  Ali and OJ grew up in the same era and I would say that Ali faced far more racism, hatred, and prejudice in Louisville than OJ did in San Francisco.  Ali stood up to it and backed it down.  OJ bowed down to it.  They were both big celebrities…, Ali accepted it and lived with it…, OJ spent his life trying to exploit it. 

No…, if I want to learn something about life…, give me The Ali story.  Don’t slap me upside the head.

Rest In Peace Champ…, it was just a sad coincidence.

Friday, June 3, 2016

There's A Double Trouble Bubble Brewing

We’ve seen and survived some pretty nasty bubbles in the past.  The Tulip Bubble, The South Sea Company Bubble, The Florida Real Estate Bubble, The 1929 Stock Market Bubble, The Japanese Asset Price Bubble, The Dot- Com Bubble, The Housing Bubble(s), The Subprime Bubble, The Debt Bubble, The Financial Bubble…, and no one saw this one coming either.  But we may have a chance to turn it around before this Bubble Bursts.  And by “us”…, I mean the working man or woman, common folks, debt serfs…, beer drinkers.  I doubt that we will have much help from the plutocrats and oligarchs or the politicians or CEO’s or other scum of the earth.  They aren’t beer drinkers and wouldn’t stoop to buying a beer for a working man…, if they ever got close enough to one to do so.
Say what?  I am speaking of The Beer Bubble.  Haven’t heard of it?  I told you already that no one saw it coming…, but here it is…, World Domination - the Chinese Now Drink More Beer Than Anyone  .  And the Double Bubble I referred to?  Here it is…, Corprate Overlords Will Soon Own 1 Out of Every 3 Beers Made On Earth.

Yeah…, we know what too much money in too few hands can produce…, but that pales in comparison to what too much beer in too few hands looks like.  I have seen it first hand and a little too close up and personal a time or two…, on a small scale anyway.  I can guarantee you that you don’t want to even view the pictures of what a mess a Bursting Beer Bubble would produce on a planetary scale.  The corporate conglomerates have consolidated and monopolized everything from media to airlines to banks…, it shouldn’t surprise us that they are coming for our beer now.  They want to make sure that they are too big to fail.  Some foreign outfit has captured Budweiser…, that iconic red, white and blue can will now be emblazoned with “America” on it…, until after the elections I hear.  That’s just in the US…, I don’t think it would go over so well in other than a very few nations left on Earth that have any respect…, let alone love…, for America these days.  I am not sure just how to battle a behemoth like that…, the thought of a beer boycott leaves me with cotton mouth…, and the shakes.

But regarding that first Bubble Trouble mentioned…, we can make damn sure those Chinese don’t out drink us!  I mean the gall…, what do they think…, that they built our railroads or something?  This calls for action of the two fisted kind…, yeah…, a beer in each hand.  Whatever it takes.  We all know how those aforementioned Bubbles played out…, and we can’t allow something like that to happen to such a vital and essential area of our economy and mainstay of our very existence.  We can’t let this Brew Bubble Burst…, we have to keep pouring it on to keep that from happening.  What the hell…, if we double down on our beer consumption we might be able to wipe out the deficit in the bargain.  I mean…, the sin taxes alone on beer are enormous.  Think of the revenue the government will reap.  And look how much more malt, grain, barley, hops, yeast, water, aluminum and glass will need to be produced…, not to mention the brewers, truck drivers, stock and checkout clerks, bartenders and waitresses.., we are talking a major jobs program here folks…, and it won’t cost the government any money and the Republicans won’t be able to block it…, because there will be no vote.  Do you suppose the Repugs will suggest cutting the beer tax?  Dream on.  Tax cuts for billionaires are a religious necessity for them…, but a tax cut for the working man or woman beer drinker…, forgetaboutit.  This could be the stimulus, the jump-start, the turnaround…, that the economy has been searching in vain for since 2009.

When the Great Recession burst on the scene along with Housing Bubble and the stock market crashed…, everything but beer bottles were thrown at the problem.  $700 million in TARP funds…, to the Banksteers that caused the problem…, and an $800 million dollar stimulus package that pretty much ended up in those same Banksteer pockets.  The idea was that the Banksteers would lend out that money for investment in productive industry and create jobs and an economic recovery.  Trouble was that no one wanted to borrow any money…, at least not the working man or woman who were already well over their eyeballs in debt…, because inflation adjusted incomes were still stuck in the 70’s.  And with no consumer spending to speak of…, the giant corporations had no incentive to invest in increased production of any consumer products.  Though the CEO’s and stockholders were happy to borrow that low interest money and buy back their own shares…, which lined their pockets…, and little else.  Then there was Quantitative Easing…, I…, II…, and III.  Some say that all these efforts produced another stock market bubble that’s bound to burst…., but it hasn’t…, yet.

