A logger’s life: Larry Manning reflects on five decades of cutting timber

November, 2017 Posted in Community, Nature

By Mary Owen

Meet Logger Larry!Larry Manning_Manning Cutting & Logging 2017

Owner-operator of Manning Cutting Inc., Larry Manning always wanted to cut timber.

“I grew up in a logging family, and knew from a very young age that logging was what I wanted to do,” said Manning, a Sublimity resident who hails from four generations of family loggers.

Manning’s neighbor Nicole Miller said, “These generations have incredible details of how the industry has changed through the years. Grandpa Sim Etzel of Stayton used to build mills in the 1920s. His son-in-law Leland Manning of Lyons logged in the ‘50s, and now Larry and his son, Corey, are logging in a new century.”

Manning started working for his dad in the summer of 1968, between his freshman and sophomore year of high school, he said.

“A good friend of mine was starting to cut timber for his dad who had a contract for cutting timber,” he explained. “He agreed to break me in, so I worked for him for 10 years before I got my own cutting contract.

“Back then it was a lot more challenging,” Manning added. “You may have had to cut six to eight trees in a day versus 150-200 today. Some of the trees were about 8 to 9 feet in diameter. The biggest I’ve cut was 11 feet in diameter.”

Manning said industry rules have changed much over the years.

“When I started, if a log fell in the creek, we could remove them and add them to our haul,” he said. “Today, if a log falls into a creek, legally we can’t remove them, due to environmental laws. Basically, we just lose the log to the creek.”

Good logs were sometimes left lying on the ground “for the critters,” and loggers would blow the top out of a good tree so birds could nest, Manning added.

Safety standards have also improved with the replacement of hand saws and spring boards with power saws and other updated tools, as well as the move from old-growth timber to smaller timber stands.

Manning’s one constant over his 30 some years of contracting is the friends he made.

“You spend a lot of time with your crew when you’re traveling two hours each way on the longer jobs,” Manning said. “The crew liked working straight through a day without lunch, so we could go home earlier. We all communicated daily on the hazards that lay ahead as you walked to your saw every day.”

But in three decades, Manning said only one accident was critical enough for a team member to be flown by Life Flight to a nearby hospital.

“He crushed his leg, and, of course, that was the last tree on the job,” he said. “Unfortunately, it ended his cutting days.

“There have always been accidents and a lot of close calls, but if you don’t find a way to show up and work, you don’t make money,” he said. “There is no light duty.”

Manning’s son, Corey, lives in Stayton, and is a proverbial “chip off the old block,” always wanting to cut timber.

“After trying to talk him out of it, I ended up breaking him in, and he’s been cutting for 20 years,” Manning said. “We decided to switch to logging so we could do something different every day, not just cut.”

Two weeks ago while cutting, a large limb came down and broke Corey’s shoulder in two places.

“Which was bad timing because it’s now the start of deer and elk season,” Manning said. “If it looks like a nice good day for hunting or fishing, we can just take the day off.”

To further his father-son adventures, Manning would like to cut work travel from all throughout Oregon to jobs within 60 miles of his home.

“Working around the Canyon or the outskirts is ideal,” he said.

Manning isn’t sure if Corey’s two boys, ages 10 and 12, have any interest in “going to work in the woods,” but might just choose to do so if it means working with their dad and grandpa.

“My nephew, Chad, and his dad, Ken, also help out when they can,” he said. “Chad runs shovel and Cat and Ken runs the Cat.”

Jokes and pranks help to lighten their heavy workload, and most of the time, the new guy on the team gets the worst of the shenanigans, Manning said.

“One day after a prank was pulled and the guy thought he had got the best of the other person, that person waited until it rained and ran a wire to a spark plug and under the seat to the coil,” he said. “The guy kept thinking there was a bee stinging him. You have to stay on your toes because there is always someone plotting!”

Pranks aside, Manning finds it satisfying to look down a hill after a day on the job and see how far they have worked their way up.

“We now cut it and log it, whereas before we just did cutting and left the logging to someone else,” he said. “We can do thinning and clear cuts, and we always pile the brush.”

Manning loves working outdoors in the open air, and plans to continue to cut and log timber.

“Seeing the different countryside and deer, elk and other game,” he said, “has been a great perk!”

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