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4729th Air Defense Group

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

4729th Air Defense Group
Air Defense Command.png
324th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron - North American F-86D-40-NA Sabre - 52-3841.jpg
Active 1957–1958
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Fighter Interceptor
Role Air Defense
Part of Air Defense Command

The 4729th Air Defense Group is a discontinued United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with the Boston Air Defense Sector at Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts, where it was discontinued in 1958.

The group was formed to provide a single command and support organization for the two fighter interceptor squadrons of Air Defense Command, that were tenants at Westover, a Strategic Air Command (SAC) base. It was also assigned a maintenance squadron to perform aircraft maintenance. It was discontinued after the 324th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron moved in 1958, leaving only a single fighter squadron at Westover.

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- [Voiceover] Your support helps us bring you programs you love. Go to, click on Support, and become a sustaining member or an annual member. It's easy and secure. Thank you! - [Voiceover] Basically, they were young men when they left the Scandinavian area, hoping to earn their fortune in America. - [Voiceover] You learn to get along with other people that you had to work with, and you learn to work. - [Voiceover] The most difficult part of that whole drive, was getting that 15 miles to what we call the canyon. - [Voiceover] Just think of the people, to see all them ties stacked down to Riverton. There wasn't any trucks or anything then. How'd they get there? (chuckling) - [Voiceover] It was one of the better jobs, you know, an experience of a lifetime. (majestic orchestral music) - Hello. I'm Joe Brandl. Around the turn of the century, when Americans were still pushing west into the open spaces, a vast new network of railroads moved people and commerce across the continent. To lay the tracks and maintain them, you needed wooden ties to support the rails. Millions of them. Wherever the railroads went, the builders sought pine and cypress, and other big trees in the nearby forest. The southern Appalachians, the Mississippi Valley, and in the west, where the rails inched across the treeless plains, they looked to Wyoming's mountainous forest. They looked to the rivers to bring the hewn timbers down on huge springtime tie drives. Beginning in 1868, they brought ties from Sherman Mountain, down the Laramie River, and then further west, down the Medicine Bow River. Before long, tie camps were springing up across the state. Encampment, Saratoga. To the west, below Evanston, and as far north as Sheridan. But the biggest production would come from the high country, of the Absaroka and Wind River Mountains. It was here, between in 1914 and 1946, that tie hacks produced over 10 million ties. The railroads were binding the young nation together, and the work was being done by newcomers. And the job fell to the Wyoming Tie and Timber Company. - [Voiceover] Mike Olson, who was the superintendent of the company, he came from Norway, where he had his start in a lumber, or timber, operation. He obviously had to have been one of the smartest men in the world, as far as I can tell, to have thought up and figured out how to get those ties out of the woods. - [Brandl] Olson and his men faced two important tasks, transforming the green timber into railroad ties, and then, getting those ties out of the wilderness and downstream to the railroad. For the first part of that job, the company built its headquarters high in the Wind River Mountains. Then they brought in skilled woodsman from the old country. Men who could live in rugged conditions, work through the harsh winter, and hand hew ties with a broadax. Modern machinery has replaced the men who cut the trees in those days. But 100 years ago, swinging a broadax was both a skill and an art. Often, they worked from daylight to dark. They were paid by the piece. The more ties you made, the more wages you earned. It was just that simple. How hard was the work? Let's watch Ken Miller. This looks like it would be a good tree. We can several good ties out of this one. (ax chopping) (lively fiddle music) (ax chopping) (metallic sawing) Timber! (ax chopping) Next thing we have to do is score the log on both sides. I'll be hitting the top with the first swing, underneath with the second swing, so when I come with the broadax, I can use that exactly perpendicular to make as smooth a surface as possible. So, on the top. On the bottom. Move forward four to six inches, top, bottom. (ax chopping) As you move toward the base of the tree, you have to go deeper, so when