There is another option of course…, the lesson from the Euro Zone and the IMF…, austerity.  Not just no…, HELL NO !!!  There is no way that any self-respecting beer drinker would set foot on that Greecey slope.  That would result in nothing but a not so slow slide to the bottom of the barrel…, and there to remain.

So…, there is a lesson here for us beer drinkers…, we can learn from history.  We need to Bailout the Banksteers if we are going to save our Beer Bubble.  They got all that low (nearly no) interest rate money to lead out to us at 29% on our credit cards.  Hell…, they may be getting some of those negative interest rate loans soon…, and can therefore jack up the interest rates they charge us on our cards.  Speaking of those negative interest rates that are all the rage in Europe and Japan…, I asked our local banksteer for a negative interest rate loan to buy yet another Toyota…, she didn’t think it was as funny as I hope you do.  Anyway…, we have to buy up as much beer as possible…, on credit of course…, and drink it up.  We can’t just throw a tarp over it and save it for the hotter days coming our way soon.  No…, that would just delay the Bursting of the Beer Bubble until a later date…, pulling demand forward is the technical term…, and it only works for a short while.   We have to keep turning that beer and the money printing machine over and over in a sustainable manner if we want to keep the flow going.  It’s tough duty…, I know.  But someone has to do it.

Obama will probably back us up.  He already earned a Nobel Peace Prize for averting a major conflagration between a couple of beer drinkers…, by sitting down and downing a couple beers with the parties in question.  Well…, at least that is the only thing I can think of that he did to deserve the Nobel medal…, and money.  He hasn’t stopped any wars since he took office and he continues to bomb and drone and kill in some seven countries…, that we know of.

If it doesn’t happen on Obama’s watch…, I doubt that President Trump will be any help.  He will of course, want to “Make America Great Again”…, and probably suggest building a wall across the Pacific Ocean…, using the Great Wall of China for material…, hire Chinese laborers to build it for pennies an hour…, then bring those jobs back home when they are done.  But that is all just talk…, The Donald probably never drank a beer…, nothing but Dom Pérignon Champaign at $200 a bottle for him.  He may pander to us beer drinkers and try to impress us with his tough talk (it seems to work with a significant number of us)…, but I don’t believe that he is even close to being a real working man (or woman?)…, or near as tough as he thinks he is.  That’s all just talk too.  He’s the kind of guy that I would like to punch in the nose when he talks like that.

President Hillary will go on the attack immediately…, bombs on the beaches and bayonets up the butt (hee hee hee she says) are her style of doing business.  And while we are busy and bloody and distracted in the Asian pivot…, she will be handing over the Social Security Trust Fund to Goldman Sachs.  You don’t really think that they invited her back twice at $200,000 a pop to hear her tell them how she would clamp down on their blood funnel tactics, insider trading, high frequency trading, shoddy securitization, interest rate rigging, etc…, yeah…, over $100 billion in fines paid already to keep from being prosecuted and Hillary tells them, “You ain’t seen nothing yet…, just wait till I take office.”  Please come back and tell us again…, and again Hillary?  No wonder she won’t release the transcripts.  We have a lot more to worry about than a Bursting Beer Bubble if that Queen is Crowned.

Bernie seems like a beer guy to me.  That’s not why I supported him…, I like his policies.  It’s looking now like my campaign donations may have been more wisely spent on beer…, but it ain’t over until the Fat Queen Sings.  I am sure that Bernie would not like the idea of the Chinese taking our beer drinking jobs.  We need to keep our beer here in America…, and drink it ourselves.  Now, I don’t mind so much if the Chinese take our dirty, polluting, and all round nasty jobs…, we don’t really need polluted rivers on fire or acid rain or brown outs or brown lung…, the Chinese are choking and dying on those jobs over there now…, but taking our good clean beer drinking jobs…, even if they don’t pay all that well…, is a red line in the sand that shall not be crossed.  I believe that Bernie would help build a bridge and lead us through this Beer Bubble to that banquet on the other side.  And I am sure it would be a lot better bridge than the one that the last Clinton to run for President promised to help us build to the 21st Century…, and failed to deliver on.

But that new President taking office is still over seven months away…, and we dare not wait that long.  So…, beer drinkers unite and rally in the streets…, roll up your sleeves, get thirsty…, it’s time to boot up and get those Tony Lama’s out on the ground (not behind the wheel now)…, and help keep this Brewing Bubble from Bursting.

Double Cheers Squared

Postscript - Here's that bridge to the 21st Century that we had to build ourselves...

