Monday, December 7, 2009

What are "Cutter Shoes"?


Friends of the SALINE VALLEY SALT TRAM
www.SaltTram.blogspot.com   SalineValleySaltTram@gmail.com
Salt Tram history is rapidly disappearing, and we are striving to rediscover the efforts of our forefathers in order to give proper recognition to their hopes, dreams and abundant sweat from an era that is rapidly fading from our memories. We are actively seeking out information about the mining of Salt in Saline Valley between 1903 and the 1950's, including: documents, photos, articles, stories, artifacts, etc. If you can help us out, please email us at the address above - Thank-you! --Tim and Brian Waag, the Waag brothers (aka E. Clampus Waagus).
Caution (PLEASE READ): Climbing around on the tramway is dangerous because its really old and defnitely unsafe, so don't even think about it. Shoot, just getting to it requires some perilous hiking, and if you don't believe me, just take a look at the Zig Zag Access Trail (or what's left of it). Plus, climbing on it weakens it and endangers your life. Also, the Saline Valley Salt Tram is on the National Register of Historic Places and should be treated with the respect that it deserves. What little remains is of great historic value, and should not be disturbed in any way. Heck, its probably against the law to move parts of the tram around, and certainly a crime to take home some of the few bits of it that remain (though you'd have to ask your friendly local BLM agent for details). So please treat it with the respect it deserves, so that future generations can enjoy whats left, without you messing it up. Really. Please. You can see its listing on the National Register of Historic Places at these web links:
National Register of Historic Places 1          National Register of Historic Places 2

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With Help from an Anonymous Comment (updated November 2010): Wow, I just got to this post - thanks. Believe that you are right! Can't find ANY internet references to Cutter Shoes aka Logging Shoes, so Cutter Shoes is probably not a generic term for a style of shoe. Instead, I'm going with A. A. Cutter as the shoe supply company that is being referenced! These shoes were handmade with the best material to the highest standards of quality, and would thus be an item of great importance to someone such as Cliff who is working outside in rugged terrain and cruel weather (both hot and cold and windy). Thanks!

Anonymous wrote in their comment: Cutter shoes may refer to logging shoes made by the AA Cutter company of Eau Claire Wisconsin that made logging boots from the early 1870 to at least 1923

Link to A. A. Cutter shoe factory of Wisconsin

A few excerpts from the above reference:
The man on the drive, the cruise or in the woods - the lumberjack - is the most discriminating person in the world about one thing.  He is as exacting in that as the Beau Brummel of the boulevards is about his dress.  That one thing is his shoes.  The shoes of the lumberjack must fit comfortably, since the nature of his work demands foot comfort.  His shoes must be made of the very best leather and fashioned in the very best way in order to stand the heavy strain.  The lumberjack has his shoemaker just as the boulevard dandy has his tailor, and usually his shoemaker is the A. A. Cutter Company, of Eau Claire, Wis.  Ask almost any lumberjack what make of shoe he wears and his answer will probably be "Cutter."  The Cutter make means par excellence to the man with the ax and saw or the peavey, pike pole and cant hook.
Back in 1870, when Eau Claire was a great sawmill center, with twenty-two mills busy sawing northern timber, A. A. Cutter was the leading shoe retailer in town.  The lumberjacks who occasionally came out of the woods in large numbers demanded a distinctive shoe.  To meet this demand Mr. Cutter kept two cobblers busy making shoes that suited the lumberjacks.  The lumberjacks, who were mostly of French or Irish nationality, demanded quality in their shoes and did not heed the cost.  At that time it was customary for them to leave their measure in the fall before going into the woods and on their return the following spring their made-to-measure shoes would be ready.
In 1892 Mr. Cutter discontinued the retail business and began manufacturing exclusively for lumbermen's needs.  Today the concern is considered one of the leading manufacturers of high-grade footwear for lumbermen, miners, cruisers, surveyors, prospectors, rangers and sportsmen in the United States.  The company has a model factory at Eau Claire.  A force of nearly 100 are employed in making handmade shoes, and the output is from 200 to 350 pairs a day. 
The Cutter shoes are almost entirely hand-made, the only exception being a minor part of the stitching.  Only solid leather throughout is used.  No leather substitute ever entered the Cutter factory.  Some leather reaches there that inspection shows can not be used, and in such case it is returned to the tanners.  Only the heart of the imported hide is used and the remainder is disposed of to other manufacturers or used in cheaper low-cut shoes.  The cobblers employed are chiefly German and Norwegian, who served apprenticeships in their native countries.  The only difficulty that the Cutter company experiences is in obtaining skilled workers.  Since the introduction of machinery into most shoe factories of this county and Europe, fewer young men have been apprenticed to the cobbler's trade.


