Before Stratford, pp. 1-7
as they could not be floated down the river to market. They left behind large pine stumps which were later cleared by the industrious farmers who changed the landscape to fertile fields for agricultural pursuits. The transformation from forest to farms was rapid. The soil beneath the thick forests was thick and ideally suited for agriculture. Lumberjacks worked in the woods during the winter when snow was available to skid logs to logging sleighs which were loaded and pulled to the river banks where they were left to wait for the spring floods. When the snow melted, the rivers became raging torrents and the logs were rolled into the water to hurtle downstream. Pine logs, which had a diameter of three to four feet, were not uncommon and measured 12, 14, and 16 feet in length. It was not unusual to scale some of the large logs at 1,000 to 1,200 board feet and the prices received by the settlers when clearing their land would make a lumber buyer very happy now. In 1889 the price paid for number one grade pine logs which scaled 1,000 board feet was $3 per thousand. During World War I it had gone to $105 and up. Production from the mills was shipped to all parts of the country with a large share of it going to the prairie states. Hemlock was sawed into sheeting, two by fours, three by 12 road planks and heavy boards for sidewalk crossings. White pine went into one inch and one and one-quarter inch shop lumber. Furniture, beer barrel staves and sleigh runners were made from white oak while red oak boards were shipped to manufacturers of high grade furniture and pianos. Birdseye maple was rare and commanded premium prices because of the fancy bedroom furniture which was considered so stylish at that time. The massive pianos of the nineties owed much of their weight to the red oak. Basswood, light in weight, was useful for box boards and a limited supply went into the production of wooden shoes. The lowly rated elms were burned to get them out of the way. The common maples were also disposed of as nuisances. They served the settlers mainly as firewood. The lesser grades of timber were wasted but this same wood, if available now, would have a high value. Logging settlements sprang up along the Little Eau Pleine River and the Big Eau Pleine River in the area surrounding the present sight of Stratford. For more in depth information on the settlement of Mara- thon County see: Louis Marchetti's "History of Marathon County, WI and Representative Citizens" which was pub- lished in 1913.
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