• A logging camp cookhouse at the Otis and George Harper camp on Tin Cup Creek, 1914. Loggers required large meals and lots of coffee to perform their work. Courtesy of the Darby Community Public Library via Big Sky Country Digital Network.

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    Darby Logging Camp Cookhouse 1914
    • Date
    • 1900
    • Creator
    • Unknown.
    • Description
    • Early day logging camp cookhouse in 1914. This picture was taken at the Otis and George Harper camp on Tin Cup Creek. It was locatged on the flat where the farmer's dam is now located. Left to right is Bert Townsend, the cook, and two unknown helpers... more
      Early day logging camp cookhouse in 1914. This picture was taken at the Otis and George Harper camp on Tin Cup Creek. It was locatged on the flat where the farmer's dam is now located. Left to right is Bert Townsend, the cook, and two unknown helpers with Charlie Gordon at the far right. less
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/.
    • Partner
    • Big Sky Country Digital Network
    • Contributing Institution
    • Darby Community Public Library

  • “Darby Logging Camp Cookhouse.” According to author Bessie Monroe, “the foremost essential in any logging camp was a good cook.” Courtesy of the Darby Community Public Library via Big Sky Country Digital Network.

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    Darby Logging Camp Cook House
    • Creator
    • Bessie Kerlee Monroe.
    • Description
    • Darby Logging in the late 1880s and early 1900s.
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/.
    • Partner
    • Big Sky Country Digital Network
    • Contributing Institution
    • Darby Community Public Library

  • "Logging drive camp on Morrell Flat (Powell County, Montana)" 1910. Men pose in front of the lunch wagon and cook tent. Courtesy of the University of Montana - Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library via Big Sky Country Digital Network.

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    Logging drive camp on Morell Flat
    • Date
    • 1910
    • Description
    • Logging drive camp on Morell flat. Men in photo in front of cook tent are: Keagle (lunch wagon), Norton (Forest Service), Dunstan (Cookee), W. J. Bryon (Foreman), Richmond (Teamster), Dick the cook, and Dominick Ferguson (Foreman). Horse-drawn carria... more
      Logging drive camp on Morell flat. Men in photo in front of cook tent are: Keagle (lunch wagon), Norton (Forest Service), Dunstan (Cookee), W. J. Bryon (Foreman), Richmond (Teamster), Dick the cook, and Dominick Ferguson (Foreman). Horse-drawn carriage on left. less
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/CNE/1.0/.
    • Partner
    • Big Sky Country Digital Network
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Montana--Missoula. Mansfield Library

  • Men rest from the rigors of logging during their break time. Courtesy of the University of Montana - Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library via Big Sky Country Digital Network.

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    Break Time
    • Description
    • Two men sit on the ground in foreground. One man sits against a large stump and has a cup in his hand and a plate on the ground in front of him. A third unidentified man is tending horses in the background. A label affixed to the upper left corner of... more
      Two men sit on the ground in foreground. One man sits against a large stump and has a cup in his hand and a plate on the ground in front of him. A third unidentified man is tending horses in the background. A label affixed to the upper left corner of the photo reads "5." There are some fingerprints and other damage visible to the photo. The word "Dad" has been handwritten on the photo above the man sitting on the right side of the photo. Photo caption reads: Fred Morin, Irene Levesque. less
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/.
    • Partner
    • Big Sky Country Digital Network
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Montana--Missoula. Mansfield Library

Early Montana lumberjacks worked twelve to fourteen-hour days felling trees. They awoke before dawn, ate breakfast, then hiked to the woods to saw and swing axes in the heat or freezing cold. Injury from falling branches or a crushing death among floating logs during a river drive were job hazards to avoid before returning to camp for dinner at day's end. The men often slept two to a bed in crowded bunkhouses infested by bedbugs without the benefit of a shower, toilet, or laundry facilities. Logging was an exhausting, dangerous, and probably smelly affair.

Forester Elers Koch also described the lumberjack life as lonely. “One hears little of laughter and jokes in a logging camp. [The] men eat their enormous meals silently, and sit in the bunkhouse or outside them, tired from the heavy work that goes with the job of man-handling big logs.” The fact that many lumberjacks were immigrants who spoke little English may have contributed to this sense of isolation.

These men sacrificed home comforts and family life for their paychecks only to be taken advantage of by some lumber companies. Until labor unions could organize it was typical for company sanctioned employment “fees” to whittle away hard earned wages to nearly nothing before the men were fired and replaced by new crews. These unfair practices eventually incited strikes and Montana lumber company owners had to negotiate on pay, workday hours, and logging camp conditions.