Only the best leathers obtainable in the world's tannery market are used.  The French kip used in Cutter drivers is tanned at the Simon Ullmo tannery at Lyons, France, and is imported especially for the Cutter company.  It is considered the best leather that can be procured for this class of shoes, as French kip will stand the water as no other leather will.  The French kip is used in the vamp of the Cutter shoe.  A French kip tanned hide weighs from 5 to 5½ pounds and only the heart of it is used.
Another brief internet reference:
The shoe business developed as a side product to the lumbering industry, at least, that's the way the A. A. Cutter Shoe Business started in Eau Claire in 1870. The lumberjacks demanded good shoes and had them made by Cutter. The word of his quality shoes spread as far east as Pennsylvania when a man left here and moved there to become foreman at a lumber mill. 
Photo of Cliff at Control Station 4 (Station 29) wearing his "A. A. Cutter" boots. Photo courtesy of Patterson Family:


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At the top of the Henry Clifton Patterson Salt Tram Diary, dated February 8, 1912, it states "Got Cutter Shoes". I've googled "Cutter Shoes" and can't come up with anything obvious, as far as antique work boots called "Cutter Shoes". Though some current manufactuers make a shoe called a "Cutter" shoe, it looks nothing like an antique shoe.

























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Previous Futile Discussion of "Cutter" Shoes: I've included a photo of a worker at a Salt Tram Tent Cabin that was located near Control Station 4 on the West side of the Inyos, who is wearing the most common type of work boot seen in the various historical Salt Tram photos. So I'm guessing that there is some chance that the high top leather boot might indeed be the "Cutter" shoe style. Also, since Cliff appears to have started working on the Salt Tram on 12/1/1911, perhaps he noted getting some appropriate work boots in his diary because it was a big event. Given the foul winter weather in the Inyos, it is an event that he likely looked forward to.

However, does anybody know definitively what a Cutter Boot is? (click on the photo of the 2 men wearing the boots for a closer look). Thanks!

Found this link:

http://www.hotboots.com/bootinfo/logger.html

Think that cutter shoes refer to Logging Shoes, or Log Cutters Shoes. A possibility. Nope! Update November 2010: it refers to A. A. Cutter shoes of Wisconsin.










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7 comments:

  1. Floyd "Justin" BartonFebruary 10, 2010 at 2:41 AM

    I suspect the "Cutting Shoe" reference is releted to the salt harvester cutting blade support.
    Regards,
    Justin Barton
    Bishop

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Floyd, thanks for the comment. The diary says "Got Cutter Shoes"(see scanned image above - click on it to enlarge). Also, I am unclear on your comment about the "salt harvester cutting blade support", as I am not aware of the use of a "salt harvestor". The salt was harvested by flooding the salt plain at the edges of the lake with fresh water from Hunter Spring, then letting it air dry in the boiling SV sun, then about 30 to 40 men would rake it into 3 foot high piles to further air dry in the sun, then it was shoveled into metal ore wagons and winched to the surrounding rail track and dumped into ore buckets and chain driving to the loading station bins, where it was loaded into tram carriers for its transport over the Inyos to Swansea, where it was put in a salt drier, and then grinded into various grades of salt, bagged and put in a train car. Where in this does the "salt harvestor" you describe come into play.

    Any help in this regard would be appreciated. Thanks again.
    --Tim

    ReplyDelete
  3. Also, this diary entry was February 8, 1912, when "Cliff" Patterson, the diarist, was building tram towers. Also, this diary was written in clear writing, with good to excellent grammar, punctuation, and spelling, leaving less to interpretation.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello: Cutter shoes may refer to logging shoes made by the AA Cutter company of Eau Claire Wisconsin that made logging boots from the early 1870 to at least 1923

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow, I just got to this post - thanks. Believe that you are right! Can't find ANY internet references to Cutter Shoes aka Logging Shoes, so Cutter Shoes is probably not a generic term for a style of shoe. Instead, I'm going with A. A. Cutter as the shoe supply company that is being referenced! These shoes were handmade with the best material to the highest standards of quality, and would thus be an item of great importance to someone such as Cliff who is working outside in rugged terrain and cruel weather (both hot and cold and windy). Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  6. During the great timber boom in Pocahontas County WVa, 1890-1930, all the woodhicks who could possibly afford a "Double A Cutter" would never choose a Chippawa, etc. Lee Hammons, b 1883, told me, "The Cutter's were the only ones that would 'turn' snow water. the others were pretty good about rain water, but snow water is different." the hicks in the camps were cutting enough timber to supply the Cass WVa mill that cut 2 shifts per day and 125,000 board feet of lumber per shift, 6 days a week. the train is still working hauling tourists. there may have been as many as 200 men in one of the 'company camps' on cheat mountain....

    ReplyDelete
  7. btw, an old hick instantly corrected me that the "Double A Cutter" and all others were "High top shoes!! Boots aint got no laces"!!! I never made that mistake again. as a boy in the 1950s I got ahold of a wore out pair of cutters that had the 'corks' almost totally worn off. the soles were really thick so the corks [caulks]
    could be screwed into them. I was told that when a couple of hicks would get in a fight [off the mountain], they would use those shoes to stomp someone in the chest, etc.

    ReplyDelete