Sawdust In Their Veins

| May/June 1961

Duncannon, Pa.

Sawmilling, once Perry County, Pennsylvania's prime industry, has shrunk in significance the past 25 years, but the whine of the big saw has not entirely passed out of existence.

The great hemlocks, pines and oaks have been decimated, but many smaller sawmills, mostly locally owned and operated, still raise huge piles of sawdust at the end of the waste chains each year. They supply railroad ties, paperwood, mine boards, steel mill braces, and last but not least, the countless cords of slabwood that feed the maws of the farmers' kitchen ranges and heating stoves.

These localized operations are mostly installations that can be moved to a more fertile area in a matter of days. Methods are more modernized, keeping up the trend of speed and efficiency commonplace these days.

Small, powerful diesel engines have largely replaced the cumbersome, chugging steam engines with the enormous flywheels, to drive the dollies and turn the circular saws.

Small gasoline driven chain saws now cut the amount of timber from the forest in a half day that once reauired four experienced tree fellers, with hand cross-cut blades, most of a week.