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TimberWest November/December 2013

November/December 2015

Photo of Bighorn Logging’s yarder taken by Lindsay Mohlere.

Emerald Valley Keeps on Keeping on
Resolve and flexibility are the hallmark of Emerald Valley Thinning

The Challenges of Change
Harve Dethlefs retired from electronics and began a career in logging

Don’t Overlook the Value of Alder
Defiance Forest Products discusses the marketability of Alder

A Lifetime in the Woods
Gardner Logging & Road Construction

Biomass Column
Colorado Woody Biomass Plant Plays Waiting Game

Pacific Logging Congress Review


In the News

Tech Review - Portable Grinders

Association News

Machinery Row

New Products

Guest Column








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Gardner Logging & Road ConstructionA Lifetime in the Woods

Gardner Logging & Road Construction

By Leslie Danielson

Warren Gardner has witnessed logging evolve from iconic lumberjacks to highly advanced equipment operators. And he’s always happy to share glimpses into a perhaps overlooked period in logging history.

Starting out on a K-20 Celtrac crawler

It would seem that Warren was destined to be a logger, when his father John Gardner began the Gardner Logging and Road construction company in the early 1920s. Growing up in Addy, Washington, Warren operated his first K-20 Celtrac crawler at the age of six. Early models such as the Celtracs and Caterpillar 30 and 60 weren’t easy to operate. They required skill and patience, and Warren had plenty of it. His drive and ingenuity at a young age showed that he was truly ahead of his time. By sixteen he had already begun building roads alongside his father, inheriting his dad’s working spirit and passion for the Caterpillar crawlers.

Warren (top) loves his old CATS. He still runs the D7 he purchased in 1948.
Photos here also include a 324 D and an old jammer.

Early on, the company employed around 40 men, who worked long hours and stayed in the Gardner logging camps until the jobs were done. Managing with traditional logging equipment such as horse teams, jammers, steam donkeys, and just plain manual labor, they moved the legendary old growth timber to the mills.

“It took four or five men to do what one guy can do today,” Warren explains, putting the amount of physical labor into perspective. Standing timber was felled by hand and moved into the hauling phase, which at the time was heavily concentrated around horse teams. The logs were then transported to mills by methods of splash dams, log flumes, or Shay engines from the mountainous terrain.

Jammer Arrives in the 40s

Advancements were being implemented to adjust to the ever-changing demands of the job. It wasn’t long before cable logging took over and phased out the use of horse teams for skidding altogether. Designed specifically for the logging industry, cable logging developed into a highly useful machine known as the jammer.

When a new jammer cable skidding system was needed for the company’s production, Warren built one himself. Using his father’s old 1917 Federal truck, he built a single drum jammer in 1946, which they ran frequently.

“It would pull big pines for them. It would bust a guy line every once in a while and flip it over,” Warren recalls with a chuckle, adding that brains were beginning to beat out brawn. The great thing about jammers was that they could be built out of anything with an engine; by simply mounting the system to a truck, logs could then be skidded with little effort over difficult terrain. These innovations by men like Warren were changing the face of logging.

Gardner Logging & Road ConstructionJammers continued to improve throughout the years, and different varieties are used today. Any type of excavator with a 50-foot boom, equipped with double allied winches, can offer a thousand feet of available reach. These double-drum cable systems with electric over hydraulics are now the new standard, providing the modern day logger with an advantage over steep terrain.

Road Building

Alongside logging operations, numerous road construction and dozing jobs were being done by the company as well. Warren began building roads at sixteen, proving to be better than many operators at the time, and he continued to improve his operating skills using the fleet of Caterpillar’s crawlers, including many D6, D7, and D8s the company owned throughout the years.

Post WWII, the Cat crawlers began to be utilized heavily in the woods and in building roads. Early models of cable blades were controlled and took a tremendous amount of finesse to build high quality roads such as Warren did.

“In them days when you started on a hill, I would get a big hunk of dirt over here, hoist that blade up and keep pushing, and it would stay like that for quite a ways and then I could start cutting,” Warren explains. By utilizing this strategy, he had no problems hooking the cable driven blades into the dirt to begin constructing roads. “When somebody says you can’t do anything with a cable dozer, they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Warren says. He proved that with the 8oo-plus miles of road he built with the D-7 cable blade Caterpillar he bought in 1948.

Gardner Logging & Road ConstructionSelling Direct

In earlier times, the company was selling to many lumber companies in the area. “In 1947 I made real money selling to Columbia and Emerson lumber companies,” Warren recalls.

Warren’s competition days and his collections.

The best year he claims to have had was when he was a gyppo logger, selling directly to the mills and getting paid by volume, between 1941 and 1948. “We logged about a million a month, for a good productive month,” Warren says, noting he ran a crew of around 25 men falling timber by hand. Despite the successful yields, there were often snags that slowed the company throughout the years, between war and labor strikes, times were often tough for Gardner’s logging crew. But as any true logging outfit would, they carried on. Eventually Warren became sole owner of the business. “I bought a used D-6 Caterpillar, a new truck, and fixed up my jammer,” Warren recalls. Once he took hold, he continued to work jobs all over the Inland Northwest region, working contracts and gyppo jobs that came his way. Managing a smaller crew of six to eight men and quickly advancing logging techniques, Warren adapted to the times, getting more done with less overhead. “I made more money that way,” he says. In 1962, an operator was making $3.26 an hour and a laborer was making $2.50 per hour working for the Gardener Logging Company. Union dues were also paid at that time, and a fee of 10 to 15 dollars was paid monthly, as Warren recalls.

By 1968, Gardner logging operations began to wind down and the company concentrated more on road building. Warren claimed many jobs throughout the years; however, in 1975 he took an opportunity to work for Potlatch. He was asked by the man in charge at the time, if he could run a D-8 Caterpillar. Warren responded, “Yes, sir, in fact I could give you a haircut with a Cat,” he recalled with a smile. For the next 14 years, Warren built many roads for Potlatch around the St. Joe drainage. He built roughly 25 to 30 miles of road a year during that 14-year stretch, an amazing amount of work for one man and a dozer.

Gardner Logging & Road ConstructionIt wasn’t always all work and no play for Warren Gardner. His life accomplishments spill over into many different areas, including his award for being 1956 Wood Chopping Champion, with a time of 34.6 seconds for a 16” diameter log, an impressive endeavor.

“I always tried to be the best at everything I did,” Warren explains, and that could never be denied. Many thousands of miles have met the blade of Warren’s dozers, as he contributed to an unsurpassable amount of history that lies in the dirt roads he built from the Marble Valley of Washington, to the deep Floodwoods of Northern Idaho.