Early Logging Days


     "Nobody does manual labor like we used to do. Not in this day and time. W. B. Townsend, McCormick, and a couple of others (they were all loggers from Pennsylvania) started the Little River Logging Company in 1908. They worked steady, cutting and shipping until 1927. For most of those years, except for service in World War I, I (Walt Cole, a longtime resident of the Gatlinburg area - a young 90 years of age) held some kind of job with the Little River Logging Company.

     "I was logging on Jake's Creek in 1909. At the same time, part of the crew alternated at helping the track crew shoot several of the solid rock bluffs along the Little River gorge." (Tracks had to be laid to make transportation to the lumber by train possible.)

     "We had two steam drills that would pull 22 feet. If you needed to go deeper, four men used a churn drill, operated entirely by hand. After your hole was as deep as you needed, you stuck in four or five sticks of dynamite and filled the rest of the hole with sand. The hole made by this explosion was then filled with Judson power and dynamite, causing an explosion that knocked off the remaining portion of the bluff."

     "Ad you might imagine, working with dynamite, and around trains and sawmills was more than a little dangerous. Charley Badget's (the superintendent) father was killed in a train wreck, but he was not the only one. All in all, it would be hard to imagine more rough or dangerous work. And in those days, a grown man worked a full day for a dollar; a young man received half wages. It's hard to imagine a teenage boy workin' a full day for 50 cents."

     "I rode in my first motor car in 1914. They called this particular car a "copperhead" because of the copper band around the hood. I was drafted not long after than and served in the first World War until 1917. One of the first people I met after getting out of service was Mr. Ed Imes. He was coming into the Elkmont store as I was going out. He looked at me kind of strange and told me he'd heard I was killed in the war. I agreed that I'd herd the same thing, but I knew it to be a lie."

     "I spent the next several years, after the Little River Logging Co. closed down, working for the park service. This, like logging, was mighty rough work. One of the first fellows hired to work with us was John Dodgen. The foreman didn't think much of John's chances to last out the week even. I, however, knew what to expect from John Dodgen; he was tough as whang leather. He not only lasted out the week, he worked with our crew for years."

     "For those that might be interested, Bill Hooks puts on an awful good presentation of the Little River Logging Co. Old man Jim Shelton provided much of the information, and Jim was there from start to finish." 

~ Craig McCarter as told by Walt Cole