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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)


Air Date: Week of

This week, we have facts about the 44th World Lumberjack Championships. More than 200 contestants converge on Hayward, Wisconsin to claim the coveted logrolling honors.


KNOY: Welcome back to Living on Earth. I’m Laura Knoy.


[MUSIC: Jorma Kaukonen “Just Because” Blue Country Heart Sony (2002)]

KNOY: Yo-hooooo! Pole out! Check it down! Time in! That’s a quickwhistle. These are just some of the pithy phrases you might hear called out at the logrolling contest during the 44th annual World Lumberjack Championships to be held this coming week in Hayward, Wisconsin. More than 200 competitors, both amateur and professional, travel from places like New Zealand, Australia and Canada to compete against some of the best lumberjacks in the States.

The competition commemorates the long history of logging in the northwest and features ax-throwing, pole-climbing, boom running and logrolling. Boom running and logrolling are sports that developed from the often dangerous practice of guiding cut timber from the woods down river to the sawmills. This practice, called “river driving,” gave lumberjacks nothing but spiked shoes called caulks, and a long, metal rod called a pike pole to keep their balance and steer the logs through the treacherous waters.

Though river drivers and lumberjacks are male-dominated professions, the women’s lumberjack (or lumberjill) competition has drawn some of the biggest crowds at the World Championships. Here, women compete in single-buck sawing, the underhand block chop—and occasionally, one or two will climb the ninety-foot poles shipped in from west coast forests.

So strap on your caulks, grab your pike pole, and head out to Hayward to watch these burly men and women compete for the $50,000 grand prize and title of world-champion lumberjack.

And for this week, that’s the Living on Earth Almanac.



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