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Woodwicks celebrate logging heritage in new book

(Arcadia Publishing) The cover of Logging in Grays Harbor, compiled by mother and son Gene and Brian Woodwick.
(Arcadia Publishing) The cover of Logging in Grays Harbor, compiled by mother and son Gene and Brian Woodwick.
(Coastal Heritage Services Gene Woodwick Collection) The crew at the Gillis Camp is ready for supper on June 6, 1901.
(Coastal Heritage Services Gene Woodwick Collection) The crew at the Gillis Camp is ready for supper on June 6, 1901.

The call of Grays Harbor’s past lured mother and son, Gene Woodwick and Brian Woodwick, into a forest of old and new photographs to produce their new book, “Logging in Grays Harbor.”

The paperback photo history is part of the Images of America series by Arcadia Publishing, a leading purveyor of local and regional history. It was released in mid-July.

“The reason we really wanted to do it was common, ordinary loggers are such wonderful people and they don’t hardly get their place in the sun,” Gene Woodwick said.

Loggers are also “funnier than heck,” says Woodwick, 74. She likes to write about characters of the region because “you live long enough and you are history … besides, I am nosy,” she said.

The book is dedicated to “the skilled men of the Grays Harbor logging community, who exemplify the heritage of hard workers committed to their workplaces … caring and loving family men … men of honorable character.”

Gene Woodwick, a columnist for The Daily World, North Coast News and South Beach Bulletin, has covered the Olympic Peninsula’s forests and the loggers who live here for more than 50 years. Her eldest son, Brian, started using his mother’s Kodak Brownie when he was four years old in Forks, where the family lived at the time.

“She had a small contact printer for a dark room,” he remembered. “No enlarger, just a little device that you put the negative on a piece of print paper to expose. I was hooked from then on.”

She remembers watching her son become entranced. He told her he wanted people to see him as an old man and proclaim: “‘See that old guy? He’s a photographer,’” she said from her home in Ocean Shores.

The book is full of historical photos, many from her private collection as well as from museums such as the Aberdeen Museum of History, the Willapa Seaport Museum, the Museum of North Beach and the Polson Museum. The Quinault Department of Natural Resources contributed photos as did the private collections of Dale Hill and Pat Rabey Trucking, Inc.

“I am grateful to (everyone) who let me crawl over their collections,” said Gene Woodwick. Brian worked wonders to bring the old photographs back to life, she said.

Having negatives would have been best, but often they were not available, he said. The photographs from the museum collections were photographed on site in ambient light. Others were scanned on a flat bed.

“The biggest challenge were the old newsprint copy due to the half-toned images,” Brian Woodwick said. Capturing prints on textured paper was also tough.

“Logging in Grays Harbor” traces the history of logging on the Harbor from the first loggers onward, from homestead horses to bullwhackers (ox drivers) to whistle punks (the youngest members of lumberjack crews) to steam donkeys (steam-powered winches) to truckers and ships.

Gene Woodwick was a bit disappointed that a glossary of logging terms hit the cutting room floor in editing for publication, as did a recounting of the spotted owl controversy and some tales about union movements.

The present is covered by Brian Woodwick’s recent photos of that modern day annual event that salutes the past, Loggers Playday in Hoquiam.

Brian recently devoted himself full time to photography work: woodwickphoto.com. Much of his career has been centered on fine art prints. He spent years photographing rock bands and his work hangs in the Experience Music Project in Seattle. His work has also appeared in The Seattle Times, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer as well as The Daily World.

This is Gene Woodwick’s second book; her first is called “Ocean Shores.” Now a keeper with Willapa Seaport Museum in Raymond, she is at work on a third.

“Life’s too short when you love history,” she said.

You may order the book from www.arcadiapublishing.com, where it sells for $21.99, and on Amazon.com, where prices fluctuate.