you're done, the tie is still a little over seven inches thick. Now, if you did it all the time in one shape, you could go one side and come back the other, without having to stop and breathe. On a broadax, one side is completely, is completely flat. There's no angles, no arcs, no anything. It's completely flat. That's the side that goes to the tree, to make the shape of it as smooth as possible. The other side, you can see, it's wedged out, and as it goes in behind all these little chips that are hanging on there, where it was scored, then, it just pops those off. Sometimes it just takes off a little bit at a time. Sometimes it goes quite a ways. Now, this is where you have to be careful, where your toe sticks out. Like if the toe's stuck out here, and you have five, six, seven pounds come against it with some force, off goes the end of your shoes and your toes. That's where three-toe Ol' E came in. (lively fiddle music) (ax chopping) (wood splitting) The next step after both sides are, pretty much, smoothed out, is to peel the bark off the top and the bottom. We'll start with the top, and this is a tool called a spud, which is just an extra large wood chisel, is what it is. With this being a green tree, the bark peels off. If you get right under the bark it peels off real easy. (wood snapping) (tool scraping) The next step will be to measure off the ties to eight foot lengths, and then cut 'em with this one-man saw. (lively fiddle music) (wood sawing) The next step is to roll the tie over, so we can peel the other side. Once you've cut the eight foot lengths, it's not so hard to do that. The tool I'm using here is called a cant hook. (tool scraping) - The tie hacks usually worked all winter. Shoveling snow. Shovel out around the trees to get 'em sawed down. We really had to work hard for the wages. - [Voiceover] I would guess 150 ax men around, not counting the teamsters. I helped Andy Kruzik. He was a teamster but he didn't have any haulin', so he went to choppin'. And by gosh, that guy, he never stopped. He just was felling, and limbing, and scoring them trees. I worked behind him, peeling, sawing, and I think we got 48, 48 ties, with me helping. Which was a hell of a good day. - If it was myself, if I got eight ties, or ten ties, I was doing pretty good, cause I was fairly young then, and learning. But most of 'em, they cut between 20 and 30 ties a day. Anywhere from 21 cents for the smallest tie, which is a nine inch top, to 30 or 31 cents a piece, if I remember right. - But I think some of 'em made eight, ten dollars a day, maybe. Which, hell, that was pretty good money, by gosh, in them days. 'Cause when I started workin', I was workin' for a dollar a day on a ranch for a number of years. Alfred Olson, he was a tie inspector, well, he graded all the ties. He went round from strip to strip. And they knew, he knew who's strip that was. He counted them ties out to that fella that had that strip. Turned that into Trigo. They marked whatever ties he had for that, usually every month. So, when a guy wanted to go to town, have some money, he went to Trigo, and got whatever he wanted. Fifteen, 20, or 50 dollars or what. The teamsters were usually company men. The teamsters had two or three teams of these 1200, 1400, 1600 pound horses. That's the way they moved the ties down to the landing, where they was going to drive them. Which up there, Big Warren, was all the way up from the head of the flume, way up there toward South Fork there, them ties were lined. You can see pictures of 'em. - The story of the Wyoming tie hack is an important part of our Wyoming history, and because of Wyoming's public television's commitment to local programming, you're able to watch and enjoy this program. So, I hope you'll take a moment, and call in your pledge of support to Wyoming public television. Help us continue the tradition of great local programming. - [Brandl] Many of the tie hacks had come from Europe, and come to stay, along with their families, who joined them in the high country. - [Voiceover] It was at a time of immigration into the United States. - [Stork] Many of them had come to this country, leaving their wife or a child overseas, and they were all trying to save enough money to send for their families. My dad had come when I was just a baby. He came to an aunt in North Dakota, and he was thinking life would be much easier in this country, because the Depression had started in Norway. But when he came here, the depression went full force also. So, it took him 10 years to save money to bring us over here. So, as far as meeting my dad, he was a stranger. - [Voiceover] I remember Ingabourg telling me that when she and her mother arrived, they couldn't understand their father. He had learned to speak English, in the meantime, and it was sort of a mixture of English and Norwegian, and he didn't speak the whole language as much as they