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Outta the Woods and Onto the Mills: Shifting Timber-Harvest Strategies on Minnesota's Early Lumbering Frontiers.

Douglas A. Birk
Senior Research Fellow
Institute for Minnesota Archaeology


This preliminary report explores the archaeological record of 19th-century pine lumbering frontiers in Minnesota. Certain harvesting activities were organized around transportation thresholds, and threshold distances increased over time with advances in technology and growing demand. Case studies from the Gull and Pine river watersheds in the Mississippi Headwaters Region show that early lumbering activities in Minnesota enjoyed high levels of technological and methodological standardization. Many innovations appeared in the two adjoining harvesting niches at about the same time and in a manner similar to contemporary lumbering frontier developments elsewhere in the Great Lakes Region. Thus a theoretical framework is developed to define the basic spatial-temporal aspects of early pine-harvesting frontiers and to predict the function and inter-relationship of various logging sites and features.

This article was originally published in The Michigan Archaeologist, vol. 43, nos. 2-3 (June-September, 1997).

This paper is available for downloading in the following formats:

HTML Version

Table of Contents

Frontiers and Resources
Temporal Considerations
Spatial Considerations
The Archaeology of Stumps and Logs
Case Studies
References Cited

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