Working the stumpy land

Continuing with Gerald Nathan Hodgson’s Northwest family narrative, with thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson:

The official survey lines of Granddad’s place took in a portion of the land Dad had cleared and also the route of the present road up the hill, 365 total acres. The present road was built during my childhood, and has been repaired and modified many times since then. My brothers did most of the original work. Trees were felled sidewise of the hill and then worked down against other trees and stumps. Then with grub hoes, picks, shovels and crowbars, earth and rocks were worked out of the steep hillside to cover the fallen trees and make a narrow wagon track. Numerous slides came down over the years and had to be shoveled out.

A man named Bill Little made some alterations and blasted some stumps so that he could better use the road for hauling cedar poles. Later, the log cribbing was burnt out and additional work had to be done to make the road usable. In the past twenty years or so the county has graded the road around twice a year. I myself have spent $150 for bulldozer work on the road, and have done a great deal of horse, tractor and hand labor on it. It is still steep but has a fairly uniform grade and is very wide for a mountain road. If it were abandoned for a few years, it would become impassable. At the moment, it has slide in it which would have filled the original road.

Dad’s first road up the hill followed a canyon bottom higher up, crossed a low ridge and followed a short grade and finally came out on the ridge below where the Old house stands. A log barn stood there up till a time of my recollection.

The first road down Boulder Creek was built in the same way as my present road except that there was a little more community action

Except for the times when Dad went away to find employment, he lived mostly making railroad ties with a chopping axe and broadaxe. In those days, they had to be only semi-peeled — one year they did not have to be peeled at all. The Great Northern was condemned one year and afterward, for a while, they bought anything that looked remotely like a tie stick,’ Dad hauled some of his ties down to the steep hill where he packed the stove up and shot them down to the railroad truck. When they needed them bad enough, they would pick them up anyplace. Later, they had to be piled neatly at specified landings. Most of Dad’s ties, I think, were piled out at what we called the Log Landing spur at the Roy Hatch Canyon road which goes down through what is now the Lakin place.

For some reason, Dad early quit using the old tie camp road, probably because the Roy Hatch Canyon road was used the most and accordingly the most likely to be open. Somewhere along the line, the county got around and built a road of sorts up the Columbia and Kettle rivers from Marcus Ferry. It was a very narrow winding and rough road, but a lot of early day automobiles traveled it from 1918 until the middle twenties when the first graveled highway was constructed.

[Note: I don’t think l have made quite clear, the location of the Tie Camp Road. It goes down about midway the length of Granddad’s Montie’s) flat. It then turns into the draw farthest to the right through the A. J. Hatch homestead to a point above the railroad, where it eventually hooked into the old County road. A. J. and his son Hiram fenced off the upper part of their place for cow pasture and installed gates which discouraged further use. For those who are not aware, Hiram Hatch was married to Aunt Kate’s sister Carrie.]

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