Montana Outdoors

September 13, 2012

Evans Lake (1)

On August 15th a friend and I hiked to Evans Lake in the Evans Lake Roadless Area, and a half mile or so above the trail head came across this old Cedar stump which still stands as a lonely and rather obscure piece of the history of the area. Its girth is around four feet and the springboard notches in it can still easily be seen. (Loggers in those days cut springboard notches into which they could insert springboards which then could be used as platforms, allowing the loggers to stand and use their cross-cut saws to cut higher-up the base of the tree where the trunk is narrower.)

Cedar stump

In the later part of the 1800’s gold strikes in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains of eastern Idaho were attracting miners from all over the west. In 1883-1884 a road was built up Prospect Creek from the present day town of Thompson Falls Montana which sits beside the Clark Fork of the Columbia River to the foot of the Montana-Idaho divide as access to those Idaho mines. Along that road at Evans Creek, a way-station called Mountain House was built to accommodate those who travelled that road, but it burned in the late 1880s and was not rebuilt. My guess is that this tree was cut and used in the building of that house.


  1. Thank you for that little bit of history!


    Comment by Roberta — September 13, 2012 @ 10:16 pm

    • Specific history of these places is very hard to come by, unfortunately. If I ever find the time I want to do better research, possibly at the U of M library.


      Comment by montucky — September 13, 2012 @ 10:53 pm

  2. I love learning the history of our areas…and wonder what that tree would tell us if it could. I’ve seen photos of the hillsides in our canyons here with tree stumps that are about six feet in height…the captions said that the trees were cut in the deep of winter when the snow was piled high…loggers would cut them to the “usual” height…which was that much higher because of the deep mountain snows….


    Comment by seekraz — September 13, 2012 @ 10:44 pm

    • Snow does add a dimension to things, doesn’t it. Sometimes in late winter or early spring when I’m hiking on the top of several feet of snow I’m glad that those who blazed the trails put the blaze marks so high. In summer they are way above my head, in winter by my feet.


      Comment by montucky — September 13, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

      • That’s near incredible, isn’t it? I see some of those red marks up on the trees in deep winter, as well…can’t see the trail that’s normally there, but those red slashes show-up really well.


        Comment by seekraz — September 14, 2012 @ 6:41 am

  3. Very informative and that’s the point which I love. Thank You.


    Comment by Sartenada — September 13, 2012 @ 10:59 pm

    • I just thought that some folks would find it interesting. I’m glad that you did!


      Comment by montucky — September 13, 2012 @ 11:39 pm

  4. That really is an interesting piece of history and it would be fun to do the detective work to see if your theory is true.


    Comment by Candace — September 13, 2012 @ 11:34 pm

    • Well, it’s a pretty cold trail and things in those days and in those places were never very well documented.


      Comment by montucky — September 13, 2012 @ 11:41 pm

  5. Quite a story. But I still don’t enjoy seeing trees looking like that.


    Comment by Kale — September 14, 2012 @ 1:23 am

    • I don’t either, but at least then, in that specific area, they cut selectively and only enough to use in the local area as opposed to the way logging is done these days.


      Comment by montucky — September 14, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

  6. Hi Montucky, So neat to hear of that history! Great photo of that important stump. Imagine how the loggers and workers labored. Have a super great coming week and a fine day today!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — September 14, 2012 @ 10:07 am

    • I can only imagine the danger in cutting a tree that size that way with a crosscut saw!


      Comment by montucky — September 14, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

  7. A beautiful stump, and an interesting history to go with it.


    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — September 14, 2012 @ 10:14 am

    • I found it so. That sight will slowly go away, replaced by the havoc wreaked by modern feller-bunchers, yarders and skidders leaving hardly anything still standing. The areas logged now by Plum Creek Timber on their holdings look like a battlefield.


      Comment by montucky — September 14, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

  8. an interesting natural monument


    Comment by skouba — September 14, 2012 @ 11:38 am

    • Unfortunately one that is rotting away year by year.


      Comment by montucky — September 14, 2012 @ 8:36 pm

  9. My father had a two man crosscut saw and a friend and I tried to cut a tree down with it once. That was a lot of work! I can’t imagine having to use one all day, everyday to survive.


