Camp Food in a Logging Camp

Hank Simonson’s father was a faller all his life. Hank and his family lived in the woods at Irmulco and at GlenBlair and had first hand experience of logging camp food which he said was very good. It had to be, he told me, or, “the workers would not stay.”

In 2012 it is quite difficult to get specifics of how the workers in the woods were fed. Hank recalled that the cooks were mainly Finnish (as was Hank) with many of the assistants being Chinese. The Chinese loved kids and Hank had very fond memories of being filled to the brim with peach pie and cream by the Chinese camp cooks and being scolded by his mother for not eating his “proper” food. Hank’s memory seemed to cloud up once he got to the “peach pie” bit!

But, patience is everything and I finally got some information and a couple of photos.
The photo below shows a typical camp kitchen car that included a wood fired stove with a large oven for baking. Fresh baked pies are visible in the lower right hand corner, and beyond the pastry work surface is a large bread dough pan. The female in the picture was most likely the wife of one of the loggers in camp. Water was heated on the stove for washing the dirty dishes, pots and pans. Workers in this kitchen prepared breakfast, sack lunches, and the evening meal.

Inside of the kitchen car

Inside of the kitchen car

Logging camps had an outstanding reputation for serving wonderful meals from which no man ever left hungry. Lunch consisted of three full sandwiches, two of which contained meat and the other perhaps butter and jam. Included with the lunch was a piece of cake or fruit for dessert. These lunches were prepared before breakfast and ready for the men to take with them when they left the dining car.

Breakfast and supper was typical of what one can get to eat in old style diners. Ham, eggs and toast for breakfast. On Sunday, breakfast would be later than normal to let the men sleep in on their day off. This meal was more like a “brunch” as we know it today.
Meat, (particularly stews), potatoes and a vegetable with biscuits were supper and there was lots of it. The woodsmen worked 12 hour days and would burn 6,000 calories in a day in the field.

The picture below shows a typical mess car. The workers ate family style. In the aisle stands the server who brought the bowls of food to the tables. If more was needed, he or she brought additional bowls. Lots of coffee was a necessity. All of the men needed to eat at the same time and as quickly as possible, so things could get a little hectic in the dining car.

Inside of a mess car

Inside of a mess car

2 thoughts on “Camp Food in a Logging Camp

  1. Pingback: Camp Food in a Logging Camp | Model Railway Ramblings

  2. Oooooo…..*nice* one, Tony! I’d always wondered about this topic. The photos are great, too. Yummmmm…….

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