Monday, May 21, 2007

What's a green chain?

I hate coming up with titles.
But I love finding the right one. And this title hasn't changed since we first started talking about making this movie in 2004.
I hope this title works on all sorts of levels. But if you're not from a lumber town, you may not know there's a literal definition.

Here's a nice definition from Wikipedia (of course, being Wikipedia, it may change by the time you look).

Green chain is a type of lumber delivery system that can be used in a sawmill. The green chain's purpose is to collect the final product of the mill and move it at a controlled rate. In the 19th and early to late 20th century, the green chain was used by people. Men would stand alongside and pull lumber that matches the required dimensions and place it in piles. In short, the workers sorted the lumber. Modern sawmills use automatic systems, such as the lumber dropping through the chain into large slings, where it can be picked up and moved to a staging area to dry. Most likely called the green chain because the lumber is green and has not been seasoned.

And this is from a site on the history of the Columbia River.

Timber-related work attracted all kinds of people to the area. The jobs paid well but they required skill and were quite dangerous. Young men often started mill work on the "green chain" where they would sort outgoing lumber according to quality and size. Better jobs and, for decades, job security awaited them in the booming mills and surrounding forests.
I was working on, they call it the green chain now but didn't call it the green chain then. They just had some rollers there that push the lumber down. We'd slip it over there and put it out on the pile and then a guy would come around and straighten it up a little bit so they could haul it. . . The green chain is a flat table with a whole bunch of chains on it that they put all the lumber on as they cut it and it comes down on there and they sort it for size. . . They had two trucks hauling it away faster than we could stack it up.
--Charles Plummer, logger and mill worker, 1999.

If you've got any other on-line definitions -- or want to add one -- please add a comment or zap us an email.

1 comment:

christian said...

I pull chain in a mill in northern california and our chain is bowshaped with 10 units fanned out like a deck of cards.. the headrig operator goes through the logs very quickly so our chain never has gaps or breaks in it. Its constantly moving and we got anything from 2x4s to 6x12s starting from 8fts to 16fts. The way its set up is so the carrier driver has easier and faster access to our units so he can get them outa there faster. Pulling chain is all about tecnique and using ur legs rather than ur back, but it requires speed and stamina and of couse strength and agility although tecnique is really the key. ..