    Comment by New Hampshire Gardener — September 14, 2012 @ 11:56 am

    • I have used them and rather enjoyed doing it, but not on timber of that size! I worked for the Forest Service during the summer of 1960 and we were trained to use the crosscut. Fortunately we had chain saws on the fires though.


      Comment by montucky — September 14, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

  10. Some people would have walked right past that bit of history. Thanks so much for sharing.


    Comment by sandy — September 14, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    • I’m sure that many people have. I wish they knew.


      Comment by montucky — September 14, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

  11. It was quite the production to cut a tree down in those days. The springboard cuts are like a bit of history “written” in a different kind of language, but telling a story nevertheless.


    Comment by wordsfromanneli — September 14, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

    • Like many things in a forest, the stories are there awaiting anyone who can still read them.


      Comment by montucky — September 14, 2012 @ 8:39 pm

  12. How tall is the stump and how high would you say the notches are off the ground? That must be a very big stump, if the space between the notch and top is the height from a man’s boot to his sawblade!


    Comment by Kim — September 14, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

    • Yes, it’s huge. I didn’t measure it, but the notches were probably about three feet from the ground, maybe a little more. I wish I could have seen the tree!


      Comment by montucky — September 14, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

  13. What an amazing old tree – I bet it could tell some stories.


    Comment by Jo Woolf — September 15, 2012 @ 3:10 am

    • I bet it could! Red Cedar will live about 1000 years and this was cut in the late 1800s so it would have started in 800 to 900 AD. I wonder what this forest was like back then!


      Comment by montucky — September 15, 2012 @ 4:16 pm

  14. Recently, I watched a video of loggers felling a tree. Of course they were using chainsaws, but the process you describe was being followed, and the man with the saw was several feet above the ground. His skill was unbelievable – and by the time the tree was down, I was exhausted!

    I can’t get upset about this kind of artifact. To my mind, it’s a reminder of a time when resources were used more purposefully. It’s rather the same as on a farm. It’s easy for city-dwellers to wish none of the cute animals would land on the dinnertable, but we do need to eat. The problems come with operations driven purely by profit and with no regard for the process. There’s a connection between clear-cutting and overcrowded chicken houses – or so it seems to me. Anyway – wonderful stump, wonderful photo!


    Comment by shoreacres — September 15, 2012 @ 6:26 am

    • I agree. This tree was cut and used for a purpose, not a profit, and selectively at that. I have big problems with companies like Plum Creek Timber that cut everything in an area. Here, they are now cutting timber and sawing it to metric dimensions for shipment to China. To my way of thinking that is dead wrong!


      Comment by montucky — September 15, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

      • And then after they “liquidate” the good timber, they sell the land for recreational properties! And most of the land Plum Creek holds was the result of government land grants to the railroads to encourage their expansion westward more than 100 years ago. Seems like a corruption of the original purpose, doesn’t it?


        Comment by Kim — September 19, 2012 @ 11:47 pm

        • I think the original land grants were corruption of the highest order, but this is even more so.


          Comment by montucky — September 20, 2012 @ 8:52 pm

  15. What a neat piece of history. Like someone else said, it is something that could so easy to walk by without noticing. I love seeing/hearing about things like this.


    Comment by kateri — September 16, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

    • I love it when I come across something like that too. I wonder how long it will be there and how many people will recognize it for what it is.


      Comment by montucky — September 16, 2012 @ 10:41 pm

  16. It must have been a brutal working environment back in those days. I’ve cut smaller trees down with hand saws and it’s hard work. Cutting one that size down must have taken a huge amount of effort.

    As the ravages of time return the rotting stump to the earth posts like this become important as historical records.


    Comment by Finn Holding — September 18, 2012 @ 1:29 am

    • They are indeed historical records, but there fewer and fewer who are able to read them. This stump may well in time out live all of those who might know what it is.


      Comment by montucky — September 18, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

  17. Interesting to hear a bit of the history. If just this tree could talk!


    Comment by Giiid — October 6, 2012 @ 10:48 am

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