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Drive

Along about April or May of every year when the high county around Hemlock Butte and Rocky Ridge Lake were still socked in and buried in perhaps 10 feet or more of frozen snow at over 5,600 feet in elevation…, Lewiston, ID at barely 700 feet above sea level…, had been snow free for many months and the flower and vegetable gardeners weren’t much worried about any killing frosts.  As we would head east up US 12 along the Clearwater River toward Weippe and home in our old car, my Dad would look across the river at that giant, smoke belching, rotten-egg smelling, Potlatch Forests, Inc. pulp mill and say, “Well…, looks like they are getting mighty short of logs…, guess I better sign on for The Drive this year.”  He never did sign on when I knew him though.  He had been on a couple, or maybe a few, before I was born, or when I was too young to remember.  Strange how those little details never seem to matter…, until it is too late to sort them out.

The Clearwater River Log Drive was an ever present piece of that logging aura and mystic that was as much a part of my life growing up as such legends like Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.  But I will never forget being in the fourth or fifth grade when our teacher brought to class a July 1951 issue of National Geographic Magazine.  There was a feature in it about the 1950 Clearwater Log Drive titled “Idaho Loggers Battle a River”.  I was just trying to be funny when I quipped, “I’ll show you guys a picture of my Dad in here!”  The boast got way more scoffs than laughs, but no one was more shocked or surprised than I was…, to see him there on page 120 and 129.
Second guy on the right is That Good Lookin' Al Spence
The guy on the left.

This year of 2016 will mark the 45year anniversary of the last Clearwater River Log Drive.  In 1971, it was most likely the last major white-water sawlog river drive in the United States.  I doubt that the practice would have survived much longer, even if the huge concrete plug…, known as the Dwoarshak Dam…, hadn’t choked off the North Fork branch of the Clearwater.  It was boom time in American back then, it was, build bigger and better roads, bigger and faster trucks to haul those logs, and with the fuel for them measured in pennies to the gallon, The Drive wouldn’t have survived much longer even without the dam.  With diesel fuel over $4.00 per gallon at times these days and environmentalists calling for breaching dams to allow historic salmon and steelhead fish runs to resume…, one wonders if there might not be another Clearwater River Log Drive in the future? 

My days as a working logger are long gone…, with few regrets that those back breaking days are behind me now at age 64.  But I would sign on without hesitation for a future Drive as a camp “flunky”…, swamping out the floating bunkhouses and serving food to those working loggers in the cookhouse portion of the floating camp called the “wannigan”.  Oh yeah…, I’d sign on for whatever menial, low-down, dirty,  job that I had to …, to take part in The Drive.  A two or three week whitewater rafting and boating  vacation, three all-you can eat hot meals a day, being rocked to sleep at night in warm and dry bunk on the water…, and getting paid to do it.  Hell…, I’d do it for free if I ever get the chance.  Oh…, there was some hard and dangerous work involved, but all aspects of logging are that way.

In the early 1950’s, the wanigan was fitted with full swing motormounts and outboard motors instead of just the sweeps. It progressedfrom log rafts to three sections of Army engineered bridge pontoonsmade out of synthetic rubber with air in numerous air compartments.  This wanigan would house the 34-man crew along with a cook, cookhouse, and two bunkhouses, one on each end of the cookhouse. The wanigan was over 117 feet long and 26 feet wide. This photo was taken in 1951 about 3 miles north of Ahsahka.

Working in a space smaller than the average home kitchen, chief cook Harvey Spears prepares more than 100 hot meals daily to satisfy the hearty appetites of the Potlatch rearing crews.

From 1928 to 1971 there were 40 log drives, they generally started 50 miles up the North Fork of the Clearwater River from Isabella Landing.  50 miles of wild, untamed river that ran through a wilderness of nearly uninhabited country.  The few access roads available were there to get the timber to the water.   At the mouth of the North Fork, the logs and their drivers merged with the Middle Fork, and from there rode the main Clearwater River another 40 miles down to Lewiston and the mill pond.  In the early years a series of flumes were used to get the logs into the river.  A flume was like a theme park water slide for logs…, and I’ve been told that some of the poorly designed flumes gave those logs quite a ride. 

In the early years of the drive, flumes transported logs from the woods to the bank of the river throughout the logging season. Tree lengths were skidded to this flume landing and then “bucked” by sawyers into saw logs about sixteen and a half feet in length. Peavy men then rolled the logs into the flume.Water would be released from flume dams as needed to float the logs to the river. There would be severallog landings along a flume depending on different logging sites and available water sources. Each flume design was unique to particular
terrain and water sources. The original length of this particular flume was about eight miles. It entered the river below the Little North Fork, on the opposite side, fed by the waters of Elkberry Creek.  From the late 1920’s to the mid-1950’s, flumes were the cheapest and the most efficient way to handle the logs. Heavy machinery was not yet available to build the roads, handle the logs, or haul them great distances. Water did the work. Flumes varied from one mile to several miles in length and created a capillary system that fed logs into the river. Over two dozen flumes and fluming camps were constructed along the North Fork.

