THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
UNDER CONSTRUCTION"Work is underway at Riverfront Park to display some of the history of the Peshtigo River. When the river was drawn down several years ago, rock formations were discovered. They were used during the logging days in Peshtigo. It is hoped that the display will remind people what the rocks and cribs were used for by lumberjacks. Pictured from left are John Valitchka, Dave Zahn, Mayor Cathi Malke and Keith Anderson as they line up one of the logs removed from the river.
Granite Plaques Mounted on Logs Taken From River
Issue Date: October 4, 2017
As the river was drawn down to replace the bridge in Peshtigo in 2010 and 2012, massive stone piles appeared at the base of the Peshtigo River. The placement of stone piles were staggered, as lumberjacks stood on them to keep the logs moving down the river.
For the safety of anyone who used the river to avoid hitting the stone cribs, Eric and Cindy Anderson spearheaded the removal of the stone cribs so future generations would know what they looked like. A replication of one was to be built at the Riverfront Park. The Andersons worked with Cathi Malke who was the Peshtigo Park and Recreation Chair.
With safety a concern for children climbing on the stone crib, Keith Anderson, son of Eric and Cindy, came up with the idea of putting granite informational plaques, mounted in the logs taken out of the river during the draw down. Fitting as these logs helped form the stone cribs. The plaques tell the history of the stone cribs and the logs were the original pieces from the stone cribs.
Malke worked with one of the English teachers from Peshtigo High School on an inscription on the plaques. Keith Anderson, owner of Iconic Etching, had the logs ready two years ago to be placed in the Park. Currently there are three logs that have the granite inserts, but the plan is to have a total of five for the project hoped to be completed by the end of October.
Malke who is now Peshtigo mayor, thanks the Andersons for their generosity in making the project become reality to preserve more of Peshtigo's history for future generations.
The plaques going on the logs state: "The Peshtigo River passed through rich timberlands, and the Peshtigo Lumber Company's saw mill was an important part of the city for many years. Under the ownership of William Ogden, the company created the Peshtigo Harbor as a company town extending its lumbering operations to the mouth of the river and beyond by barge to the cities of the south. The Peshtigo River was ideal for log driving because of high spring flows and the fact that the river stretched from the Port of Green Bay deep into the forests.
Each timber firm had it's own mark which was placed on the logs. This mark showed ownership and was called an "end mark." Altering a timber mark was a crime. At the mill, logs were captured by a log boom, and the logs were sorted for ownership before being sawed.
To ensure that logs drifted freely along the river, men called "log driver" or "river pigs" were needed to guide the logs. The job required strong muscles and agility. Local legend says that the loggers would pile rocks up in the narrowings to dam the river. Throughout the Peshtigo River, rock piles were used in the "Lumber River."
A Wannigan was a kitchen built on a raft which followed the drivers down the river. It served four meals per day to the men working in cold water. It also provided tents and blankets for the night if there were no better accommodations available at the time.