Wood Hicks and Bark Peelers

A Visual History of Pennsylvanias Railroad Lumbering Communities; The Photographic Legacy of William T. Clarke

By (author) Ronald E. Ostman, Harry Littell Introduction by Linda A. Ries

Hardback - £31.95

Publication date:

07 September 2016

Length of book:

252 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271072074

In Wood Hicks and Bark Peelers, Ronald E. Ostman and Harry Littell draw on the stunning documentary photography of William T. Clarke to tell the story of Pennsylvania’s lumber heyday, a time when loggers serving the needs of a rapidly growing and globalizing country forever altered the dense forests of the state’s northern tier.

Discovered in a shed in upstate New York and a barn in Pennsylvania after decades of obscurity, Clarke’s photographs offer an unprecedented view of the logging, lumbering, and wood industries during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They show the great forests in the process of coming down and the trains that hauled away the felled trees and trimmed logs. And they show the workers—cruisers, jobbers, skidders, teamsters, carpenters, swampers, wood hicks, and bark peelers—their camps and workplaces, their families, their communities. The work was demanding and dangerous; the work sites and housing were unsanitary and unsavory. The changes the newly industrialized logging business wrought were immensely important to the nation’s growth at the same time that they were fantastically—and tragically—transformative of the landscape.

An extraordinary look at a little-known photographer’s work and the people and industry he documented, this book reveals, in sharp detail, the history of the third phase of lumber in America.

“A detailed look at a bygone world.”

—David Gonzalez, The New York Times Lens blog