Gyppo Memories


I ran across this old portable mill at Tolsona, Alaska. When I was a kid in Oregon, gyppo mills like this one operated close to busy logging operations. Underneath a rusty tin roof, an experienced sawyer worked 12-hour days slicing logs into dimensional green lumber with the screaming saw blade. Other men in leather gloves sorted and stacked the sappy, wet lumber according to sizes, while steel, cone-shaped “wigwam burners” (incinerators) disposed of accumulating sawdust. A sweet-acrid aroma filled a valley where gyppos ran day and night. Hard-case foremen drove workers hard, and teenaged boys toughened up, or found jobs in town as bag boys at Albertsons grocery store.


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