John Starr related that he made his first trip down river starting from
Mehans Mill on the Wisconsin River and located about half way between Biron and
Stevens Point. He ran lumber for the next fifteen years thereafter and the last
trip was in 1888 and in the views of "rafting" John Starr is in the
group with John Daly's crew.
Usually they started in May. This late date was given as necessary for the green lumber to dry out from the winter cut. Mr. Starr was head bowsman. There were different stages of water on the Wisconsin River. After June freshets the water would be very low, and difficult to get over sand bars, when they got stuck on sand bars he said, "We would swing one or two pieces out into the current and if that didn't carry off the bar then we would hold it until the water would back up".
"When we got down in the lower part of the Wisconsin River we spent much time getting the rafts off the sand bars. On trip in particular, we had trouble from Portage to Green River. That is about eighteen miles from the mouth of the river. In order to save handspiking and so we would not get stuck, the pilot went on ahead and staked out the channel for us, and we would run by those stakes. That avoided handspiking. We would go down five or six miles and land, then walk back for the half, and then tie up late in the evening. That is the way we worked it all the way down until we got to the mouth of Green River. The last eighteen miles we got along all right.
All I ever saw was this boat from Sauk to Portage; the Alvin Hardy [left]. That was the only boat I saw on all of my trips down there, except that government boat, that was building those wing dams".
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