Courtesy of Don Gibson, Route 3, Box 800, Antioch, Illinois 60002.

Don Gibson

Content Tools

Courtesy of Ed Jungst Minneapolis, Minnesota

This drag saw is another tribute to the will of the individual to survive the great depression through willpower, ingenuity, and initiative. It was built by Irvin H. Larson, now a resident of the Minneapolis area.

Rolling the Venn-Severin onto temporary cribbing. A good look at the oil and air control valves above crankshaft end. L. to r. Don Gibson, John Davidson, John Haisma and Rodger Phillips on tractor.

Irvin was a 24 year old carpenter in 1930, when he and a cousin decided to cut firewood in the Fairfax, Minnesota, area to help them survive the long, lean Minnesota winters. They contracted with a trucker who had bought stumpage on a tract of land in the Minnesota River bottoms near historic Fort Ridgely, which was made famous during the Sioux Indian uprising of 1862. Irvin and his cousin were to fall the trees, buck them up in stovewood lengths and split them. All this at the rate of one dollar per cord. Trees were elm, soft maple, basswood and ash ranging from one to three feet in diameter.

It didn't take them long to realize the need to mechanize, so they went to an implement dealer in Gibbon, Minnesota, and purchased the Hercules engine for three dollars; used but in good condition. A one man crosscut saw blade was tried, but being too thin it doubled right up ribbon shaped in short order. More cash outlay was found necessary when a genuine blade was ordered out from Sears Roebuck. Wheels were from two old grain binders. Trucks did not swing, as with fancier commercial models, so machine was simply dragged sideways to new cut by these young strappers. Gear reduction was from an old pump jack. Clutch assembly was made from two old Chevrolet clutches. Pitch problem was solved by pouring kerosene on the blade when necessary.

The end of the line and a new home for a grand old engine. L. to r. Bob Schmidt, Rodger Phillips, Jim Harmon, Bobby Givson, John Davidson, Don Gibson and John Haisma.

Irv says, 'Though the machine would make four cuts for every one we could make with a two man crosscut, we worked all winter and in spring we were exactly where we started in the fall -- BROKE. We walked off and left the machine sit in the woods in the spring of '32 and never went back.'