1989.69.24 | Log Jams Upper Saint John River
Log Jams Upper Saint John River
1911, 20th century
27.6 x 19.1 cm
Gift of Sylvia Yeoman
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
Keys to History
The dangerous job of dislodging a logjam was completely voluntary. It consisted of finding and cutting the key log that created the jam and then, with luck, being quickly pulled to safety. Volunteers were sometimes called "jam busters."
Source : All in a Day's Work: Lumbering in New Brunswick [Web tour], by New Brunswick Museum (see Links)
Foremen tried to avoid blasting so as not to splinter the logs; but when all else failed, dynamite did the job.
When a jam began to break, a jam buster had two choices: scramble to shore, or take his chances on a rough ride among the tumbling timbers.
It sometimes took several days to loosen a logjam but, when it broke, great cheers went up from the men.
The watery deaths of Anthony Barrett, Jimmy Phalen and Guy Reed, who were killed while battling logjams, were immortalized in poems and songs.