Also in the old days the boats were man-powered and it took a lot of skill to avoid a lot of extra hard work.  The advent of first…, outboard motors…, and later…, jet boats made things a lot easier and safer for all the crew members.

“Head’s Up, she’s a pullin’.” The bateaux crew pulling a small center jam in the North Fork of the Clearwater River. The men in the picture are leaping to the safety of the bateaux as everything is moving and the jam is breaking up.

Boat crews are working the slack water at the lower end of the Clearwater River, close to the Lewiston mill.

In those days it wasn’t so much a drive, as it was a round-up.  The logs were allowed to just float to the mill at their leisure and once a year, or when the logs stopped showing up at the mill, a crew went down to help along the ones that got stranded in shallow riffles, or eddies, or got hung up on islands.  But a couple of huge log jams that blocked the entire width of the river and extended for miles up stream ended that practice.  When a big jam like that cuts loose in mass…, things like bridges are in no small peril. 

So the practice of decking the logs up along the river at various “camp” sites throughout the season and making a controlled drive once a year was established.  Timing was of critical importance.  If the water was rising, the logs would tend to float in the center of the river, if the water was falling the logs would tend to float toward the banks of the river were they were more likely to get hung up.  With a huge snowpack still stashed away in the high country, it was that melting snow that would determine the flow of the river.  Start too early and the snow up high stays frozen, start too late and you are liable to get caught at flood stage, which presents a whole set of new problems.  That happened one year before there were dams built that helped with flood control…, the logs burst through the log boom that was stretched across the river to corral them in the log pond at Lewiston…, and high-tailed it on down the Snake River.  On down the Columbia River.  All the way to Longview, WA before they were recaptured…, by another logging company.  So the decision of when to start The Drive was not taken lightly or left in the hands of just anyone.

Bull O’ The Woods! Potlatch log drive foreman Charles “Red” McCollister sizes up the river before sending his rearing crews onto the frigid Clearwater River.

He worked the drive from 1950 to 1971 and
was foreman for its last 17 years. 

The fellow that made that call for the last 17 years of The Drive, was Charles “Red” McCollister.  “Charlie Red” we called him when I worked for him a few years after The Drive was history.  I wish I could have worked for him on one of them.  I gave it some thought, I was 18 in 1971, but I wasn’t even working for Potlatch at the time.  There wouldn’t have been any chance of me getting on anyway.  I am sure the list was a long one for that Last Drive. I wonder how Charlie Red decided who got the privilege to participate in it?  He said in a 1964 article in The Idaho Forester, “New recruits were chosen carefully from young men with as much consideration given to their safety attitude and individual judgment as to their physical ability.”  With only 34 positions to fill the crew, I am sure Charlie had some tough calls to make…, but there is no man that I would sooner trust than Charlie Red to make a tough call.  But once again…, it is a little too late to ask him about those little details.  He passed away in 2010.  I’ll be writing more about this remarkable man in the future.  For now…, you should check out another link to this Forest History Today magazine photo-journal that was written by Charlie Red and his daughter Sandra McCollister about The Drive…, and I sure hope she doesn’t mind that I “borrowed” some of her and Charlie’s pictures and captions (in italics) for this piece.  I would have asked…, but I lost her email address in one of my computer harddrive crashes. 

There is a wealth of old logging and log drive picture at Forest History Society site…, and I did get their permission to use their photos…, some of which are credited to them in Charlie and Sandra’s story.

There is also a chapter about The Drive in Earl Roberge’s beautifully written and photographed book, "Timber Country"…, and I hope he doesn’t mind if I post a couple of his pictures here.  I have a copy of the book myself…, about the only wise investment I made back in the “hippie days”…, and I bought another as a gift for an old partner not so long ago.

There are several YouTube videos of various aspects of The Drive you can Google up…, or try these links:

“The Company”…, was the moniker most often used to referred to Potlatch Corporation by those of us who worked there…, was foresighted enough to hire a film company to record the last log drive and Charlie Red narrated the film…, but I can’t seem to locate it for viewing anywhere on the Internet.  That is a real shame…, it is a piece of history that should be available for all to see.
Another great film that features a fairly significant amount of footage of the log drive is the Disney film, “Charlie the Lonesome Cougar”.  It doesn’t identify in the story that the log drive portion was actually shot in Idaho on the North Fork of the Clearwater River…, but the credits do.  And oh yeah…, Charles “Red” McCollister acquitted himself in the extremely professional manner that he always brought to any job he undertook…,while performing his part in the film.