Chapter Twenty-Six: Cut-Out And Get-Out

Sally and Dixie the Cat on the Dummer Hill Road - Spring 1991

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Monday 20 June 1994 - Overnight low 50F. Morning blue skies with only wispy cirrus, calm. We heard loud noises on the logging road about 0830, so Sally walked out to check. It was Donald Bacon bringing equipment in to repair and haul out the little dozer we saw yesterday. It got stuck and blew its engine. Donald said that a lumber company has bought all the land between Springer's and the Gun Club, and plan to cut and use the logging road to haul since they can't go out past Sarah and Bucky.

Friday 1 July 1994 - Overnight low 63F; mostly cloudy, just patches of blue; calm. Yesterday's three storms totaled 0.57" precipitation. They had tornados, funnel clouds, flooding, etc., near Caribou, Maine, today. Our weather stayed calm and just partly cloudy, with just a brief morning shower (0.02"). It was completely clear by 2000, except for a big bank of clouds far to the north. High temperature 77F.

Joe Cardoza came in for a visit. He has been at the Gun Club a couple weeks. His story about the logging on the Hill is that a man from Colebrook has purchased about 500 acres between Cordwells and Neil Coates Field, but with fingers coming almost to us along the old road. The logging is supposed to start any day, and they'll be hauling down Dummer Hill, not out the logging road. The man in question has a clear-cut and get-out reputation. The Gun Club folks are worried about their spring, which is very close to the roadway.

Sunday 3 July 1994 - Overnight low 54F. Last night's storm left 0.51" rain in the gauge. Morning dawned clear, except for a few wispy cirrus. Lovely day - blue skies, cool breeze most of the day, tolerable level of bugs. High temperature 78F.

We walked up the Hill to Faulkenhams, and visited for an hour or so. Reggie, Dennis, Bruce, and Dennis' daughter Becky were all there. We traded war stories. Their reading concerning the upcoming logging is that it will include 500+ acres, land bought by B&B Trucking of Colebrook. They plan to operate off both sides of the Hill, with one base probably on or near our Pad. They will clear-cut, and plan to use everything - saw-logs, pulp, firewood. They might log this year, but maybe not until 1995. Supposed to be a very big operation.

* * *

In the trip summary I prepared after our 1989 time at Camp, I wrote: This seems to be a year of change on the Hill: Calista's car broken into; controversy over people tearing up the roads before the frost is adequately out; Danny selling property, and threatening to build cabins without town authority; and Bernard declaring that he intends to make all the money he can off his property - all give a different "feel" to the area. I hope I'm wrong, and that change doesn't come too fast! I know it has to come, but...."

As it turned out, not much changed in the next couple years. The car break-in was a one-time thing. People continued to challenge the roads during "mud season," tearing them up trying to be the first to navigate their seemingly bottomless, pancake batter consistency in the early spring. Danny eventually sold his Dummer Hill land, but no cabins were ever built. Bernard seems to have disappeared from the local landscape. Even if all my worst fears had been realized, the years following 1994 would show that, in 1989, we had no idea what CHANGE would entail!

In late June 1994, we began to hear about potentially big changes coming to the Hill. The "rumor mill" was pretty consistent in its news that a big chunk of land had been sold, and that logging was going to occur. After that, things got pretty "iffy." We heard three or four different names for who the buyers were, and who was going to log. We heard that logging was going to begin "immediately," and that it would occur sometime in the future. Access was going to be on the old Dummer Hill Road, past Bucky and Sarah Cordwell's home and the Easton Rod and Gun Club, or perhaps they were going to haul on The Logging Road ("The Abomination:" Chapter 14). Maybe they would do both. When we left the Hill for Oregon in October 1994, nothing seemed to be happening.

* * *

Thursday 4 May 1995 - Overnight low 39F, high 71F. Mostly fair, scattered clouds, light breezes. We spent most of the day off the Hill, shopping in Berlin and Gorham, and visiting Mullinses, Vinyards, Mertie Coats, and leaving a note for Wymans.

Mertie told us that the Dummer Hill logging was going forward, and they are currently widening the road past Cordwell's. She didn't know any other details, nor did Walter. We'll have to ask the Faulkenhams."

In 1995, we arrived back at Camp on 30 April. We came by way of the Logging Road, and didn't see any signs of recent logging activity. We didn't leave the Hill until 4 May, again via the Logging Road, so didn't know anything about the condition of the Dummer Hill Road until we talked to Mertie. When, two days later, some 4-wheelers came into Camp and told us that "the Dummer Hill Road was pretty torn up by the logging operation," we decided we'd better see for ourselves.

