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Photo of Banner load, Blackduck, Minnesota 1909.
A load of lumber being transported by horses in early 20th century Minnesota

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Logging in Minnesota
Think about how much wood you could fit into a train's freight car. Imagine how many wood logs you would need to fill up 240,000 cars. That's a lot of cars, but that's just how many were filled in Minnesota in 1905.

Historically, logging has been an important part of Minnesota's economy. Clearing the massive conifer forests of Minnesota continued into the first decades of the 20th century, when production peaked in 1905. In fact, so much lumber was sawed in the state that year that it would have filled about 240,000 freight cars! During the boom period of 1890 to 1910, lumber companies harvested lumber valued at $1 billion in Minnesota.

Each winter season, logging crews set up camps in the forest areas. The crews were made up of relatively poor and unskilled workers. Many of them were recent immigrants from northern Europe who were barely making a living. Workers received low wages and toiled long hours under dangerous conditions.

Technological advances changed and industrialized logging. Horses were replaced with small tractors, and loggers began to use gasoline-powered chain saws. Lumber was sent to paper mills that were built along the Mississippi, Rainy, and St. Louis rivers. By the 1970s, the industrialization of an agricultural industry was complete.

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