remembered. - [Stork] We came by boat to New York. We entered the Statue of Liberty. We had name tags on our coats, saying who we were and where we were going. They put us on a train to go to Chicago, where we were met by my dad, and then, we came to Riverton by train, and we drove up to the tie camp. Dad had made arrangements for me to board out during the week, to go to school, because they were living in the logging camp. So, I boarded with them, with some people, and went to school. I did not know a word of English, so it was quite an experience. When I'd come home, my mother would want to know what words did you learn in English this week. She was very interested in learning how to speak and understand the English language. - [Clayton] Those years on the mountain, we were snowed in. We would have had to ski off, or be sledded off. Once in a while, they could keep the roads open with a bulldozer. - [Stork] They usually kept a car or two at the bottom of the hill, in case there was an emergency, if someone had to go to the hospital in Riverton or Lander. - [Clayton] But you had to ski to school in the winter, cause we lived down by the river, and you had to go up this hill, and you'd have to ski because the snow was too deep to walk. Then you had all these books, so you couldn't use poles, you had to pack them books, you didn't have backpacks and all that in those days. - For a woman, it was plain hard work. One of the stories I tell in my book, from Shirley Daniels, of raising a baby out in the woods. She was in one of the outlying camps. And the baby waking up in the middle of the night, and she'd have to get up, and chip the ice to get enough water to heat the formula for the baby. You know? That's pretty rough. Those were hard days. There's no doubt about that. - [Brandl] With so many tie hacks and their families living in such isolation, there had to be a support system. - [Turner] At one time, they had used the big cookhouse in headquarters, when the men lived in the bunkhouse, when they were first cutting near there. But then, as the years went on, they moved the cutting, the cutting was all farther away, it was too far away for the men to live in headquarters. So there'd be outlying camps all around, and there was always a cookhouse in each of the camps. And the men could bunk by themselves if they wanted to, and cook, but most of them preferred to eat in the cookhouse. - [Clayton] You know, you made your own fun. You didn't have a car, or anything like that. You were a hundred miles from Riverton. We didn't go to doctors or anything. You just got well or died. You didn't have radio, or television, or any of that stuff, you didn't know what was going on in the world. That was nice. - But we played games in the schoolyard, and in the wintertime, you skied to school. We called it going to school. Now they call it cross-country skiing. At recess, we outside and skied on the hill. At noon, we went home and had lunch and skied back. Then recess again, and then after school it was take our stuff home, ski home, and then go out and ski. - You didn't have a car to drive whenever you wanted to go two miles, or a mile, so it was nice. One thing, you learned to work. You had to work for what you got. You had to saw the wood by hand, and cut it, and pack it in, and all that sort of stuff. And everybody was poor. There wasn't anybody that had more than the other, so you didn't have to worry about keeping up with the Joneses or anything. It was nice to live up there, and everybody was friendly. Anybody in need, everybody pitched in and helped. It was just altogether different. Then they had this store, it had quarters, you know. They had this, they called it an icehouse, and they had ice in there that kept the meat, and they had those big rings of sausages and stuff. They had sawdust on the floor. That guy, the old butcher, or the man that was running the store, I know when we were kids, he'd take us in there, and he'd slice a piece of that good salami, and give you a piece of that, and cheeses and things. That's the way they had it, and then people could come and buy in the store. And, you know, the bananas came on a big rack, and you didn't have a lot of fruit or anything. You got oranges or apples once in awhile, that was a big treat. - And when the holidays came, they were appreciated. All the hard work, all the hard weather, all the distance between Wyoming and the old country, gave way to joyous celebrations and traditions, still remembered fondly. - [Turner] They did a lot of dancing in the old cookhouse. So, that was the gathering place for all of the parties and the dances. They'd come of out of the woods, out of their camps to come down for the big Christmas parties. - At the end of the dinner, they would push the tables and the benches back by the wall, and the Matson brothers both played accordions. They played for