09May

Town of Day History

History Articles written originally for the Sacandaga Express
Day is located between Edinburg and Conklingville on the north shore of the Great Sacandaga. When the town was officially established in 1819 it was named Concord but then changed to Day in honor of Eliphaz Day who was it’s first supervisor . He was a lumber dealer and a guiding force in the community. Day actually existed as two areas Day Center and West Day. West Day was originally called Huntsville after a tavern owner there. The first settlers came in 1797. Most people worked in lumber and general farming. Creeks that run through Day into the Sacandaga are Glasshouse, Paul, Allen, Dailey, and Sand..

Evidence of Native Americans were found frequently in Day. Spearheads clay pipes and stone pots to name a few . West Day had 20 houses, a store, a blacksmith, a schoolhouse, and two churches. A wooden ware shop was built there in 1859 but was turned into a clothespin factory and sawmill. By the end of 1925 most of the dwellings and mills had been destroyed in anticipation of the flood. Very few were moved.

Logging was the major industry in the valley since the river was large enough to accommodate huge trees. Timber harvested included pine, oak, rock maple, cherry, but none were more important than the hemlock. Hemlock trees provided ruffled grouse, wild turkey and songbirds food (seeds) and shelter in this tree. Deer browse it heavily when deep snow makes other food scarce. Hemlock were highly demanded due to the properties it’s bark held for tanning leather. Tanneries were established farther south of the river. Besides over harvesting of the hemlock due to the demand the species is currently under threat due to the hemlock “woolly adelgid” a bug that extracts the sap from the tree. This insect was accidentally introduced from East Asia to the United States in 1924.

Log driving is a means of log transport which makes use of a river’s current by letting the current move floating tree trunks downstream to sawmills. When the first sawmills were established, they usually were small and were established in the forest in temporary facilities, then moved to new areas as the timber was exhausted. Later, bigger mills were developed that were not portable, and these were usually established in the lower reaches of a river, with the logs brought to them by floating downriver by log drivers.

To ensure that logs drifted freely along the river, men were needed to guide the logs, called “log drivers”. This was an exceedingly dangerous occupation, with the drivers standing on the moving logs and running from one to another. When one caught on an obstacle and formed a logjam, someone had to free the offending log. This required some understanding of physics, strong muscles, and extreme agility. Many log drivers lost their limbs and their lives by falling and being crushed by the logs.
On small tributaries logs could only be driven during the spring flood, when thousands of logs, cut during the winter months, were sent downriver. Each timber firm had its own mark which was placed on the logs. Removing or altering a timber mark was a crime. At the mill the logs were captured by a log boom and the logs were sorted for ownership before being sawn.

Log driving became unnecessary with the advent of the railroad and good public roads for trucks.

– by Lorraine Frasier

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