Log Rafts and Baptisms

Missourian photographer Fred Lynch ran an old Frony picture of a log raft being piloted down the Mississippi River. It just so happened that I was editing a batch of photos I had taken of a Mississippi River baptism in New Madrid and spotted a small log raft tied up on the riverbank. Up until then, I would have said I had never seen one. Funny what you miss when you’re focusing, literally, on something else.

New Madrid Mississippi River baptism

I was pulling the photos together for a special project. After I see where that might lead, I’ll run the whole batch. I’m kind of pleased with some of the images. I shot them just before I left Cape for Ohio University, so they turned out to be a sort of final exam that marked where I had gotten photographically up to that point.  Some of them stand up well close to half a century later.

The only thing I’m kicking myself for after all these years is being infected with One-Shot Fronyism. There were too many circumstances where I took a single frame of a subject that cried out for more exploration.

14 Replies to “Log Rafts and Baptisms”

  1. My dad helped break up log rafts at the sawmill on the Coal River in WV with a Pee Vee, starting when he was 12 years old. There were little islands built in the river to anchor steel cables to stop the raft from going all the way to the Kanawha, Ohio and beyond. You can still buy a Pee Vee on Amazon, but they don’t look the same. I’ve used one to roll logs in Pendleton County, WV as recent as 1977; not very recent anymore!

  2. I grew up in New Madrid and didn’t move to Cape until my Sophomore year, 1962. My Dad’s first job after he married my mother was at the saw mill for $1 an hour. (that was in 1946) His father worked for the mill also. He would go down the river looking for trees that had fallen fallen into the river, raft them and leave a flag on them for the pilot boat to pick up and take back to the mill. When my Dad quit school in his 10th grade year, he went out on the river with his Dad rafting trees. They slept on sandbars and cooked on campfires. My Dad remembered it as a special time with my Grandfather and they shared many special hours together. I was sad to see the old mill has been demolished. The whistle blew every day at noon. That is how we kids playing outside knew it was time to come home for lunch (or dinner as we called it). Thanks for the memories.

  3. When I was doing the genealogy project of the early McKeowns, I found my ancestors were involved in the lumber business from the 1870s to the 1930s, moving from the Ludington, MI, to the Upper Pennisula to Hayward, WI, to Kiln, Lumberton, and Canton, MS, and finally near Burns, OR. Whenever the lumber was exhausted in an area, the sawmill would close and the family would move on. This pattern continued until my Grandfather McKeown died of pneumonia in Oregon in 1937 and the rest of the family moved to Chicago. Even after that,one of my great uncles managed a Hines Lumber yard in the Chicago area until he retired in the early 1960s. I been to more lumber museums, old lumber sites, and read more books on the lumber industry than I ever could have predicted before starting this project.

  4. Thanks, Ken … once again … for sharing on interesting topics from our past. I am unaware of my own history with the lumber in CG area … but a long time dear friend who I met at MIZZOU has at least one of her great grandfather’s boots or shoes cast for the one(s) on the figure on the top of the Oregon State Capitol building. I saw it last year when I visited her. I believe her grandfather received the patton on some logging equipment. I saw a nicely put together family museum on their ranch that told some of the history. I found it interesting that Jane has family that was apart of that big picture in Oregon too.

  5. Bob’s post regarding the peaveys reminded me that your dad provided the peaveys, pikes, chains, ropes and other pioneering equipment for Troop 8 one year when we were preparing our patrols for competition at the upcoming Camporee at Camp Lewallen. The theme of the Camporee was pioneering. Your dad helped teach us all how roll, drag and generally handle logs as well as tying all kinds of knots and lashing. Including the types of lashings necessary to make log rafts.

  6. This is my dad, Elder B. A. Armour (preacher on the left, many, many years ago when the saints were still baptizing once a year in the Mississippi River. wow!!!!!

  7. I’m also the daughter of Bishop Armour and I was home to visit and saw the picture. Showed my father and he says he conducted the baptisms with JC Pullen (preacher on the right). Not sure who the child in the photo is but he says he conducted them every year for 7 years. Do you have other photos or just the 2 that are here. This is a wonderful photo of my father. We had a very long conversation about this. Thank you for posted.

      1. That’s wonderful. I’m sure he’d be happy to speak with you. I understand my sister has given you his number to contact. Thank you again for posting these pictures and sharing a great part of our history!!

  8. What a wonderful,awesome surprise; could never imagine I would see my mother (Leola London)in one of the photos you took in 1697 at the Mississippi Baptism in New Madrid, Missouri. Good bless you for keeping these precious photos in your archives and now we all can see our loved one that has passed on in their younger days. Also in the photo, Elder B.A. Armour was our church pastor at that time. I also stumble across another photo I saw in Facebook, my sister, brother, two friends Betty Robinson and our pastor daughter. I would love to see more of these 1967 Mississippi Baptism photos. Ken,thank you for these memory lane photos.

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