Appendix:Glossary of lumberjack jargon

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Stewart Holbrook was a lumberjack-turned-writer whose first book was Holy Old Mackinaw: A Natural History of the American Lumberjack (ISBN 1112559892). That book, first published in 1938, includes a Loggers Dictionary which defines some of the jargon of the lumberjack. The following list is excerpted from that and other sources:

  • Barber chair: a tree which splits upward along the grain during falling.
  • Batteau: a type of boat used on river drives in the eastern United States
  • Branding ax: a tool used for marking ownership of a log
  • Buck: to cut a tree into lengths after it has been felled
  • Bucker: one who saws trees into logs
  • Bullcook (also known derogatorily as the crumb boss): a boy who performs chores around camp, such as sweeping up the bunkhouse, cutting wood for fuel, filling wood boxes, and feeding the livestock

Cat Skinner: bulldozer operator

  • Cayuse: a horse or pony (a Chinook term)

Chokers: cables hooked around logs for removal Choker Setter: he ties steel cables around logs so they can be dragged away. Entry-level job in the woods: hard, dirty, and dangerous Cold Deck: a stack of logs left over from last year. Never climb on them like that Camel cigarette ad. They are notoriously unstable and will roll you out flat like Wile E. Coyote but not nearly as funny.

  • Conks: fruiting bodies of fungus in rotting wood
  • Corks: short, sharp spikes set in the soles of shoes
  • Crotch line: a device for loading logs onto railroad cars
  • Crown fire: a forest fire that reaches into the tops of trees

Crummy: any company vehicle (or railroad car) taking loggers to the worksite.

  • Deacon seat: a bench, made from a large log split lengthwise, running the length of a bunkhouse

Deck: a stack of logs awaiting loading. They are unstable and you never turn your back on them, much less climb on them. See Cold Deck.

  • Dehorn: a term for an alcoholic beverage, particularly moonshine, borrowed from the jargon of the Wobblies
  • Donkey: a stationary multiple drum machine, powered by steam until the prevalence of the internal combustion engine
  • Drag day: the point in the work month when a man can get an advance on his wages
  • Driving pitch: high water suitable from driving logs down a river
  • Duplex: a stationary engine that both assembles (yards) and loads logs

Dutchman: something stuffed under a log to keep the cut "kerf" from closing up and jamming the saw while you are bucking it Faller: the man who downs the trees, a very dangerous job. He is obliged to shut off the saw and shout a warning just before the tree falls. This is never, ever, "Timber", but maybe "Look out!", "Headache!", "There'll be hell on the hillside Annie!" or (when a state safety inspector is present): "Can you hear me now you wall-eared cocksucker?"

Fucking the dog: goofing off

  • Gandy dancer: a pick-and-shovel man
  • Gin pole: a short spar, used for loading and unloading logs
  • Gyppo: contract work (or worker), measured by the inch or bushel for example, or by the mile in the case of a truck driver. Also refers to any small logging outfit with no imputation of ill-repute.
  • Hardtack outfit: a company running a logging camp which provides substandard food (derived from the cheap and long-lasting cracker or bread of the same name)
  • Hayburner: a horse
  • Highball: to hurry

Hook Tender: works under a helicopter attaching a giant hook to logs. Very hard and dangerous, also with massive static electricity

  • Hiyu: plenty, large, enough (Chinook)
  • Homeguard: a long-time employee of a company
  • Hoot-nanny: a small device used to hold a crosscut saw while sawing a log from the bottom up
  • Ink slinger: a logging camp timekeeper
  • Iron burner: the camp blacksmith
  • Jagger: a sliver of wire
  • Jerk wire: a line attached to the whistle on a yarding donkey, by which a young man (a punk) blows starting and stopping signals
  • King snipe: the boss of a track-laying crew
  • Klooch: a woman (Chinook)

Knot Bumper: works on the landing unhooking chokers and cutting off knots and stubs prior to loading Landing: small flat area where logs meet trucks

  • Long logger: a logger working in the fir and redwood country of the Western U.S., where logs were often cut in lengths up to 40 feet

Lumberjack: an entertainer in shows which feature ax-throwing, pole climbing, & etc. A man who "works in the woods" is a logger not a lumberjack.

  • Macaroni: sawdust
  • Memaloose: dead, or death (Chinook)
  • Mulligan car: a railroad car where lunch is served
  • Nosebag: a lunch bucket
  • Nosebag show: a camp where the midday meal is taken to the woods in lunch buckets
  • Packing a balloon: carrying one's blankets
  • Packing a card: to be a member of a union, such as the Wobblies
  • Peavey (also known as cant dog): a tool with a sharp point and a movable hook on it, used on a river to create leverage when moving floating logs
  • Pecker pole: a small tree, often found in the understory of old growth
  • Potlatch: a social gathering (a Chinook term)
  • Pulaski: a thick-handled tool with oval eye used as a combination axe and hoe, named after its inventor

Punkin': a particularly nice large log

  • Schoolmarm: a log or tree that is forked, stable in river driving because it does not roll easily
  • Short staker (or boomer): a worker who quits after earning a small sum

Sidehill: hillside Siderod: second in command Skidder: tractor especially made for dragging logs to the landing

  • Skidroad: the path down which logs are pulled; formerly by animals, now with specialized machines. It came to mean the part of a city where loggers congregate
  • Skookum: strong, stout, brave (Chinook)

Snag: a standing dead tree. Wonderful for owls; unpredictable and deadly dangerous for loggers

  • Snoose: damp snuff or chewing tobacco
  • Snubber: a device for braking sleighs as they descend steep hills
  • Sougan: a heavy woolen blanket
  • Swedish fiddle: a crosscut saw
  • Tillicum: a Chinook term used also by loggers to mean a man, ordinarily a friend

Timberbeast: a wild and unruly logger.

Widow Maker: a dead limb above you on a tree Loggers motto: "I can walk the log, I can fuck the dog, I can drink muddy water out of a greasy hard hat".