Academic journal article Historical Journal of Massachusetts

Dynamite, Whiskey and Wood: Connecticut River Log Drives 1870 - 1915

Academic journal article Historical Journal of Massachusetts

Dynamite, Whiskey and Wood: Connecticut River Log Drives 1870 - 1915

Article excerpt

Dynamite, Whiskey and Wood: Connecticut River Log Drives 1870 - 1915 (DVD). Directed and narrated by Ed Klekowski. Produced by WGBY TV, Springfield, MA. 2011.

Many have never heard of the Connecticut River log drives. They occurred during a time in New England history that has been forgotten, swept away like many of our previous New England traditions. The longest drives in American history have finally been documented in the documentary Dynamite, Whiskey and Wood. The documentary brings back the forgotten history of the Connecticut River log drives of the period between the 1870s and 1910s. Every year in April, river men from across the Northeast would drive spruce logs from Northern Vermont and New Hampshire down the Connecticut River to Massachusetts lumber companies. Over a quarter of a million spruce logs traveled 300 miles before reaching sawmills in Massachusetts. Much of the lumber from these saw mills built nineteenthcentury cities such as Greenfield, Holyoke, Springfield, and Hartford. The tall tales that were once the river's lore in the 1800s are brought back to life in Dynamite, Whiskey and Wood.

The documentary allows the viewer to follow the journey from the beginning of the log drive to the end and provides a rich culture and history about the men who worked on the drives. It places the viewer as if he or she were actually a part of the drive, which proves to be a valuable experience in understanding how these log drives were conducted over a century ago. It captures the hardships endured by the men who worked the drives, the various tools they used and implements that had to be constructed along the Connecticut River for the drives to succeed, the culture and diversity the drives brought along the banks of the river to towns across Northern New England, and finally, the contributions of the river drives to the construction of Massachusetts nineteenth century cities.

The documentary utilizes a wide variety of primary sources, including geographical maps, pictures, past and present videos of the river, newspaper articles, underwater video, individual interviews, and letters, to name just a few. …

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