Remnants of the Past: Oregon’s Lumber Icons

Wigwam burners in Sweet Home, Cottage Grove, and Oakland.

Wigwam burners in Sweet Home, Cottage Grove, and Oakland.

Wigwam burners — those towering structures which used to incinerated waste at our local mills — once speckled the landscapes of timber towns throughout the Pacific Northwest. Cottage Grove had numerous wigwam burners, including one standing where the Safeway store is now and another alongside River Road, not far from the Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge. We still have one wigwam burner left. however it often escapes notice because it is small and built of concrete instead of the usual steal-sided structures we are more familiar with.

Wigwam article

My recent article in the Oregon Community Connection magazine.

Readers of this blog know I have a fascination with wigwam burners. That interest has resulted in an article about the burners for the magazine Oregon Community Connection. While writing the article, I had the chance to talk with Curt Deatherage of Creswell, who has been bitten — hard — by the “wigwam bug.” For the past 15 years, Curt has been seeking out and photographing wigwam burners throughout the northwest, including Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Northern California. Curt estimates he has taken photographs of about 250 different burners, and when we talked, he estimated that there are still 40 to 45 burners left in Oregon.

To learn more about wigwam burners, check out my article from the Oregon Community Connection or the one Curt wrote for the Creswell Chronicle.

You can also see Curt’s great photographs on his Flickr site. For a number of years, Curt created calendars from his photographs, however his latest creative adventure is a self-published book called Lumber Icons. If you would like to know more about that, email him at curtdeath (at) yahoo.com.

And stay tuned here on the blog, as I’ve got more wigwam tid-bits to share in the near future.

Wigwam burner in Cottage Grove circa 1950

A wigwam burner (at the far left of the photo) stands alongside the Coast Fork River, not far from the Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge. Photo circa 1950 and from Curt Deatherage’s Flickr Album.

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