Wooden Shoes with Spikes
Check out the spikes on these wooden boots! Many immigrants worked during the winter cutting logs and moving them by horse team to a river. As the ice melted in the spring, the logs would move down the river to the sawmill for processing.
Huge piles of logs (log jams) resulted, so lumberjacks, wearing these boots and using long pike poles, would ride on the log jam and try to dislodge the logs from the pile. This was very dangerous work.
The St. Croix Boom Site is a historic and scenic wayside on the St. Croix River in Stillwater Township – about 17 miles south of Scandia. It marks the location of a critical log boom where, from 1856 to 1914, timber from upriver was sorted and stored before being dispatched to sawmills downstream.
The St. Croix Log Boom used a series of booms (logs chained end-to-end across the river) to catch timber as it floated downstream. Workers called “boom rats” would wear spiked wooden shoes like the ones in Gammelgarden’s collection.
The workers moved among the booms on catwalks, noting the timber marks stamped on the incoming logs and sorting them into holding pens.
When they had gathered enough of one brand, the boom workers formed them into a timber raft, which a “fitting-up crew” would steer downstream to the correct mill. Some of the mills receiving the timber were as far south as St. Louis.