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July 6, 2014

A cut above: Woodsmen's Days relive history of logging industry

From the staccato of axes, the rhythm of two-person cross-cut saws slicing timber, to the ear-shattering roar of souped-up chainsaws, woodsmen and woodswomen relive the logging industry at the annual Woodsmen’s Days.

For the past three decades, Tupper Lake has held its annual Woodsmen’s Days with a plethora of events that include bow saws, cross-cut saws, chain saws, peaveys for log rolling, springboards and axes for chopping and throwing.

In addition, there is a parade, chain-saw carving contests and exhibitions, heavy-equipment maneuvering, a horse pull competition, and numerous events for youngsters.

This year’s Woodsmen’s Days are Friday, July 11, through Sunday, July 13, at the Municipal Park on DeMars Blvd. (Route 3) in Tupper Lake.

TRADITIONS

Contests like this originated when loggers, who generally resided in camps for long periods of time, looked for something to occupy their spare time.

Tate Connor, a forester for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and former Woodsmen director, was the event’s emcee for the previous seven years.

“The sport keeps alive the traditions and skills of the old-time lumberjacks who produced the timber mostly through sheer muscle power,” Connor explained.

Connor, who participated as well, feels the most difficult event is the springboard chop, in which competitors have to cut notches in a tree to support boards that in turn had to support them as they wielded their axes.

“This involved precision cutting to make sure you did not fall, and then the power to chop through the pole.”

During competition, Connor might spur the crowd to encourage the participants.

“They get tired chopping in the hot sun. ‘Help her out, folks. Cheer for her.’”

 EQUIPMENT

Though muscle power is evident in the events, there are many other considerations.

The equipment is paramount as the axes are honed with face-shaving edges, as are the razor-sharp saw blades.

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