Thursday 11 May 1995 - Overnight low 49F, high 59F. Overcast all day, some light wind in the morning. Predicted drizzle started about 1630.From about 1030 to 1330 we walked the Dummer Hill road to the Gun Club to leave a note for Joe Cardoza, and to see what was happening with the logging. It was both farther along and worse than expected. The road is being widened, in some places to triple its former width, all the way toward us (at least) to Neil Coates' field. So far, they have cut trees along both sides of the road and bladed/dozed it, with few ways for the water to drain off. Presumably that will be rectified, but for now it is a muddy strip of ravaged land from hill top to Gun Club. Pink flags on the power line right-of-way make it look like they will be building new roads to, or almost to, the Logging Road.

The Dummer Hill Road - May 1995

Probably the saddest part of it all right now is that the Gun Club "yard" will be essentially all road. There are markers around their spring, so they presumably won't get filled in, but it clearly is already affected. It will not be a happy place to live while the logging is going on, and is changed forever as a place to go and be.

There were two beautiful ornamental lilies just above the Gun Club that we had seen in bloom last summer, undoubted relics from one of the long-gone homes that used to be here. One is now lost under a pile of logs, but we dug up the other and brought it to Camp and replanted it. If the lily rescue is successful, we'll have preserved a little bit of history, anyway.

Friday 12 May 1995 - Overnight low 43F, high 63F. It rained lightly overnight, none after daybreak - 0.18". It was cloudy all day, but not threatening - even a few brief patches of blue. Started misting again about 1800, but didn't last.

We spent most of the day off the Hill - going to the bank, visiting with Becky, and getting a whole lot of plants out of her yard (lilac, hollyhocks, violets, etc. - we had brought in some obedience a few days ago). When we got home, I started digging a new garden strip along our new (last year) stone wall.

We met Dennis, Bruce and Reggie Faulkenham driving in the Logging Road as we were driving out. Dennis and his daughter had walked up from the schoolhouse, so they knew they would need to drive in our way. They say that the man doing the Dummer Hill clear-cut is the one who has just done the massive clear-cut near Twin Mountain. (We saw it the other day - it is as clear as a clear-cut can get!)

Saturday 27 May 1995 - Showers overnight, each brief, added to yesterday afternoon’s shower totaled 0.28”. Low temp 44F. It was a 50-50 day - a few minutes bright, a few minutes dark - many drizzles, but nothing measurable. High temp 69F.

The loggers have been working at the powerline, clearing trees off the strip on both sides of the line right-of-way. There isn’t any other new work coming or going, so it still isn’t clear what they intend to do. They have just yarded up the trees in two piles so far, which makes one think they are going to be chipping there.

Saturday 3 June 1995 - Low overnight 63F, ppt. 0.05”. Day was cloudy-bright, no real rain until 1400, then two thundershowers between then and 1700 - no electrical activity very near us (all seemed to be south of us), but the second shower dumped about 3/4 of an inch in a half hour. High temp 74F.

We planted the things I brought from Becky’s, and I mowed quite a bit more of the lawn part of the field before the rain started. 1800-1930 we walked up to Neil Coates’ Field. (Sally went almost down to the Gun Club) to see how the logging was going. They have extended the cut mainly as a widening of the road down to Faulkenham’s fork, and in the other direction to the property line before Neil’s Field. It is extremely muddy, and sad. I couldn’t go down the hill with Sally because it was making me feel too bad. I don’t think I’ll go up there again until it is over. I can live with it once it’s done, but I don’t really want to see any more of it happen.

The Dummer Hill Road - June 1995

Now, I should say here that I'm not anti-logging, and a big cut in northern New Hampshire is not an unusual occurrence. It's logging country, and trees get cut down regularly. This one was significant for us, personally, because it was the first major cutting done near our land since the 1940s. It wasn't our trees that were cut, but it was our milieu - the forests where we walked, followed the vegetation through the seasons, and watched the wildlife. They were the woods that served as the buffer between us and the outside world. The cutting was inevitable, but it was still a shock.

Danny, our uphill neighbor, had done a little cutting on his land a year or two earlier. It was messy at the time, but when it was over, it was over. This new assault was different. These loggers pushed a gigantic roadway across the land, obliterating old landmarks on the way, leaving a scar that would last for many years longer than we'd be around, and making it very clear that the road's sole purpose was to gain one-time access to cut everything, and to get quickly out again. When I first saw what they were doing, my reaction was visceral. As I wrote in my journal that day, I don’t think I’ll go up there again until it is over.

