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Old growth and clear streams

It was a very warm late spring morning. I was out at dawn checking our line where we set traps. My father and I had no traps set but we were concerned about the general condition of the forest. There had been several bad windstorms over the winter and we had heard that the blow-downs were treacherous. Some of the loggers had been working these fallen trees before nature started working on them. The loggers said it was easy to cut them because they were already down. But getting them untangled and off to the lumber market was another thing.

I heard the first explosion and knew exactly what was occurring. The lumbermen had not only been cutting lumber but were also creating dams at several strategic locations. The Lost Ponds outlet was where two dams had been built; one on each pond. There was another dam on Otter Brook. Also, the two branches of the Moose River, both North and South, had dams on them.

These dams were built from the poorest logs that the men had cut that fall and winter. The spring thaw filled up the empty areas behind these dams to form lakes. All spring long the men had been dragging logs down the mountains and across Pine Planes. There were several destinations for these logs. They were the lakes and ponds formed by these new dams. Once all the lumber was floating a synchronized flood would be created. That was the reason for the explosion.

I knew that the explosion was only the first of several to follow. That explosion probably occurred on the North Branch of the Moose River. The dam was destroyed by dynamite that the lumberman had purposely set off. The water and logs that were previously behind the dam were now rushing down the Moose. The next explosion, and the next, and the next and the next were all planned to carry the water and logs to their destination. As each flood reached a certain point the next flood would meet it. And then a third, and a fourth and a fifth until the whole Moose River was nothing but one big flood with thousands and thousands of logs floating on top. And on top of the logs were the lumbermen skipping and hopping from log to log. Their job was to ensure that log jams did not occur. It was a fruitless goal. Log jams always occurred. Sometimes it was a narrow passageway that jammed them up. At other times it was a sharp bend in the river.

I don’t know how they did it but the lumbermen had the dam destructions timed to a minute or so of each other. The combined flood of water and logs and men were something to see. I ran down the trail to the Natural Stone Dam on the main Moose. On top of that dam sat another log dam. If I could reach that point before the flood of water I could see the last explosion and the combined force of all that water and logs. My heart rushed; more from the anticipation of all that excitement than from the exertion of my running.

I reached my destination in time. The noise of all that water and the crashing logs drowned out the screams of the loggers as they danced the dance of death. One slip and they would be crushed by the floating mass of lumber. It happened more often than we wished to think about it.

Tahawas and Tomosky c