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North Delta history: Skid row was key to local logging industry

Located at the foot of 72nd Avenue, it allowed for bolts of cedar to be transported to local mills.
The Delta Eastern pulls a flat car loaded with shingle bolts through the forest in North Delta circa 1914. Caption on the back of the photo reads, “Wes. H. Thompson and his ‘dinkey’ hauling shingle bolts.” (Photo courtesy of the Delta Archives, photograph #CR-133 2004-11-14)

By Nancy Demwell

Around 1910, at the foot of what is now 72nd Avenue in North Delta, there was once a skid row.

A skid row was an arrangement of logs placed over muddy terrain that would allow horses and oxen to drag sleds laden with logs to the mill. Scottsdale and Kennedy Heights in North Delta were once covered with forests that had many giant cedars.

Some of the larger trees took two or three days to cut down by teams of men using double-bladed axes and two-man buck saws. The earth would tremble when they were felled. They were then bucked into smaller logs fit for transport. This again took days to accomplish.

In the drier summer months, the large cedar trees were chopped into more manageable shingle bolts and were carried by wagon to the shingle mill. The mill produced shingles and railway ties which were loaded onto a rail car on a spur of the Great Northern Railway to be transported to market.

In 1914, the Delta Shingle Company’s proprietors built a small gauge rail line called the Delta Eastern (or the Delta Great Eastern). It had a small engine rather like the Stanley Park children’s train and meandered through the forest running from Kennedy station, near what is now the corner of 88th Avenue and Scott Road, to the Delta Shingle Mill, located just south of the Great Northern train tracks near what is now 72nd Avenue and Westview Drive.

By 1916 the mill had closed. The logging train was shut down and the equipment and engine were moved to a new location.

Nancy Demwell is a board member with the Delta Museum and Archives Society.