The Alpena News, January 23, 1931

 When You Consider Old Timers Of Alpena You Can’t Ignore This Trio

By Wm. J. MacQueen

Few of the men who followed the lumbering game and the river drives of the early or late 70’s around the Alpena waters remain this side of Jordan.  This army has been depleted by the ticks of the clock, by the days that have been checked off the calendar, days which transformed men from the buoyancy of youth to the days when they have become halty in their step and wrinkled in visage.

            One of the old timers who was in the lumbering industry as a material helper often relates in The News events of the days when the pines used to float down the rivers and then sawed into lumber by Alpena sawmills, is Eular Thorne of Long Rapids.  Mr. Thorne brings to mind, in his historical sketches, many of the things that happened in those days and they are interesting to the old times and the younger people who have come into the world after the healthful balm of the pine ceased to load the ozone of the Alpena country and be sniffed into the nostrils.

Real Old Timer

            Mr. Thorne is really one of the old timers.  He came to Alpena, so one of his old Alpena friends states, along in the 60’s and he took to the lumber game like a famished dog to a soup bone.  He worked in many of the camps during the winter and hit the pole trails in the spring.  For many years before the pine timber became extinct, Mr. Thorne scaled logs and often was called on to be foreman of lumber camps.  His work in later years of his activity was for Albert Pack, at one time of the pine kings of the region.

            He is one of the pioneers of the Long Rapids agricultural region and ahs reached well into the years when the hand of time stoops the shoulders.  In speaking of Mr. Thorne, this old friend of his said he had known him over 60 years and he had never known of him being charged with a dishonorable act.  Always free from rowdyism and the vicious habits of the lumber boys, Mr. Thorne carried the respect of those with whom he associated and with those who knew him.

Mr. James McLaughlin, Another

            Another of the big pine wrestlers and river drivers who still perambulates the sidewalks of Alpena is James McLaughlin.  He is one of the hustlers who used to eat the sourdough products of Tim Ryan and Mickey Whalen in the camps and on the rivers.  “Jim” worked one winter at what was known as “Pack’s Village.”  If one were to ask the present class where that village was there would hardly a hand go up.  Pack’s Village was situated on Thunder Bay river about a half mile south of where the concrete bridge spans the river between Hillman and Atlanta on M-32.  This Village, so it is said, came into existence in the 70’s and consisted of a logging camp with a number of smaller camps in which were housed families of men who were working in the woods.  It si related that both Mr. and Mrs. Pack lived there one winter and that Mrs. Pack looked after the camp store of “van.”  Hillman nor Atlanta need get chesty and claim the right to be designated as the first village in Montmorency county, as Pack’s Village has to be reckoned with when it comes to a question of priority.

            Jim was an every summer employee of the boom company and worked under the foremanship of Tom Ryan on the rapids.  There were times when Mr. Ryan had to go to the city or other places and he always left his place filled by a good man – Jim McLaughlin.  Despite the plenty of hard days he has put in the lumber woods and the bows he has put in peevie stocks on the rapids, Jim is a well preserved man and one would hardly believe in looking him over that he drove an ox team in the woods about the time the mill whistles awakened the sleeping papooses in wigwams along the shores of Thunder Bay.

Still Another One

            Rory O’Moore said there was luck in odd numbers so we’ll have to pick off a third victim.  This time we’ll reach out and grab Bill Snyder by the – just going to say forelock where memory halted the act and we remember that he lost his hair years ago and he does not believe in wigs.  But Bill Snyder, the dean of good fellows at Lachine, is another of the shanty boys of the heelless shoepack age.  Mr. Snyder was on the camp road early in the morning when the owls were hooting their farewell and on the same road in the shadows when the wolves were assembling for their heinous activities.  He worked on many of the streams and in several of the logging camps and had many of the experiences that other robust fellows had when pine timber darkened the sun in midday.  He relates that he was working the winter when there was not snow enough on 40 acres for a school boy to roll a snowball and the laying of pole tracks was resorted to.  There are evidences of these pole tracks yet along some of the streams.  Just what method was used in getting the logs to the banking ground is best related by Mr. Snyder as cold type does not make statements emphatic enough.  Mr. Snyder is also one of the well preserved men of the former lumber days.  In fact he is in attendance at all the dances in Charlie Burns’ rink in Lachine and he says howdy to the ladies with the same winning smile he used to wear.

            Maybe there are some other of the real old timers around Alpena but these three are in the fore ranks of the boys who used to tackle pine logs with vim not unlike a camp meeting wringing the tail of the king of hades.