Through early June 1995, the logging operation was mostly out of sight and sound of us. In late June, they finally got over to "our" side of the Hill, cutting a wide swath of trees from both sides of the old road that used to end at our Camp, but now connected with the Logging Road. At that point, they had only reached the creek crossing at the foot of the grade down from the Dummer Hill Road.

Wednesday 5 July 1995 - Overnight low 54F. Humid but clear morning, clouds and humidity building through the day, but couldn’t generate enough energy for a thunderstorm. With a high of 89F, it was a fairly unpleasant day.Because the logging road builders were clearly headed our way, we went out first thing and erected a small "barrier" on the west side of our entry road - two pieces of surveyor's tape strung between a tree and a post, and a note that said "this is our only access - please do not block". They didn't get any farther than the hill above the creek crossing, but they did see our note some time during the day, and at 1530 we went up and talked to the dozer operator, who happened to be one of the partners. From him, we learned that they will only be reconstructing the road as far as our pad, at least for now, because they don't have permission from Boise-Cascade to use the Logging Road. He says they are "negotiating", but that Boise wants lots of money and the road would need a lot of fixing up for them to use it. They may use our pad for yarding and/or chipping. They are gravelling the road and intending to make it last awhile. His story is that they do intend to keep the land after it is logged, that he and his partner both own various chunks of land. (They are the original buyers from Weims, so they are apparently the ones that we heard all the bad stories about. We'll see. He and the employee that Sally had met before both talk a good talk, anyway, and seem very forthcoming.

Thursday 6 July 1995 - It was another exciting night, with the heat, humidity, and Dixie (the cat's) mousing. I don't know if she's killed one yet, but she's caught and let loose one (or some) innumerable times. She does it with maximum crashing around. I think we better get mouse traps!

Today a repeat of yesterday - low 62F, high 91F, humid, clouds building in the afternoon but not enough to make rain. We did the minimum during the day, a little genealogizing, a little napping, not much else. 1830-2000 still too warm to walk, but we wanted to see what was happening with the logging operation, so we walked up to Neil's Field and back. The road has been widened, ditched and smoothed (but not graveled) to the powerline and on to the fork. It has been widened and dozer-smoothed down to the creek. It looks like they are stopping there for now, and not going across Boise-Cascade until they have permission to use our pad and/or the Logging Road. It is a MONSTER road, with a swath that must be close to 30 feet across cleared for road and drainage ditch. They have cut the road into Neil's Field - impossible for any motor vehicle, but maybe they intend to put a culvert in and rebuild it across.

The word that kept coming to my mind as I walked up the hill was "impersonal". It may be efficient and effective for their operation, but there is absolutely no FEEL for the Hill and the forest itself. It is just ACCESS. Many loggers, oil drillers, etc. I have met say they love the land and love to be out in the wilds, but I really can't believe it's a love FOR the land. I think they like to work outdoors, but if they really had a reverence for the land itself, I think they would find other, less drastic ways to do their work. (Judgmental, I know, but that's how I see it.)

Tuesday 11 July 1995 - Spent most of the day in the Maine State Library, got back to Camp about 1930. The low last night at camp was 50F. We had only accumulated 0.05" rain over the two days we were gone, although we had had pretty good showers in Augusta and Gorham. Yesterday's and today's high temps did not register correctly because the shingle that kept the thermometer in the shade had fallen out; I think it was close to 70F each day.

2000-2030 we walked out to the creek crossing at the foot of hill, just to see what the loggers had been doing. The road is packed and smoothed, and there are ditches on the "inside" (west) side of the road. So far, they are "ditches to nowhere", and will just channel all the water out on to the road at the foot of the hill. Presumably that will be remedied, but it still looks to us that the road beds on both sides of the hill are slanting away from the ditches. If they stay that way, things will be interesting next spring.

The track down off the Dummer Hill Road toward Camp - 1993


The same "track," after the loggers were done

Wednesday 12 July 1995 - Low 56F. Light fog, then fair, calm day; lots of sun, but cumulus clouds building midday; they were pretty much gone by evening, with no local storms. High 85F.

I spent much of the day in Berlin, getting the truck's wheels balanced and front end aligned, and grocery shopping. In the afternoon, I cut off some stumps in the field to make mowing easier, but too hot to get too far.

1900-2020 we walked up Dummer Hill road to see how the cutting and road building were progressing. They have put in some culverts now; there are still some problem areas (e.g., the drainage ditch down our side of the hill just dumps out on the road at the bottom!), but presumably there is more to do. They have cut a lot of trees on both sides of the powerline now, down halfway to the fork up to Faulkenham's and up probably almost to the Boise-Cascade line on the opposite hill. There are interesting views developing across Bickford Hill to the Mahoosucs and toward the Percy Peaks.

