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Reproduced from the Centennial Edition of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch (1871-1971).
Reproduced exactly as published in 1971 - no updates, no corrections.


photo: lumber

  THROUGH DAM--Logs splashed through the dam en route to mills at Little Falls. They were first sorted at Brainerd and again at Little Falls. In the days of the logging era, there was a continuous spray as the logs went through this old dam.

Lumbermen Attacked Heavy Forests in Brainerd Area


Sixty to 90 years ago, in the days of lumbering, the lakes in the Gull Lake area were surrounded by dense forests of Norway and white pine.

Logs were cut in the area northwest of Gull Lake, around Lake Margaret, and around the Cullens, north and east of Gull. One of the busiest spots was the village of Gull River, at the south end of Gull Lake, between Squaw Point and Pikes Bay, for several years the site of the Gull River Lumber Co. mill.

Timber was cut from the slopes around Cullen, for example, and floated down the small creek connecting Cullen and Nisswa lakes. There they were made into booms and towed by steamboat through the chain of lakes and into the entrance of Gull Lake at an area known as "Booming-Out Bay."

Taking advantage of the north wind, and with the aid of the steamboat, the logs were guided to the mouth of the Gull River. Here a dam held a good head of water. The logs were separated and after the dam was destroyed in a torrent of flood water, the logs were floated individually down the Gull River to the Crow Wing and on to the Mill at Brainerd.

photo: lumber

  BRAINERD LUMBER--The Brainerd Lumber company logs were fed out of the river into Rice Lake and to the Brainerd Lumber company. It was located on the west side of Rice Lake where the lake curves into the river. The office of the company (the white house-like building) was moved into Brainerd and is now Van's Cafe. The railroad tracks here are those of the old Minnesota and International Railroad.

When the Brainerd and Northern Minnesota railway line was completed and the dam at Brainerd built in 1893, the rice-bed along the river was turned into Rice Lake. At that time, the Gull River Lumber Co. moved its entire plant to Brainerd. Eventually it developed into a major lumber business and the name changed to the Brainerd Lumber Co.

The company employed 400 to 500 men at the mill in the sawing season and 600 men in the woods in the winter. It had a capacity of 50 to 55 million feet per year and a daily average output of 12 to 15 modern carloads of lumber.

Cutting pine logs, transporting and finishing them at the mill was a short-lived business. From the 1870's and on it grew and flourished. But by 1906, the last of the Brainerd mill had been dismantled and moved to Canada.

The office building stood near the south boundary of the county fairgrounds. In 1908, it was moved to the spot where a basement had been excavated for a second Villard Hotel that was never constructed. This is the location where Van's Cafe is now.

photo: lumber

  RIVER WANNIGAN--Shown here are a wannigan, loggers and their haul just north of Camp Ripley in 1903. The group is from the Pine Tree Lumber Co., Little Falls. The lumber was floated down the Mississippi from the Brainerd dam. It was sorted in Brainerd, then sent on down to be sorted again at Little Falls. The derrick shown here was used to help in breaking up log jams. To free the logs, a key log was found, loosened with the help of the derrick and the entire jam was broken. Meals for the loggers were cooked and sometimes served on board wannigans like this one.

photo: lumber

  LOGGING CAMP--Shown here is a typical scene showing loggers and logging camp in about 1895. The lumbermen added color to early Brainerd during the logging era.

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