Vocabulary for The Brief History of Lumbering in Michigan

American Red Cross:
started by Clara Barton of Dansville, New York, only weeks before the terrible Michigan fires of October 1881. The Red Cross sent 8 boxes of clothing and a small amount of money to help the people of Michigan who had lost their homes in the fires.

board foot:
a measurement for lumber that equals a board one inch thick and twelve inches square.

Civil War:
sometimes called the War Between the States. It began on April 12, 1861 and lasted until May 26, 1865. It was a war fought between the United States of America (the Union) and the Confederate States of America (the Confederacy). The war took more than 600,000 lives and destroyed property valued at more than $5 billion.

clear- cut:
to cut down every tree in a forest no matter what size or kind.

evergreen trees and shrubs that grow cones. Also known as softwoods.

trees with broad leaves that are shed once a year. Also known as hardwoods.

a straight line passing through the center of a circle or any round object.

a person who starts new businesses with his own money.

fires of 1871:
on October 8, the famous Chicago fire broke out which destroyed most of the city. Across the lake, Michigan experienced its most widespread forest fires. Many towns were destroyed. Both Michigan towns and the city of Chicago needed lumber to rebuild.

fires of 1881:
There had been no rain in Michigan for 2 months prior to the destructive fires that devastated the Thumb area. Many believe they were the results of brush fires, started by farmers to clear their fields, being whipped out of control by unusually high winds. Approximately 200 people died in these fires.

local stories, sayings, songs and dances told from one generation to the next.

Homestead Act of 1862:
allowed anyone who was either 21 years old, the head of a family, had served 14 days in the U.S. armed forces, and who was a citizen or filed an intent to become a citizen, to pay a small filing fee to acquire 160 acres of government land for free. These settlers were required to residing on the land for five years. More than 3 million acres of land in northern Michigan were homesteaded under this law.

land boom:
a sudden increase in the sale of land.

logging crews:
men who worked together to cut down the trees and get them to the mills. Each man had his own special job and working together, they got the job done much faster.

lumber baron:
one who became a millionaire through lumbering. They were often very fond of showing off their wealth.

the business of cutting down trees, trimming and cutting them into logs, transporting the logs to mills and milling them into lumber.

narrow gauge railroads:
a smaller system of railroads used to haul flatcars of logs from the woods to the banks of the rivers.

waterways that can be traveled on by boat.

sawdust cities:
cities that started just to supply the needs of the men and women who worked in lumbering. Many became ghost towns once the timber was cut and the lumbermen moved on.

selective cutting:
cutting down certain kinds of trees or certain sizes of trees, leaving the rest standing.

people who came to new lands and made permanent homes and towns.

men and women who bought timberland at great risk in the hope of making a larger than normal profit later.

Michigan EPIC
549 Ottawa NW
Grand Rapids, MI

PH 616.224.1480
FX 616.224.1501

Home | About MIEPIC | Educator Forum |