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New York Folklore Quarterly, Vol. XIII, No. 1, Spring 1957

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Vol. XIII, No. 1, Spring 1957

Marion Williams

THROUGH the years, New York State has boasted of many active lumbering areas. One of the most boisterous and colorful of these was the Tug Hill plateau. It covered some seven thousand acres in Lewis, Jefferson and Oswego counties and was bounded by the towns of Peky, Turin, Martinsburgh, and West Lowville. For many years tracks of the Glenville and Western Railroad ran up through the plateau to serve the various logging camps. One of the best known of these was Page, which is mentioned in the following stories. When trucks became able to travel the roads on the plateau, the rails were taken up, but the ties remained. Hunters in that section used to drive their cars up onto the plateau by means of the ties. Now the ties are gone and a road serves the few visitors to the area.

Nowadays Tug Hill is almost deserted. Most of the logging camps and the lumberjacks are gone. A few old timers remain. From them I got the stories and recollections of the time when Tug Hill meant lumber.


It is a cold, moonlit night on Tug Hill. The forest looms dark and still. The only human habitation for miles around is the logging camp.

Inside the bunkhouse the round-bellied stove glows red. Seated around it, the lumberjacks are whiling away the time by telling stories. Each man fancies himself a master story-teller, but they all must bow to Old Lard. The lesser spellbinders have exhausted themselves, and now it is time for Old Lard to begin. “There was never a book big enough to write down all the pranks and jokes that have happened on the old hill. Now take the one that Fred Cook and Tom Mahaney pulled. They were both good lumberjacks. Tom was the best saw filer that I ever saw. They were both bachelors and they lived in a house on the north Osceola road. It was during Prohibition and everybody was making something to drink. Some sold it. As long as I can remember, if you got a chance to steal it, it was all right in this country. If you went to a party, there was always something to drink. One guy would watch to see where another would hide the jug, go take a drink, and hide it some place else....

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