MY LUMBERJACK SHORT STORY / A logging world competition
Traditions are part of the culture, and they are always linked to history. As a lover of the traditions and culture of America, I always strive to know the origin of activities, festivals, or places on my road trips. Usually, these traditions develop and rise in small communities and are usually a consequence of their daily activities or lifestyle. This is how history is written every day.
I was recently invited to go to one of the most emblematic, hard, and fun events of this country, part of the logging tradition; The Lumberjack® World Championships held annually on the shores of Lake Hayward in Wisconsin.
Three days of exciting, amazing, and enthusiastic sawing, chopping, speed climbing, log rolling boom-running competition. I was excited and this was a great time to wear my Yellowstone Leather Jacket!
The first Lumberjack® World Championships (LWC) was held in Hayward, WI, back in 1960 in a pond located on the shores of Lake Hayward, however, the competitions between lumberjacks began in 1890.
Hayward, WI, was a historical theme park that commemorated the heritage of the region's fur trade, Native American culture, and logging industry. While Historyland no longer stands, the Lumberjack World Championships have stood strong for over 60 years. At its beginning, the Lumberjack Bowl was once a holding pond for log drives down the Namekagon River and while timber sports were born over a century ago, the sport continues to grow in worldwide popularity today.
Logging has been a key part of American history and is deeply linked to the growth of this country since the 1600s generating a whole culture and a way of living. There is possibly no American who hasn't heard of America's most beloved and heroic lumberjack; Paul Bunyan, and his blue ox called Babe. Bunyan is a character that was created by American journalist James Mac Gillivray and represents and honors the hard work of the people that gave life to the logging industry for many centuries. The character has been a fundamental part of American Folklore for many years.
The logging industry has been a vital element for survival, such as building houses, keeping warm, and represents livelihoods for carpenters, builders, furniture manufacturers, and countless others linked to this industry.
Logging emerged when the first settlers began arriving in Jamestown in 1607 and has formed a booming economic structure ever since. Logging became incredibly important when the need to build houses and ships became more prevalent. In fact, in the 1790s, New England was exporting 36 million board feet of pine and at least 300 ship masts per year.
The lumber industry was so large and in demand that the New England area regularly shipped lumber and products elsewhere, and with the start of the Industrial Revolution, the demand for lumber in general skyrocketed. During the 1830s, Bangor, Maine became the world's largest lumber shipping port in the United States.
What started as a small event has grown into the premier and most respected wood sport and competition in the world. Each year, over a hundred competitors from around the world will compete in Wood Sports disciplines ranging from sawing and chipping to speed climbing, log rolling, boom-running & more. Every year, some 12,000 spectators flock to the LWC to witness not only the fierce competition at the Lumberjack Bowl but to experience the celebration of lumber sports, gastronomy, and a music festival.
Today, the sound of falling wood still resonates in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, however, the sounds of today are very different from those of yesteryear. The rattle of yoke chains on yokes of oxen and the rhythmic back and forth of a six-foot saw has been replaced by the roar of powerful skidders and the high-pitched whine of chainsaws. Now more than ever, this industry faces the great challenge of surviving in a controlled, sustainable, and environmentally responsible way.
Paying homage to the past, the Lumberjack World Championships continues to celebrate the skills of the best lumberjacks and lumberjills, their speed, balance, light-footedness, strength, focus, and amazing woodworking skills.