List of lumberjack jargon

From Academic Kids

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
  • Birling: the game of logrolling
  • 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
  • Cayuse: a horse or pony (a Chinook term)
  • 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
  • Deacon seat: a bench, made from a large log split lengthwise, running the length of a bunkhouse
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Hiyu: plenty, large, enough
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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 leaverage 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
  • 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
  • Skidroad: formerly the path over which oxen pulled logs; it came to mean the part of a city where loggers congregate
  • Skookum: strong, stout, brave (Chinook)
  • 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
  • Tin pants: waterproof clothing worn by loggers in the rainy Pacific Northwest
  • Tyee logger: from the Chinook term meaning a chief, hence the head of a logging operation
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