everybody to dance. They danced till the wee hours of the morning, and it was daylight by the time we went back home. And I thought, this is different than any Christmas I have ever spent. But we had a wonderful time. - One of the things I remember the most about the school Christmas party, almost always the kids gave a play for the community or, what, 20 people, whatever we had, at the cookhouse. Then the Wyoming Tie and Timber company gave every employee's kid a wonderful box. And I remember this huge, big, huge box, full of presents. Lydia Olson and, I probably assume, Louise Van Meter did it too, shopped for gifts for each of the kids, individual gifts for each of the kids, ahead of time. And that was our wonderful Christmas present every year. - [Brandl] Spring arrived, but the job was only half done. The next phase involved an extraordinary journey. - Well, the way it worked, the full year-round tie hacks were working up there all winter long. They would both hew them with their broadaxes, and then they, later on, put up portable sawmills where they went up into the woods above Dunior, and up Warm Springs Creek, and prepared all these ties and stacked them right along the edge of the tributaries to the Big Wind River. Mainly little Warm Springs and Dunior. Then, when it came time for the drive, that's when they beefed up their crew. Hired maybe 40, 45, 50 men more, went in there, and that's when the drive started. - There were no roads, no trucks, and no rails in the high country. So the ties were assembled in the high valley in the Wind River Range, and pushed into a stream. They were funneled by flumes down the steepest part of the canyon, and then, to the Big Wind River. Which took them to the treatment plant in Riverton. There were really two drives. - [Goodman] The first one was up on Warm Springs Canyon Creek. That's where all the ties were brought to one location. There were flumes, and smaller flumes, during the high water, and that whole Warm Springs Valley was literally filled with ties. So, the first day, you had to work on the front of that great big pile of ties that went up the river probably three or four miles, and start pulling the ties out of that big jam, and into the river. It was usually just the hard work of pulling the ties off of that big pile, into that little creek, Warm Springs Creek, and sending down the flume. That was day after day for about almost three weeks, it took for that drive. - [Seipt] We lined 'em up to enter the flume so that they were spaced, and not riding up on one another, so they'd fly out of the flume. Fifty cents an hour, nine hours a day, seven days a week, as good a food that could be had. As long as you're young and stupid, it was great. - Setting up camp first, up on the upper Warm Springs Creek, that was cold there. Nights especially. So, we had tepees we set up, on poles so they could raise them with poles, and usually had a couple of stakes outside to hang your boots on upside-down, so they would dry at night, and so forth, and put our socks in. So, we camped along the River all the way down. - [Seipt] You furnished your own boots. The boots were dry boots. Heavy thick soles, heavy thick uppers, came about half way up the calf of your leg. They were lace boots. Most of them had, what do you call 'em, hobnails, or corks, or whatever. They were stuck in the bottom of the sole, and they stuck out a quarter of an inch, as a gripper, like chains. - One river drive, I didn't have a tepee, so I just rolled a bedroll right on the ground. I didn't care too much about how rough it was, because after working nine hours on the river, we were tired, and I slept through the night without waking up regardless of any rocks or anything else. That was our camping and sleeping situation. - [Seipt] A typical day started early. Started with taking down your tepee and poles, and rolling it up, taking it over to where they'd load down the trucks to move to the next camp. Breakfast, and then exactly at 8 o'clock, Alfred Olson would holler, "Oh", and everybody got in the trucks and went to work. If the campsite was available at noon, we came in at noon for lunch. Sometimes it was remote, and lunch was brought down by boat. - I always wanted to be on a tie drive, but I thought I was a little bit too little. I only weighed about 120 pounds, but I was determined to try. So, I drove all the way from Riverton, up to Martin Olson's cabin, and when I drove up to the cabin, he came out on the porch and said, "Who do you want?" It kind of scared me. I thought he go gruff. Anyway, he looked me up and down, and said, "Well, you're awful little, but you're young enough, maybe you'll do, go and sign up. So, I was happy that I finally got onto the tie drive, after many years of looking forward to it. The year was 1937. - The year I was on, in 1942, was the early years of World War II, and there were three