Center for Columbia River History


The Pacific Northwest Logging Community, 1920 - 1998



Sources Oral History Transcripts Acknowledgements Project Methodology CCRH Homepage

Thanks goes to Matthew Carroll's book, Community and the Northwestern Logger:  Continuities and Changes in the Era of the Spotted Owl (1995); to Finley Hays' book Lies Logs and Loggers (1961); and to project narrator Diane Heersink for providing most of the term definitions listed below.

Terms below appear throughout the pages of this website and in many of the oral history interviews.  They are listed alphabetically.

  • bucked pants:  pants cut off at mid-calf so as not to catch in brush and trip the working logger.

  • bucker:  sometimes the faller, who limbs and bucks the trees just felled.

  • cat any tractor used for logging that is on tracks instead of wheels.  As Finley Hays said, the term "was stolen from the Caterpillar people."

  • chaser:  a logger who works on the landing, unhooking logs from the yarder cables. The landing is a relatively small area of ground immediately adjacent to a logging road, cleared and leveled to allow logging trucks to be loaded and turned around.

  • choker setter:  fastens chokers--devices constructed from five-to eight-foot lengths of 3/8ths diameter steel cable with a sliding bell attached--around logs so they can be moved by the yarder, cat, or skidder.  Usually the initial job that a logger will obtain on a logging crew.  Requires lots of running and balance.

  • cork boots (also known as caulk boots):  leather boots soled with nail points for maximized traction in the woods.  Standard equipment for the logger.  Diane Heersink had a pair made for her husband Brian relatively recently that cost $400.

  • cruiser:  goes into the woods and estimates how much timber is on a given piece of land.   

  • crummie:  the vehicles--usually trucks-- that transport logging workers from their homes to the logging site.

  • "draw": between pay days when a logger must take some money from the next paycheck.

  • fallers:  also known as "cutters."  The elites of logging, they cut down the trees that would then be processed by others.  The faller's work is very dangerous.  He often worked shorter hours, essentially worked alone, and often received more pay independent of an hourly wage.

  • gyppo:  independent logger. Often consider themselves always willing to do more work faster.

  • hickory shirts:  typical logger shirts; denim shirts with narrow white and navy stripes.  

  • high climber or high rigger:  the logger that limbs and tops the spar trees.

  • hoot owlin':  in the summer, loggers go to work very early in the morning, often between 2AM and 3AM, in order to get in and out of the woods early before the heat becomes too high, humidity too low, and fire danger too great.

  • nosebag:  lunch bucket. 

  • rigging slinger:  directs the yarder to go ahead and haul the cabled logs to the log landing.  Uses a "talkie tooter" to instruct the yarder operator to proceed or stop.  Bosses the choker setter and picks the turn of logs to be hauled to the landing.

  • "rocking chair":  going on unemployment compensation.

  • side:  complete crew of workers and the associated equipment necessary to move logs from the stump to the truck.

  • skidder rubber tired skidding tractors.

  • spotted owl "thing":  also referred to as the "spotted owl mess" and the "spotted owl issue."  One of the greatest controversies to rock the timber industry, the issue took root in the mid-1980s.  According to wildlife researchers, the Northern Spotted Owl appears to be largely dependent on old-growth forest habitat.  Environmental interests seized on these findings and fought to have the spotted owl listed by the federal government as an endangered species, thus ensuring protection of its environment.  Environmental advocates argued that once old growth forests were logged they were irreplaceable, and such logging would therefore ensure the extinction of the spotted owl.  The timber industry was forced to curtail cutting old growth in order to protect the spotted owl, which meant loss of timber jobs.  Timber industry advocates argued that stopping the long-planned harvest of old-growth timber would inflict serious damage on timber jobs and destroy timber communities.  (See Carroll, Community and the Northwestern Logger, 14-15, for more detail regarding this issue.

  • "talkie tooter":  a small radio transmitter used by the rigging' slinger to notify the yarder operator through various coded horn blasts to either proceed to move the cabled logs to the landing or to stop.

  • widow maker:  a branch that falls from a tree being worked on by a logger, and hits either the logger or someone working with him.  Most often deadly.

  • yarder:  piece of equipment that uses steel cables attached to a powerful engine to yank and pull cut logs--six to eight at a time--from the cutting site to the landing.


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