By Barbara Coyner
When he was 18, Drew Curran followed in the footsteps of his father and his grandfather before him, as he embarked on a career in logging. His twin brother Dale joined him, as they felled timber and set chokers.
Just one year later, in 1974, Drew won a lifetime subscription to TimberWest, as he and Dale competed at a logging sports show in Northern California. Although Drew is retired from logging now, and enjoys driving a senior citizen bus in Redding, California, he has gained plenty of perspective about logging as both a logger and as a steady reader of TimberWest.
“I knew in high school where I was going,” Drew says, “My dad was going to have us in the woods. I loved it and made a good living at it. Logging was good to me.”
During many of those years, Drew worked for J.W. Fisher Logging as a cat skidder operator. He also worked for Pew Forest Products and Wheeler Logging. Things changed in 2005, when he and Dale took a break from logging to care for their mom who had fallen into poor health. Yet even as he stayed out of the woods for that time, issues of TimberWest kept coming to Curran, who was amazed at how much his profession was changing. Mechanization was adding new and exciting chapters.
“I always read the magazine, first to see if there’s anyone I know being written up,” Curran says. “Then I read about the equipment they’re using. It’s amazing watching the harvesters and how they can work the steep ground, and how they can cut a tree and spin it away. There are just some places where a faller can’t wedge and get a log to fall away like that.”
Curran admits that he loves being around log processors, harvesters, and other high-tech equipment now featured in TimberWest. But he also notes a recent TimberWest article about a logging company that still logs the old conventional way. “I read that and wonder how he makes it. But then sometimes when I see a log truck go by with really big logs on it, I know a hand faller had to be doing the work.”
Starting out his career in places like Happy Camp and other logging outposts, Drew reflects on how many memories he has made, starting with his early days handling a chainsaw. But the long and winding road in the woods has not been pain-free, such as when he lost a brother in a logging accident. More recently, he lost Dale to cancer, noting that losing his twin is especially hard because they were always together.
Now driving a bus full of seniors to health appointments, Curran concedes that life is certainly safer than in his days in the woods. Occasionally he has a passenger who made a career in logging and is eager to share stories. Clearly the profession enjoys a special bond.
“Being out of the woods has its benefits, and I have five grandchildren I get to enjoy more now,” he says of his new bus driving job, which doesn’t require getting up in the middle of the night to go to work. “But I always look forward to TimberWest and the further knowledge I get from it.”
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