Building Rafts and Sparring Logs on the Bennett’s Branch
Contributed by Jim Burke
One of the first big businesses in Bennett’s Valley was the cutting of the big pines, cutting them into spars, assembling the spars into rafts and floating the rafts down the Bennett’s Branch to Williamsport.
The choice pine trees in Bennett’s Valley were located on the flat mountain tops where they grew exceptionally tall and straight, and could be timbered without breaking when they fell. This was very important as many of the logs cut from these majestic pine trees were trimmed into spar logs, built into rafts and floated on down the Bennett’s Branch. Splash dams were built on nearly every tributary of the branch for the purpose of flooding the branch to float the big rafts down stream.
According to many accounts, Levi Hicks of Hicks Run was the pilot on the first pine raft floated down the branch. Some of these spar log where huge. Miles Dent of Dents Run reportedly cut a log that was approximately one hundred feet long and contained about five thousand board feet of lumber.
This past year a hemlock spar was found near Grant. The Spar measure a little of twelve inches square and was forty-three feet, eight inches long. It is believe that this spar was a member of the Summerson Dam that spanned the Bennett’s Branch, and used to flood the Branch to float first log rafts and later branded logs.
Sparing the huge logs was a profession all in it self. The above picture shows a raft of square timber and how they were lashed together. – Story of Sinnamahone – Huntley.
The bottom illustration shows how the large logs were sparred.