Near Orofino in Clearwater County, Idaho — The American West (Mountains)
Clearwater River Log Drives
Ever since the first cross-cut saws were heard in the remote forests of Clearwater County in the late 1800s, the Clearwater River played a major role in the timber industry of this area. The river served as a means of transportation and by the early 1900s, millions of board feet of cut logs floated to sawmills downriver. From 1928 to 1971, log drives became an annual spring event. Cut logs were released from the upper reaches of the North Fork of the Clearwater River and floated up to 90 miles to the Potlatch Corporation sawmill in Lewiston.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 16, 2020
1. Clearwater River Log Drives Marker
Captions: (upper left) The log drive was timed with the high water of spring runoff when the Clearwater River was free flowing. The water level went up or down, depending on the melting snows. Sometimes there were massive logjams like this one in 1938.; (bottom left) The wanigan bunkhouse. The long white box, on the lower left, was the commissary which offered gloves, cigarettes, boot caulks, and socks for sale. The woodstove, on the right, burned Presto logs which were stored under the floorboards. Over 100 hot meals were served daily in the cookhouse.; (bottom center) Crews used peaveys and pike poles to move up on river banks, sand bars, or islands and return them to the main channel of the river. Crew members were selected as much for their good judgement and safety sense as for their physical ability. Spiked boots and the agility of a cat were critical in a business were one misstep could lead to an icy, if not fatal, dunking in the Clearwater River.
The Floating Camp
During the annual log drives, crew members site and slept in a wanigan - a floating cookhouse and bunkhouse - which moved with the men as they worked down the river. In the 1930s, the wanigan consisted of two rafts lashed together. By the 1950s, the wanigan evolved into a sophisticated three-section pontoon raft over 115 feet long and 26 feet wide complete with outboard motors. Crews of 34 men including a cook where housed in a cookhouse and two bunkhouses.
The Pink House
This recreation site in
named for the pink house which once stood on the knoll near what is now the boat ramp. Owned by Charles and June McCollister, the house was remodeled in 1956. June, an artist, decided the valley needed a splash of color and she painted the wood siding a pure road pink. Sadly, the house no longer exists, but the "Pink House Hole" is still a landmark for area anglers.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 16, 2020
2. Clearwater River Log Drives Marker
Charles McCollister, the log drive foreman for many years would at times moor the wanigan at this beach.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Horticulture & Forestry • Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 46° 30.198′ N, 116° 20.918′ W. Marker is near Orofino, Idaho, in Clearwater County. Marker can be reached from U.S. 12 near Bobbit Bench Grade, on the left when traveling east. The marker is located at the Pink House Recreation Site. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4815 US Highway 12, Orofino ID 83544, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Navigating the Clearwater (here, next to this marker); Canoe Camp (approx. 0.8 miles away); Welcome to Canoe Camp (approx. 0.8 miles away); Orofino: A Fine Place (approx. 0.8 miles away); Pit House Village (approx. 0.9 miles away); 1804-1806 Corps of Discovery
(approx. 0.9 miles away); Ahsakha Village Site (approx. 0.9 miles away); Canoe Building Site (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Orofino.
3. A Wanigan on the Clearwater River
4. Also a wanigan (or wannigan)
For that matter it is also a chuckwagon box or camp kitchen box, or a shantyboat.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 7, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 7, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 36 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 7, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.