Logging has long been a major industry in the Sacopee Valley and surrounding towns. In the early days timber was most often cut in the winter. If not hauled to local or portable saw mills near by, the logs were transported by horses or trucks to landings along the Ossipee and Saco river banks to wait for spring and high river waters. In about April after the river ice was gone men called “river drivers” rolled them into the river and floated them down stream all the way to the mills of J. G. Deering & Son and Diamond Match Company on the Saco River in Biddeford.
River Driving - 1918
River driving was an annual occurrence on the Great Ossipee River from the 1820’s right into the middle of the 1960’s. Here men are knee-deep in the frigid water of the Ossipee River in an effort to keep the logs moving over the dam at Kezar Falls. Many logs were destined for mills along the Saco River. The Kezar Falls covered bridge is in the background and Garner Island is on the right.
“Rearing After” by Bateau. Following the river drive, men in bateaus use their peaveys and pike poles to break up log jams. These men are working the river above the falls at Kezar Falls. Elm Street homes are in the background. River driving was dangerous, but many made it their life’s work. Russell Chisholm of Cornish was the only river driver to lose his life on the Ossipee River. He drowned at age 24 – May 23, 1940 on the drive below mouth of Pleasant Pond
In the 1970’s river drives were no longer allowed because of the pollution and environmental damage they caused.