Logging Jargon

Say Out of the bight

Every occupation has its jargon which you have to master. In logging, what you don't understand can kill you. Especially if it is a "bight".

"Stay out of the bight." One cannot say this too many times. As my mother was saying goodbye to me as I went out the door to the woods, she would say her goodbye, then she would say, "stay out of the bight".


When I worked, the communications between the rigging crew and the engineer was via radio bugs, worn by the hooker and rigging slinger, that controlled an air horn at the yarder.
There might be an app for it now.
Prior to the radio bug, there was a whistlepunk, who had a contact switch that he could close against a spring. The bug was hard-wired to an air horn at the yarder. The whistle punk would watch the rigging crew for hand signals to determine what whistle to send to the yarder. Safe? You bet. Nothing could go wrong as long as the whistlepunk had good eyes, good visibility, the whistle cord was properly fixed, the battery was fully charged.
There was a code of whistles, long and shorts and pauses, that told the yarding engineer what the rigging crew wanted done with the lines.
Everybody in the woods had to know these, because it would tell what lines were going to be moving.

The long blast preceeding any other sequence always implied slow speed on any moving lines. Often, rigging crews needed to do this to position the butt rigging while setting chokers. And, still, some of us survived. An engineer could move the rigging by inches, maintaining line tensions. Or, else people would die.

There were whistle codes for fire, for an accident, to send out a length of strawline, to add or remove a choker from the butt rigging. And, if worse came to worse, shut down the yarder and yell back and forth, but that was too gypo for words.

Shave and a haircut was the quitting whistle, blown by the engineer.

Otherwise, it rarely did the engineer have to whistle, unless he needed to do some maintenace. If drum brakes were feeling loose, or wet, he might run the lines a bit to dry them, or stop everythng, tighten the bands, and test the lines. There was a signal he could send to the rigging crew, and we would take a smoke break.

And, the most famous whistle, one very long, tapered at the end, to send out a marlin spike

Chinook words used daily


For best results, have all three ingredients. OK with any two.


† Actually, I know where they go, I worked in a Hammond Cedar Mill and Scott Paper in New West, so I have seen what happens.

It is an interesting language, with plenty of variations from Oregon, Washington, B.C. and Alaska. Californians sort of log, but not really, do they? I will have to find a stable collection and host it myself, I guess, as every thing I link to disappears in a week or a year. Chinook terms alway add pepper to the lingo.

"Stay out of the bight.".