18 thoughts on “Log Raft, 1905

  1. Fascinating! I had always sorta thought the pilings that we see in the rivers were for docks or buildings like canneries. Now I see that some of them were used to corral logs.

  2. I never read of any particular breakup of a Benson raft, but in the 1940s and 50s there was a lot of huge log driftwood along the beaches of Tillamook County, and it could have come from one of those rafts To get to the beach we had to find a way to walk through the tangle of old logs.

  3. As a kid in the early forties, used to swim out to these rafts near the Ross Island bridge. Dumb thing to do but it was fun. These rafts were toed by tugs then, not men with gaffs.

  4. I recall seeing log rafts being towed on the Willamette and Columbia in the ’60’s-’70’s. Much smaller than these, but a sign of our timber past.

  5. George, we spent a lot of time at Arch Cape in the 1950s and all that “driftwood” was amazing and so much fun — for making forts, climbing up and jumping off, hide and seek. And of course lots of wood for nightly campfires. I particularly remember one intact root structure of a huge tree lying on its side in the sand, perfect for climbing. Wish I had photos.

  6. Is this on the Lewis and Clark river out of Fort Clatsop?

    On Thu, Oct 26, 2017 at 6:00 AM, Vintage Portland wrote:

    > Vintage Portland posted: “Men in the process of building a log raft, 1905. > View this image in Efiles by clicking here.” >

  7. Could be Leslie. If so, I stand corrected. I assumed it was the Willamette. In any case, though dumb, I still had fun swimming out to them.

  8. Sometime late 70s was last of the lografts. About ’73, We were fishing the Columbia almost every week. I remember seeing some rafts what had been anchored for months with weeds & saplings sprouting from stuff trapped in their bark. Strange, That was alot of money just soaking…

  9. There was or is somebody salvaging old growth logs from the bottom of the Columbia river. They would sink from rafts or what have you.

  10. All Vintage Portland photos have been from the Portland metro area. I think the Elk Rock guess is the best so far.

  11. The Picture is Clatskanie Oregon. That’s where most all of the giant cigar rafts were assembled . The flat rafts you would see in the portland area were nothing like these.. Those are flat rafts and are still in use on the Columbia River today. There were two just delivered to Kalama Washington and were towed there by tugboat from Bingen Washington.
    The Benson raft was a huge seagoing log raft designed to reliably transport millions of board feet of timber at one time through the open ocean. Held together with giant logging chains, their cargo of logs and often finished lumber goods went from the outlet of the Columbia River in the United States into the Pacific Ocean and south 1100 miles to San Diego, California. Once there the logs were sawn into lumber by the Benson Logging and Lumber Company for sale in Southern California John A. Festabend was Benson’s construction supervisor near Clatskanie, Oregon.
    Benson rafts began with a roughly cigar-shaped temporary “cradle” of wood resembling the frame of a large wooden sailing ship. A derrick placed logs in the cradle over a period of four to seven weeks, lacing them with tree-length timbers for added strength and stability. Large logging chains tied the raft together. When complete, one half of the cradle was removed and the raft was launched sideways into the water.
    Most were about 700 feet to 1,000 feet long, 55 feet wide, and 35 feet thick from top to bottom—usually drafting 26 feet to 29 feet deep and hauled between 4,000,000 board feet and 8,000,000 board feet of logs. Assembly took anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks and involved 175 to 250 tons of chain.
    The Benson log rafts were towed in the open sea along the Pacific Coast, dramatically lowering shipping costs from railroad or traditional ocean barge transportation. Held together by large logging chains, they were seagoing ocean-worthy logging rafts to transport intact millions of board feet over a long distance.
    The first was launched in July 1906 and last of 120 in 1941. About half were “deck loaded”, with processed lumber such as shingles, fence posts, and poles atop the logs, maximizing savings. Four of the 120 were lost due to fire or storms
    It is estimated that building in Southern California doubled in just four years following the arrival of cheaper lumber via Benson rafts in 1906.
    A proposal was floated in 1905 to use them to ship timber to China, but there is no evidence it ever occurred. In those days the distance was just simply to great for a tugboat, (needed to pull the raft), to carry enough fuel to make the trip.
    ~ wikipedia .

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