forest

Posted by Ellen

The truth is not hard to believe: these guys were in fact trying for a world record in 1893 when they loaded the sled with more than 36,000 board feet of virgin white pine logs from Ontanagon County in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

How did they pile up the load so high? The horses actually did much of the work. The men would lay each log on the ground longside the sled and affix ropes to it that went up and over the load and then back down to the ground on the other side of the sled. That's where the horses were waiting; they would be harnessed to the ropes, and as they were led away from their side of the sled, the ropes would pull the new log up to the top of the heap, guided up the side by angled tracks made from small logs. When the new log reached the top, the men would snag it into place.

How come the sled didn't just sink down in the snow? An ice road had been specially prepared, with the snow sprayed repeatedly with water and allowed to freeze rock-hard. The horses had special shoes with crampons that bit into the ice surface.

Usually, logs hauled this way were taken to a frozen river, awaiting spring, when they'd be floated downstream to a sawmill. But this particular load was pulled for just half a mile by these two horses, to a railroad siding, where the logs and the sled were loaded onto freight cars and shipped to Chicago.

There, at the Michigan pavilion of the 1893 Columbia Exhibition, the load was reassembled, sled and all, treating fairgoers to a glimpse of logging activity in what was then the world's busiest lumber region.

Did they make it into the Guinness Book of Records? We have no idea, but they did claim this was the largest load of lumber in the history of the world.

Note that most of the men here had no gloves, and of course none of them had hard hats.

Posted by Ellen
New Zealand is a land of ferns, notably of tree ferns, which give many Kiwi forests a certain Jurassic Park sort of character. And of course it is also the land of the silver fern, which is botanically one of the endemic tree ferns and artistically an abstracted swirl of a fern frond, as much corporate-style logo as patriotic emblem.
 
How many countries have logos? One recent Kiwi prime minister thought the silver fern belonged on New Zealand's flag, which Kiwis don't seem to wave or display very much and which foreigners often confuse with Australia's flag.
 
There's no silver fern on the flag–yet–though it's been on numerous coins and stamps over the years. The world knows it as the symbol of the fearsome All Blacks rugby team, and it is also associated with centuries-old Maori cultural motifs.
 
Recently, the silver fern has shown up on airplane fuselages, t-shirts, tattoos, beer commercials, wedding cakes, and the foaming milk atop expresso drinks.