Thursday, February 11, 2010

Firing up the wayback machine

I've been going through old floppies recently, transferring files that I'd forgotten I had.  Most of what I've come across has been stuff that if it was paper would have been in a recycling bin long ago, but there were a few files worth saving, including these images  of the Lullabye logging operation on Outer Island.
Outer Island is part of the Apostle Islands archipelago in Lake Superior, and is called Outer Island for a reason.  It's the farthest out from mainland Wisconsin and can be the hardest to get to.  Nonetheless, once the timber on the mainland had been cut over, the lumber industry managed to get to the island multiple times, with the final major logging activity taking place in the 1950s, which is when most of these photos were taken.
The photos show the logging activities done by Ed Bush, a contractor from Ladysmith, Wisconsin, and his crew.  They harvested hardwoods like birch for use by the Lullabye Furniture Company of Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Lullabye specialized in manufacturing cribs and other furniture for infants and children, hence the name.  The remains of the camp are known today as Lullabye Logging.  When the logging operation ended, a lot of equipment was simply abandoned in place -- it wasn't viewed as being worth hauling back to the mainland. 
Equipment was hauled to the island with a World War II surplus landing craft, The Outer Island (originally LCT(5)-103), owned by the Lullabye Furniture Company.  Logs left the island via that same landing craft.  Because getting to the island by boat wasn't always possible, particularly in the winter when Chequamegon Bay froze over, Lullabye decided to construct an airport.  

Above, the hanger on Outer Island in 1956.  Below, that same hanger in 2001. 

One of my assignments when I worked at Apostle Islands was to assess the condition of the surviving structures associated with Lullabye logging. The camp was easy. There's a clear, well-maintained trail to it from the light station. Assessment was easy, too. "Ruin" is nice short word.

The air strip was a different matter.  It's still visible from the air--it takes a long time for an opening that big to revegetate to the point of blending in seamlessly with surrounding forest--but finding it on the ground involved some bushwhacking.  But find it we eventually did, and discovered the hanger slowly mouldering into the soil.  

We also found an old-fashioned sickle bar riding mower, an artifact that's destined to totally baffle any future hiker who stumbles across it sitting in the middle of an officially designated wilderness area. 


  1. There's something almost sane about the scope and size of logging operations such as this one. Unfortunately, here in the West, especially in the redwood regions, the scale wasn't as small.

    Nice photos. Thanks.

  2. We also found an old-fashioned sickle bar riding mower,

    Can't say that I've ever seen a sickle bar on a riding mower myself. I had a sickle bar in Montana before moving here but it was attached to a cute little Massey Ferguson Pony tractor.

    My computer is too new to look at my old floppy's so I've been destroying them, any pictures of interest on them are buried in the guts of this hard drive anyway, if I went to look for them.

    On on the copy of the hard drive out of my last computer that they put a copy of on this unit when I bought it.

    I grew up in logging and mining towns, I think that old mining digs are more interesting to snoop around in.

  3. I've actually used a sickle bar mower. We pulled it with a tractor, not a horse; I operated the mower, the S.O. drove the tractor. Then we raked the hay using a McCormick Deering dump rake, also ridden by yours truly.

  4. Thanks for the memories... been three years now since I was out there last.

  5. Good stuff. One of my Ashland buddies told everyone for a year that we had msde it to Outer in a kayak. Apparently when he was growing up, even getting there in a boat was dicey. Great post and a wonderful island.

  6. Anything Great Lakes is well worth seeing/exploring


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