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As It Was: Logging camp families had rural lifestyle

When the Medford Corporation was railroad-logging out of Butte Falls, Oregon, in the 1920s, life for a logger’s family was not easy.

The company built rails into the woods, cut down trees that were hauled to the rail line and loaded on railcars. When all the big trees in one area had been logged, they moved the railroad to another area.

A dozen loggers’ families lived in company-owned, one-bedroom homes built on skids and about the size of railroad cars. When the rail line moved, so did the houses. Steam-driven log loaders placed them on railcars for delivery at the new campsite. Bachelors lived in a bunkhouse at the same camp.

The train took individual grocery lists to the head office in Medford and returned with the supplies the next day.

The camps were without electricity, and the term “running water” meant running to the stream, filling a bucket of water and running back home. Women scrubbed clothes on a washboard.

“It was a rural lifestyle, but our neighbors were living the same way We have lots of good memories,” a camp child, Zelda Edmondson, recalled years later in an oral-history interview.

Source: Chambers, Anne. “Oral interview with Bill and Zelda Edmondson.” “Oral History Interviews Volume III: From the “Upper Rogue” to the “Dead Indian Plateau”.” Recollections: People and the Forest, Rogue River National Forest, 1990, soda.sou.edu/awdata/020829c1.pdf. Accessed 27 Nov. 2016. As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.

Photo courtesy of Southern Oregon Historical Society, image No. 13085Bert Nason was a ranger at the Mill Creek Ranch guard station which was half way between Prospect and Union Creek. Shown here about 1920, Nason was well known for his bean pie. A life-long bachelor, he attended most community affairs and when food was called for made a white navy bean pie.