Logging in the Snake River watershed began in the mid 1800s. The following pictures are from that era. All revolve around Alexander “Sandy” McDougal, legendary logger who spent 60 consecutive winters in the forests of the St. Croix River basin. Between 1899 and 1919 McDougal was walking boss for James E. McGrath on Chesley Brook and the Snake River in northern Kanabec County.
The following photos include Sandy McDougal in turn-of-the century logging in the McGrath area, near the headwaters of the Snake River. The following picture was taken at the logging camp with McDougal standing in the left foreground. . The man in the center of the picture with hand on left hip was named Nordstrom. He was the father of Mrs. Frank Spreeman who later lived at Afton, MN.
The “biggest load of logs” pictures are common in the old lumbering photos. Here Sandy McDougal rides on top of the load. Horses dragged these loads on iced tracks.
Here are four loads of logs riding the iced trails toward the Snake River for spring floating down the Snake and St. Croix Rivers to the “boomsite” on the north side of Stillwater where logs were sorted and sawed at local saw mills in Stillwater. Some of these old logs can still be found in the bottom of the River, especially in low water levels.