American Elephants

“I’ve Listened to Your Stories, Now I Have to Listen to the Animals.” by The Elephant's Child

Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing For Sally Jewell For Interior Sec'y

King Cove, Alaska is a remote town in the Aleutians of around a thousand people. It’s a fishing village that has a tiny airport which is often locked in by gale-force winds and fog. The town has a clinic, but no doctor and no hospital. For trauma cases, childbirth and complications of all sorts, they must get to the all-weather World War II airport in Cold Bay, 22 miles away, for transportation for the 600 miles to Anchorage, doctors and hospitals.

King Cove requested of the Interior Department a 22 mile-long, one-lane gravel road to Cold Bay which would allow for all-weather access to lifesaving medical care. Etta Kuzakin, a 36-year-old King Cove resident who serves as Agdaagux tribal president, needed an emergency Caesarean section in March after going into early labor with her now 9-month-old daughter. Giving birth in King Cove could have killed her and her baby. Medevac flights into King Cove were grounded by ugly weather. Ms. Kuzakin waited in labor for ten hours until a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flew her out in the afternoon.

“If there had been a road, it would be two hours out,” she said. “I sat there in labor not knowing if I was going to die or my kid was going to die. Pretty traumatic.” Fishing is also hard work, and injuries are common. According to local Aleutian elders, 19 people have died since 1980 because bad weather during emergency evacuations prevented them from getting out.

Sally Jewell, U.S. Interior Secretary, met with Aleutian citizens in the gymnasium in King Cove, to hear their request for a simple one-lane gravel lifeline to a dependable airport. Ms. Jewell, former head of REI, told her King Cove audience thatI’ve listened to your stories, now I have to listen to the animals. She rejected the road, saying that it would jeopardize waterfowl in the refuge.”

The assorted kinds of waterfowl with which I am familiar are a moveable species. If a truck is coming down a road, they are capable of moving off or across a one-lane road. These are not flightless species. Bears can manage to cross roads as well as other species to be found in the Aleutians. What could this woman who calls herself an “environmentalist” have possibly been thinking?”  A waterfowl’s potential annoyance at having to move from a road trumps human life every time? Well, that’s environmentalism for you every time. Self-righteous in their passion for wildlife; callous and cruel to humanity. Obama can really pick them. Disgusting.


Extinct Occupations: The Clearwater River Log Drives by The Elephant's Child

Northern Idaho had a splendid stand of white pine. Logging on the upper Clearwater river began in North Central Idaho in 1928 and continued until 1971. That last great Log Drive, was an historic ninety-mile river trek from the upper reaches of the North Fork of the Clearwater down to the Potlatch mill, the world’s largest white pine sawmill,  at the confluence of the Clearwater and the Snake River at Lewiston, Idaho.

The 1971 Log Drive was described as the last major white-water sawlog river drive in  the United States. In 1971, the completion of the Dworshak Dam meant the end of log drives and inundated the stretch of the North Fork of the Clearwater. Most drives started about May 10th and lasted about 21 days. In the spring, loggers prepared for the snow melt and rising waters. The Wanigan was assembled— a floating cookhouse with two bunkhouses that would follow the drive down the river. Food, tools, safety equipment and work-boats were prepared. It was a cold, harsh and dangerous environment for the river men. Their job was to recover any logs hung up on the banks, sand bars or islands and send them on their way again.

In the early years of the drive, flumes were built from the woods to the bank of the river. Tree lengths were skidded down to the river then bucked by sawyers into saw logs about 16½ feet long. Peavey crews accompanied the logs, keeping them moving, breaking up jams and sometimes having to dynamite jams to get them moving again.

clearwater log driveThis picture gives you an impression of the mass, and the potential for jams. The men  wore heavy caulked boots with thick leather soles and steel caulks for traction on the logs.A slip could not only send you into icy water, but the logs were dangerous. Work boats were originally bateaux with oars, then outboards and  they eventually developed jet boats with powerful engines that could help to pull logs out of jams.

After a day of cold, hard dangerous work, three hot meals a day were important and the number one priority on the drive was a good cook. The company furnished the best cook and the best food they could get. Hearty meals meant a lot, and the work developed good appetites.


Here a wanigan hits a patch of white water — this wanigan will have a bunkhouse on each end, with double steel framed bunks, with warm wool blankets and an Arctic heater that burned presto logs for warmth at night, and in the middle the cookhouse with a smaller stove than most kitchens, and a cook who also had to pilot the raft.

log drive

Here’s a good shot of the peavey men at work. They still make peaveys, and there are still lumber mills and lumber mills have mill ponds, but the big log drives are gone forever.

Here is a longer photo-essay with more pictures, if you are interested in the days when real men did hard things, in God’s country.

The War on Poverty by The Elephant's Child

President Obama, speaking yesterday in Connecticut said:

Nobody who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty.

Nice warm sentiment. Who could disagree? But this is the triumph of nice words, as is customary from this president, over reality.

A person who works full time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, earns more than the official poverty line. We can’t win “the war on poverty” until we start talking about it truthfully. See here. It’s a game played to get votes, not to actually improve anyone’s life.

Improving lives is not a game, and is done with a growing, thriving  economy that provides jobs for those who want to work, and take pride in the work they do.

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