Thursday 13 July 1995 - Overnight low 57F. Not as humid today as it was supposed to get (as major heat moved out of the Great Plains), but still reached 91F. Only a few clouds.

Didn't do much today. Sally walked out to look at the logging operation in the morning, and then both of us walked up Dummer Hill to the powerline 1900-2000. They have continued to widen the cut area at the powerline, and have also started an opening at the foot of the hill near the creek. Our speculation is that they are developing a pad in case/because of no deal with Boise-Cascade to use "our" pad.

Thursday 27 July 1995 - Returning from twelve days in Canada, arrived at Camp at 1500. It didn't look like anybody had used the logging road recently, although there was evidence of one vehicle coming into camp sometime while we were gone. It was a warm, muggy day, with showers intermittent from Rumford west. We had a brief shower and a little thunder just as we got to Camp.

1845-1945 we walked up the hill to Neil's Field to see the logging progress. They have enlarged "the pad" area near the creek two or three times what it was when we left, and have started to smooth it. They continue to extend the cut outward from the powerline. Awfully sticky to walk, but bugs merely pesky and not a real problem. Sometime in the last two weeks, the fireflies disappeared. It seems early.

The pad (log landing) near the creek

The logging pretty much stopped in early August, and didn't resume until mid-September, so we had a little respite before leaving Camp for the winter on October 2. Logging continued through the winter, and was still going on when we returned in early May. The landscape had continued to change.

Sunday 12 May 1996 - It rained much of the night, then began snowing wet, heavy flakes about 0730. It snowed on and off for several hours, accumulating an inch or so of very wet white stuff on everything. It continued to rain, sleet, hail, and snow on and off all day, but the snow (even in the woods) was gone by early afternoon. Gray, heavy skies all day, except for occasional tries by the sun to break through - it never did. Ppt. overnight (mainly rain) 1.38". Low temp 34F at 0830, then 39F at 1015, 43F at 1230 (day's high), 41F at 1500, and 37F at 1700. We had an additional 0.22" precipitation between 0830-1500.

We have had over 2" precipitation in the last two days, but the surface flow is much more than one would expect from that amount. The standing and running water is amazing. There are flood warnings in ME and NH.

We stayed indoors most of the day. From 1500 to 1700 we worked on draining our road and also walked up the hill to the powerline and back. The loggers took the big pines sometime during the winter and also clear cut more land on the southwest side of the powerline. They did put a culvert in the streambed at the bottom of the hill, and cut a couple of runoff ditches on the hill, but there is still quite a bit of washing, and potential for more. It is better than I thought it would be (hill probably drivable now if one could get across the quagmire of the new pad), but that is still "faint praise". The road up to Springer's and Faulkenham's has washed pretty badly, and will continue to do so.

Saturday 25 May 1996 - Low 35F, high 56F. Quite a bit of sun, but lots of clouds, and very windy. Pretty cold both indoors and out. 1015-1145 we went up on our hill to check out the spring beauty (some still blooming) and fumitories (lots of leaves, no blossoms found), then bushwhacked up the hill until we intercepted Faulkenham's lookout trail. Visited with Reggie and Bruce for awhile (interrupted their garden digging), then came back down the Dummer Hill Road.

After lunch, we drove off the Hill via the Logging Road, came back over Dummer Hill. Got our mail, visited at Vinyard's, and left a note for Joe at the Gun Club (nobody there, and a note for him stuck in the door already, but the flag was out). The road isn't bad, but it is even more traumatic than last year. They have done a lot more clearing and some rock crushing, and the road just follows a broad, cleared swath that could be ANYWHERE. It sure doesn't look like Dummer Hill!

* * *

The loggers weren't finished, but in early July we had some good news.

Wednesday 3 July 1996 - Overnight low 61F. Some blue sky early, but quickly clouded over. From both the Maine and Mt. Washington weather, we expected a rainy day, but we didn't get even our first sprinkles until 1300. Consequently, we worked outside much of the morning, planting hollyhocks from Becky, cleaning out weeds and trash between the bird feeder and the barn area, and (consequent to digging out rocks and roots) digging a fair-sized garden plot in back of the roses. Presumably the loggers are finishing up for the summer today. They are chipping, and appear to have hauled out most of the cut logs. When we went out yesterday, we found that they had (semi) smoothed out the road between their pad and ours, so they are trying to leave things usable. From what we have heard, they won't be back until after freeze-up.

It was hard not to think about how much the Hill had changed in two years but, as Sally wrote in the journal in the midst of all this confusion, "Our field is like a lovely oasis." We settled down to enjoy the rest of our time there.

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