Camp Martin Johnson History Part Three by Martin Johnson


The next spring I got shingles and shingled the house outside the legs and then commenced clearing the land, chopping down dead trees and the wind-falls. I rolled the logs together with the bushes to burn, but anyone who has not had the experience cannot understand, or have any idea what a tremendous lot of work it is to go into the wilderness and dig out a farm. It was a long fight, but a good fight, and has had tis reward. There is joy and comfort in it too; it is work that invigorates and gives one a good appetite. I think working in the open and learning the smell of smoke has added very much to my health and strength, as I was not nearly as strong when I first came as afterwards. The work was so slow that it did not look as if I would ever make any headway. If timber was as scarce as it is now the lumbermen would have taken all of it and my work would have been less, but then I would not have had anything handy to build with.
At that time there was no second growth timber of any kind. All that the lumberman left the fire and the camps and logging trains killed; hence all one could see was dead trees and stumps. Where ever the lumberman had been there was desolation supreme. Many times when I look back now I don’t know how I ever had courage to tackle the work of clearing. The first two years I was here I did not have a team, but hired one now and then. The third year I bought a team of horses and commenced to plow among the stumps. It was discouraging work; the plow caught in the roots and snags and I would have to pull and tug and the next minute would be caught again. So it was all the while I kept on clearing. I generally put in from 12 to 18 hours a day, and was many times discouraged but kept at it. If it had not been for this beautiful lake I could not have endured it, as many times I felt like giving up and would sit down and watch the water and shadows and reflections, and think and dream; then I would get at it again. I really never felt I wanted to give up and quite, so little by little the place was cleared. The big pine stumps I left until I got a cable stump machine and dynamite, and I began to blast enough to split them up and pull them out with the machine. It was slow work for one alone, but it went little by little the same as the other work.

It was remarkable how much stuff came out of the ground; when I had a field stump the ground would be so completely covered that I had to swueeze through and begin in some corner to pile them. It was hard work, but to burn them after they were piled was great fun. There would be a pillar of fire sky high from the turpentine and alcohol in the wood. The fire would seem to rain down from the clouds, and I was happy to see the stumps go. Every kind of work well done has its reward, and there is no joy like the joy of a day well spent. Some of the pine stumps were good sized ones. I had one or two that were big enough to have set a good sized table with chairs around it. Under the biggest one I put five pounds of dynamite, and even then only blew out half of it. After I got well started to stump I cleared about five acres each year until the work grew much easier. Then I began to do what I could to beautify the place; clean up the shores and get logs, trees, and brush out of the water and so kept myself busy.

My days have been pretty full and many of them have been hard, but I do not regret it as I have been much more contented here than ever before, and time has gone flying, where it has flown to I do not know. It is like a dream to me when I look back on these thirty years. My only regreat is that I did not get started ten years earlier so I could have done more for the place while my strength lasted. However, I am glad and thankful for what has been done.

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