From the time when real lumberjacks harvested the virgin pine and the lumber barons ruled the Northwoods of Wisconsin, the Holt and Balcom logging camp, established in 1881, operated until the late 1920’s before succumbing to the times. It is believed to be the oldest logging camp in the U.S., and perhaps the world, still on its original site.
Most logging operations were done in the winter months, mainly for convenience in hauling logs out of the woods. In the winter it was possible to pour water on the trails and use sleds to carry enormous loads of logs when wheeled carts would have collapsed under the weight. Most of the lumberjacks were farmers who could work their farms for most of the summer and enter the camp in the late fall to spend the winter. Since the men worked 12 to 16 hours a day, six days a week, few ever went home or saw their families for the entire winter. Thus, the camp was home.
Loggers awoke to the cry of “Daylight in the swamp.” The chore boy had been up for a while already kindling fires and rousting cookie and the teamsters. The crews trudged to their work sites in near darkness and returned to camp after they could no longer see what they were doing. During late morning or early afternoon, the chore boy or cookie brought dinner to each of the crews, using a small box sled to haul the food. These “flaggins” were warmed up on an open fire and consumed quickly. After the labor reforms of the 1920’s, most camps run by the large lumber companies shifted to an eight or ten hour day and a five day work week.
Much research and care has gone into the restoration of this National Historic Landmark by the Oconto County Historical Society and the McCaslin Lions Club. They have restored the building to its original condition and perpetuated the museum for the public to see how the lumberjacks lived and worked. Badly needed restoration work commenced in 2008 and was recently completed.
It is open on Saturdays during the summer from 10:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for special tours. Permission to place this cache was granted by Robert Brown, camp manager, on 5/27/09. The cache is a medium-sized lock-n-lock container holding small trade items and trackables. Please be sure to leave the cache as well hidden or better than when you found it. And be aware of muggles during the golf season. Usually a very short wait will allow for retrieval.