kinds of people on the tie drive. There was a contingent of Indians, that had been on the drive before, and some first timers. Then there was a group of Scandinavians, the tie hacks themselves, who really knew how to work the ties and handle them. Then, to fill out the crew, McLaughlin, Martin, and Alfred Olson hired a bunch of us. I was a recent high school graduate, and there were a few college kids there, they probably hired on about 20 of us schoolboys, so to speak, to beef up the crew. The arrivin' up there, we, uh floated down 350,000 ties, which was medium size tie drive, and I remember, first thing, we'd get up there just about dark, and the first thing they told me to do, was to go out back of this little cabin, and they had pike poles, as they were called. - They showed us a pile of spruce saplings, with the bark on, and they were only eight to ten feet long. They had a pike, which consisted of a point and a hook, like this, hand-forged, and three rings. So, you took the pikes and those rings, and you made your own pike pole. - As you can see, this hook here is so you could push the ties, and this hook here, is such that you could hook them and pull them toward you. - Don't go away. We'll have more of the tie hack story in just a few minutes. But right now, I hope you'll take a moment to call in your support to Wyoming public television, so that more local programming can be produced, for Wyoming audiences. - [Brandl] The journey that began in the Warm Springs Valley, continued through a steep canyon. To do that, a flume was constructed that was as tall and twisting as a Coney Island roller coaster. It was a key link in the system, that brought the ties off the mountain. - Of course, they had the big flume along the side of Warm Springs Creek there, and that was one of the engineering marvels of the state. - The flume was a V-shaped, made of boards, waterway. Olson and Van Meter supervised the building of the flume, from the head of the flume near the bridge, through the big Warm Springs Canyon natural bridge, down to and into the river, at the Nobarison place. - The flume was several years old by 1942, and the planks had shrunk as they dried out. So, there was a crack in two or three places about an inch or half-inch thick. So, they had some of us try to seal those cracks by shoveling dirt in the flume, and they were hoping the mud would seal it off. My job, at the upper end of the flume, was to hook the ties as they started to pile up into the flume, with my pike pole, and run along the catwalk, encouraging them to go on down the creek. Then they dumped out into the pool in Warm Springs, and then went on down into the river. It was quite a feat. - I think it was unique. Where it was necessary, it hung from the walls of the canyon. Where it could be it was on trestles. The curves were such that the ties didn't build up momentum, and fly out, and it worked. The flume went through the natural bridge. It was kind of hairy, because there wasn't room to stand upright. Nor was there room for a catwalk, so when you went through the flume, you kind of monkey walked, a hand and foot on one side, and a hand and foot on the other, for a distance to where there was room enough again. About two miles up from the river end of it, was a flume camp, with three or four guys in it, who monitored the ties coming down. They kept track, if there was a space, obviously there was some problem upstream, and they notified the head end, so they stopped feeding ties in. The biggest problem, and that wasn't really a difficult problem, once in a while, a light tie would ride up on the tie ahead of it, and then when it went around the corner, the momentum would throw it out of the flume. But, that was 100 or 200 ties in a drive. It wasn't a big problem. But there was a crew monitoring the flow of ties. - Now it was time for the most dramatic part of the process. Hundreds of thousands of ties, over 600,000 in 1925, all poised to take a wild ride down the Wind River. The water churned, the ties rolled, and the men guided them down, poking, pulling, and dancing. 100, 200 men, and a big piece of the forest, floating down the stream. It was a nine mile journey by flume. It ended where the Warm Springs joins the Wind River. About nine miles upstream from Dubois. It was July now. Quite a change of season from the cold winter days, when the men were out in the woods, cutting trees. As the ties came into the river from the Warm Springs flume, another batch from the Absaroka Mountains, floated down Dunior Creek from the east. Stacked along the bank of the river were more ties, cut a lower elevations. - [Voiceover] It may have went on down as a tributary of the Big Wind, and all merging together to come down the stream. - Second phase after all the ties were dumped in by the flume into the Wind River, about nine miles above Dubois, then we started the main