A savage river, ready to kill, playing a cat-and-mouse game with a man’s life—this was the Greenbrier as it coursed through the white pine forests of West Virginia. In Riders of the Flood, Warren E. Blackhurt presents a thrilling picture of logging on the Greenbrier some seventy years ago, a little-known, rich vein of Americana.
Old-time loggers were a two-fisted crew, tough, hardy men who loved their calling as a sailor loves the sea. Fearless, red-blooded, intense in their loyalties, the woodsmen formed a rugged, distinctly American brotherhood.
Into the midst of these rough-and-ready customers comes Duncan mall, a playboy who has never done a day’s work. Sent into the woods by a wise old character who gambles on his stamina, Duncan learns, the hard way, to be a man.
Here he meets Tad Stevens, “best damned peeler in the States and Canada”; “Windy” hammer, elaborate if heavy-handed practical joker; the “Chicago Fire”, so called because of this obsession with that blaze; and other lumber-camp figures, many based upon authentic loggers of the great pioneer era.
Here, too, he rescues from the roaring river the lovely Martha Mendell, and is instantly bowled over by a force stronger than the river itself.
The making of Duncan Mall is an exciting, dramatic story. Set in a carefully authenticated background which brings to vivid life a heroic day now past, it brings new color to the inspiring saga of pioneer America.
Action, romance, humor, drama –they are all here, from the fascinating details that made up a woodsman’s life to the sensational manifestations of Nature as a long-awaited ice break of Springs released the wild spectacle of her angry power.
About the author:
Author Warren Elmer ‘‘Tweard’’ Blackhurst (October 10, 1904-October 5, 1970) was born in Arbovale, Pocahontas County. Educated at Glenville State Teachers College, he taught English and Latin at Green Bank High School from 1932 to 1964. He developed and taught the state’s first conservation class, and supervised senior students in the planting of five acres of seedlings annually in the Monongahela National Forest.
Blackhurst wrote for magazines and newspapers on conservation and wildlife. His popular novels, which retold stories of Cass and the history of the timber boom years in the Greenbrier Valley, included Riders of the Flood (1954), which was his most successful book, Sawdust In Your Eyes (1963), Of Men and A Mighty Mountain (1965), and Mixed Harvest (1970). Afterglow, a collection of poetry and prose, was published posthumously in 1972. Blackhurst, instrumental in a citizens’ group that lobbied for acquisition of land and equipment to establish the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, was its first commentator in 1963. Between puffs on his pipe, he would give lessons on history, geology, and other aspects of the area during train rides up and down the mountain. He was also a popular public speaker, sharing the history and human interest of Pocahontas County with wit and insight.