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Archaeology project looks at early logging history

Residents can view dig on Saturday, May 25

Nearly a century has passed since the Wind River Lumber Company established a lumber camp on the banks of Trout Creek, north of Carson, and began logging the vast forest that filled the Wind River valley.

Many trees were killed by the Yacolt Burn, a tremendous wildfire that burned thousands of acres of forest land in 1902.

For ten years, loggers working out of the camp on Trout Creek cut the timber and drove the logs downstream to the Columbia River.

The camp was abandoned by 1912, and the buildings eventually disappeared.

Archaeologists are now trying to find what is left of the camp and learn what they can about life in this early 20th century lumber camp.

Forest Service archaeologists will excavate a portion of the lumber camp with the help of volunteers from the national Passport in Time public archaeology program. Volunteers have come from as far away as Maine and Kansas to participate in the dig.

The project will be open to the public on Saturday, May 25, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Using photographs of the camp taken between 1910 and 1912, archaeologists have identified the approximate locations of eight buildings at Camp 3, as the place was known.

Excavations will focus on the mess hall, cookhouse, and loggers' bunkhouse. Previous archaeological work had identified the probable location of a blacksmith's shop.

Two years ago, archaeologist's uncovered part of a hewn timber splash dam near the site. Water from the splash dam was used to flush logs downstream where they would be taken to a sawmill at Cascade Locks.

Historical records have shown that Camp 3 was a base of operations for the first large commercial timber sale on the Columbia National Forest (now Gifford Pinchot National Forest) from 1906 to 1909.

Steam-powered "donkey" engines were used to pull the logs to Trout Creek on cables. It was hard and dangerous work. No first-person accounts of life in the lumber camp have survived.

Archaeologists are attempting to reconstruct a picture of daily life at Camp 3 by carefully excavating what remains beneath the ground.

Visitors can reach the site by way of the Wind River Highway from Carson. Eight miles north of Carson, turn left on Hemlock Road, and travel one mile to the Forest Service's Wind River Work Center.

Archaeologists will be working just south of the Work Center office. Passport in Time project signs will mark the site.


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