river drive, and most of the ties, at that time, were hung up on the sides, on the banks, or on the rocks, or trees. And our job was to keep standing in the water, pulling them back into the river, day after day. That was the upper part of the river was easier to go, but after you got down below Dubois, in the canyon, it was very difficult to get through that canyon. - The most dramatic thing, which I'm sure you encountered in some of the movies, was when you get a jam, and the ties will start backing up for miles. And have tens of thousands of ties all piled up and not moving. - They had a special crew of people who were agile and knew how to handle it, who broke up the jams. Generally, the jams occurred in Fish Canyon. There's some boulders in there, it's narrow, and it's fast water, that they had a crew of four, five guys that were the jam pullers that kept that open. You just simply, as a matter of keeping the ties moving downstream, you either worked in the back eddies, pulled them back into the main stream, or if they were piled up, you pulled them in, herding ties downstream. - [Brandl] They worked a nine hour day on the ice cold snow melt river, wrestling with heavy ties that got heavier, as they soaked up the water. Amazingly, in 30 years of tie drives, no one was killed, but boy, they did get hungry. - The food is the thing that stayed in my mind as being the best thing. That was a three-times-a-day experience. And that kept us going, and I think I remember that probably more than any other thing. The cook was Adolph Solomon, and he was noted to be, probably the best outdoor cook in maybe the whole world, as far as I'm concerned. In the morning, breakfast consisted of pancakes. The pancakes were mixed up in a big washtub, they took, 15 dozen eggs were put in first, and there were other ingredients, flour and so forth, and they're always light and fluffy, put on a big grill over the fire, open fire, and we had some of the best pancakes. Then, they always had a whole Dutch oven full of bacon, fried just right, another Dutch oven full of sausages, link sausage. Then there were a couple of Dutch ovens full of scrambled eggs. And anything else that went with it, the syrup and everything that went with it, so we had the fabulous breakfast everyday. Never failed, all the way down. The breakfasts were especially good. They gave us a good start, and we needed a good start, because it was from 6 and 7 o'clock until noon before we'd eat again. When we were down at the red rocks, where the camp was visible to tourists, some people would stop in to see what's all that about? Adolph always fed them. When your tie drivers were through eating, there was plenty of food left over, and you can eat all you want. - Team from Riverton was going up the 35 miles to Diversion Dam, and sort of welcoming the tie hacks coming down the creek. That was another popular place to go see the ties coming down the river, cause they were all jammed up behind Diversion Dam. It also was a nice place to set up the iron kettles, and you got a free meal off Wyoming Tie and Timber. - It was never a smooth ride down the river. There were twists and turns, rocks and boulders. The tie hacks made it through Fish Canyon, a natural obstacle. Then they encounter Diversion Dam. Erected in 1921 to divert water from the Wind River, into the irrigation system. This, of course, reduced the amount of flow into the river, which exposed rocks, sandbars, cottonwood snags. This slowed down the tie drive. - Most of the water from Diversion Dam is being diverted down the winding canal. So, at tie drive time, the water going over the dam might be only an inch or two deep over the dam, and, or course, the ties would come down, and they wouldn't clear the dam. So they had a whole string of us stationed at the dam with pike poles, big long poles like I was telling you about here. You would just lift the front end of the tie enough to start it over the dam, and then it would go ahead over the dam, and go on down the river. But the Diversion Dam was a full-blown obstacle, and all 350,000, a few of them might have gone over, but they all had to be lifted an inch or two to clear the dam, so they could go on downriver. - Getting them over the Diversion Dam was quite a problem. The ties were backed up in that basin for miles. And I thought, "How in the world they ever get that over that dam." I found out that basin pretty well filled with silt. So, we were about ankle deep in silt, and the water was about up to our armpits. And we're able to walk along in that silt, and push these ties ahead of us and gradually push 'em over the dam, feeling along with our feet and so forth. And I guess that's the thing that I remember the most, because it probably was one of the most challenging things. After we got down below Diversion Dam, where the river spread out, we had to carry ties as much as