Learning about the old way to log

Sun brings crows to exhibit at Pomeroy

By Bob Albrecht, Columbian Staff Reporter

Published:

 

Self-described “study buddies,” Steve Roberts and Alison Duff got a crash course in 1920s era logging during a Saturday field trip to Pomeroy Living History Farm.

If you go

What: Pomeroy Living History Farm’s Historic Steam Logging.

When: Today from 1 to 5 p.m.

Where: 20902 N.E. Lucia Falls Road, Yacolt.

Information: 360-686-3537 or www.pomeroyfarm.org.

Admission: $6 for adults, $4 for children ages 3 to 11.

The learned lesson? Black and white museum photos of steam donkeys and loaders don’t do it justice.

“I like the fact that they know so much about it,” Roberts, 30, said of the men who volunteer to run the machinery through the two-day exhibition. “It makes you realize how far we’ve advanced.”

New to Clark County, Roberts said he likes to get out of Vancouver to see and experience new things. He met Duff, a 23-year-old native of Battle Ground, in class at Clark College and the two have been off and running on the weekends like chugging, whistling steam engines ever since.

And on Saturday, what was new to him, was old hat to Duff. “I’ve been coming since I was a kid,” Duff said.

Yet, the charm of a ride atop hay bails towed behind a tractor to the logging demonstration was the easy answer for both to an 82-degree day with the just-right breeze.

“Anytime there’s something new going on, I’m all about checking it out,” Roberts said. “She got to know that about me pretty quick.”

Corey Young, a tree faller from Coos Bay, volunteered with the annual exhibition for the second straight year. He helped attach hooks to 20-foot logs so they could be lifted using a loader onto a trailer, fueling an effort designed to show off how logging was done back before the history books were sent to the printers.

He said he was struck by the quiet that fell over the woods when the steam donkey was turned off, a stark break from the constant hum of diesel engines he hears during his regular wooded workdays.

“Loggers nowadays don’t know silence in the woods,” he said, shaking his head. “It makes me wish I was born two generations earlier.”

For many, including Mike Rotschy, who logs the modern way for his business, Rotschy Timber Management in Amboy, the event was all about connections across generations. Rotschy put together the show with equipment he has refurbished starting in 1999, joining with Pomeroy three years later.

His great-grandfather, both grandfathers and his father were loggers.

“When you go to a museum, it’s stationary and hard to imagine,” he said between shifts as the donkey puncher, which is a term used to describe the donkey’s operator. “At least people can get a little flavor of what’s going on.”

Over two days, Rotschy said he expected up to 700 people to take in the exhibition. Among those out there Saturday were Derek Hendershaw, 42, of Brush Prairie and sons Ty, 9, and Cade, 6. They went with Hendershaw’s father-in-law, 72-year-old David Ritola, who said he has an interest in logging he wanted to share.

“It’s quite the set-up they used to have,” Hendershaw said as Ty and Cade, standing between him and their grandfather, watched logs hoisted onto the trailer. “They like taking it in.”

It’s a family affair, too, for Carl and Carson DeRoo, who took turns driving a modern Caterpillar tractor that hauled downed trunks into place so the old-school equipment could take center stage.

At just 11, Carson’s in his second year helping out at the farm. “He does good on it,” Carl DeRoo said of his son. “He wants to run the bigger stuff.”

Carl DeRoo’s been helping at the exhibition for six years.

“It’s kind of a family thing for dad,” said Carl’s wife Shana DeRoo, who stayed on the sidelines observing with 6-year-old Savannah.

Roberts and Duff took their tractor ride back to the Farm Cafe with her parents, Bruce and Kathy Duff.

Events at Pomeroy are tradition for the Duffs.

“We come up two or three times a year, depending on the festivities,” Bruce Duff said. “To see how people lived, 60, 70 years ago, it’s a piece of history.”