Lumbering in West Virginia, 1770-1920
by Roy Clarkson
With photos and a map.
Tumult on the Mountains starts with the birth of West Virginia's lumbering industry and follows it through its rapid decline around 1909. The industry grew slowly as settlers headed west and needed sawn timber. Once the original timber was destroyed, however, the state's lumbering business disappeared. Much of the information and many of the photographs in this book were collected from "old-timers" who fondly recalled their life in the lumbering business. The book's emphasis is on the day-to-day work life of the stalwart men who worked in this difficult, and at times dangerous, business.
The book Tumult on the Mountains: Lumbering in West Virginia 1770â€“1920, published in 1964, was written by Roy B. Clarkson, a native of the lumber town of Cass. Also the author of a history of Cass, On Beyond Leatherbark (1990), Clarkson worked at the large sawmill operation in Cass before earning a Ph.D. from West Virginia University and beginning his career as a professor of biology.
Tumult on the Mountains is a West Virginia best-seller, with more than 20,000 copies in print. The book covers the West Virginia forests from the first written accounts of George Washington in 1770 to the eventual depletion of all but a few isolated stands of virgin forest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although primarily a pictorial history, the book has an extensive text that describes the plant and animal life of the early wilderness, the pioneersâ€™ impact on the land, and the coming of the timber industry to the mountains, including the impact of new technology in sawmills and railroads. Above all, Tumult on the Mountains is a detailed look at life in the timber camps, through photographs and interviews with loggers. It includes 257 full-page pictures from the time period. The book also includes a glossary of logging terms, a map of logging boom towns (many of which no longer exist), and an extensive bibliography.
About the author:
Professor Roy B. Clarkson is the historian of West Virginiaâ€™s timber industry and one of the stateâ€™s most prominent botanists. Clarkson was born October 25, 1926, and raised in Cass, Pocahontas County, still a major lumber boom town at that time. After service in the U.S. Army near the end of World War II, he began his college education at Davis and Elkins College, from which he graduated with a degree in mathematics and biology. Clarkson soon narrowed his concentration to biological studies and earned a Ph.D. in botany from West Virginia University. He joined the Department of Biology faculty there in 1956 and retired as professor emeritus in 1992.
Clarkson authored Tumult on the Mountains: Lumbering in West Virginia, 1770â€“1920 (1964) and On Beyond Leatherbark: the Cass Saga (1990), both of which detail the history of the timber industry. He has co-authored four books on botanical subjects, has authored numerous articles, and has been the recipient of several research grants. His honors include election to membership in Sigma Xi and Gamma Sigma Delta; receipt of the Elizabeth Ann Bartholomew Award from the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society; and election to the West Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame.