Everett Butler: A Life in the Forest

"Most People have no idea where their lumber comes from, or what happens to get it. I wanted to tell the story of logging in Oregon."

-Everett Butler

   When you first enter Everett Butler’s apartment in the Regency Assisted Living facility in Redmond, you immediately notice what was once a kitchenette has been converted into a fully functional wood shop. From the small drill press, the miniature table saw, and the homemade dust collector, to the shelves of various sizes of wood and shades of paint, it becomes abundantly clear that Butler, 95, is serious about model building. This comes into even sharper focus as you notice his Magnum Opus: a scale model of Oregon’s Early 20th Century Logging Industry.

   Born in 1922, Everett Butler has spent his life in the forest. A 32 year veteran of the Oregon Department of Forestry, he has worked in every aspect of the logging industry, and retired in 1997.

   “It was a need I had for the preservation of a resource that my grandfather taught me to respect when I was a little guy,” Butler said of his career,

   “I grew up in the forest, I’ve always been very conscious of it, and it’s been a major part of my life.”

   Everett spent the majority of his younger days on a 110 acre piece of land his grandfather claimed as a land grant in 1850, and was around logging from an early age. 

   “We had timber on my grandfathers land, and he didn’t want it cut. He was always complaining, because we had to cut some of it for firewood, and he was disgusted about that,” he recalled, 

   “Once he passed away, there was a need during the depression for funds to pay the taxes on the property, so some of it was cut.” 

   Everett served in the navy during World War II, and upon returning, and a short stint as a machinist, got a job in Oregon’s Forestry Department, where he worked in fire control, replanting efforts, running logging crews, and also as an inspector, where he was in charge of making sure companies respected the laws and the land.  

   He was involved in the planning and implementation of the 1971 Forest Practices Act, passed by the legislature, which has provided guidance for reforestation for the last 46 years. 

   

   Everett has always had a passion for projects and building things, and this has led him to his current passion of model making. His apartment in the assisted living facility is quite the spectacle of woodworking ingenuity and problem solving, and his model of the logging industry is no different.

Measuring about 6 feet long by about 3 feet wide, the model tells the story of the mid-20th century logging industry, from falling to the delivery to a saw mill. 

   The scene starts in a forest, with many fallen trees, made of thick dowels, where a servo motor powered pulley system, emulating a “high lead” logging system, hauls the logs to a landing where they’re loaded onto a small, powerful train, which then takes the logs through a tunnel, to a landing where they’re dropped into a fully functioning water flume, which takes them to a mill pond at the sawmill. From the sawmill, which is currently not functional, but Everett is confident they’ll figure that out, the milled lumber is then loaded onto a larger train, which delivers it to market. This model is based after a lumber camp run by the Coos Lumber Company, which Everett saw a lot of as a young man.

   “What we wanted to do, like dad said, is let people know what it takes to get lumber out of the woods and into the local Home Depot,” Rick Butler, Everett’s retired son, said. 

   The two have worked for 5 months on the project, which Everett describes as his passion. While they say they could tinker with it for a long time, the pair wishes to display their model somewhere it can be appreciated and used as a teaching tool. 

   “This is definitely something to share with other people, to get the message out about what it used to be like or what it’s like in the woods.” Said Rick.

   To that end, The Redmond Chamber of Commerce is actively seeking a place where this amazing model can be used, appreciated, and assist in teaching people about the industry which dominated the Oregonian Economy for most of the 20th Century. 

    If you are interested in displaying the model, or have ideas where it would be well received, please call 541-923-5191.