two or three blocks away from the river. One day, we spent all day, nearly 100 men, all day carrying one big pile of ties on our shoulders, back to the river again. - You worked in crews where two guys loaded, and about three other crews of two carried. The loaders would lift the ties up and put 'em on your shoulder, and you walked lock-stepped to the river and dumped 'em in, and came back for another load. That was hard work. It was difficult work. - The closest call I had was coming within a breath of drowning. A big tree had fallen down across the river, was right out into the stream, and as the ties came down, there had been a whirlpool created by this tree out into the river, and there was a whole bunch of ties, 100 or so were stuck out there. I decided I would ride out into this whirlpool, and pull these ties out into the main stream, and get 'em on down the river. Well, I got out there and in the milling around there I fell out my little homemade tie boat, and I was hangin' onto a tie out there, and getting more and more tired. One of the fellows on the drive, Victor Montoya, saw my plight, and I could still remember him wading out into the water, and it was deep there in that whirlpool, he was just about up to his chin, and he stuck out his pike pole, which I got a hold of and pulled me over to the shore. Otherwise, I might have been a casualty of the drive. - As it dropped down from the mountains to the high plain, the Wind River slowed and meandered. Soon the railroad bridge was in sight. The tie hacks had been weeks on the river, travelling over 100 miles. Now came some of the hardest work of all, getting the ties out of the river, and stacking them at the tie plant. Billy McLaughlin was in charge of the tie yards. He'd built an ingenious boom of logs on cables that was angled into the river, and the ties would go cross-ways cross those. And the ties jammed some three or four miles up the river. But the ties were funneled down two channels, side-by-side, so the two different conveyor belts, two levels, would pick up these ties, and take 'em up on conveyor belts. - It would take 'em up one behind the other, and then as they got up to the height of the conveyor going down to where the tie yards were, they'd turn, and they had a guy helping them make that turn there. But the ties were stacked 14 ties high, and as they came along, wherever you were working, they had a little deal that kicked them off, so they would jump off this conveyor belt, and then your job was to stack three piles, one, two, three, away from the conveyor belt. - The two of us would have to pile 360 ties in one hour. That meant a tie had to be handled every 10 seconds. Then you had to be out of the way and get them straight. - One day when I was totally exhausted, pretty late in the afternoon, after I'd worked all day, I was hitting a tie just at the moment Gene Law put his boot out there. So, I pinned him to the tie, but luck was with me. The pickaroon tooth went right between his big toe and his next toe. He didn't even bleed. A lucky miss on my part there. - From there, they dried and they were loaded onto dinky cars, pulled by a little dinky engine, and put into a huge retort and treated with creosote to make them last longer. - The rest of the crew, well, they headed into Riverton. To celebrate, and spend their hard-earned money. - Of course, the end of tie drive in Riverton, was a time of great celebration for the tie hacks. They looked forward to the end of their year cycle. A big celebration. The saloons and the entertainment houses were ready for them of course, and sometimes they would come to the end of their week of time there, all their money gone, happy cause they had a great time, and go back and start the cycle over again. - Riverton had a house of ill-repute, which was a very popular stopping place for the tie hacks. We'd been there all winter long, and now we're coming down the river. Some of the ladies, and the mothers of the community thought that was a pretty nice thing because these wild tie hacks wouldn't be out there pursuing their daughters, or their sisters, or their aunts, or whatever it was. I'm sure that the Little Yellow House, as it was called, did quite a booming business after the tie hacks came to town after months in the woods and weeks on the river. - The local office is where the Elks Club is now. There was free beer, and that night there was a dance up above the office. Went up and down the street honking their horns, the trucks they hauled us in. When they were broke, they put 'em on the wagon and took 'em back up to the woods, and they prepared for another trip to Riverton. - The men were part of the family, and so, whatever was needed, the company took care of. It was particularly noticable in the waning years of the Wyoming Tie and Timber company, because by then we had a lot of old timers, old time tie hacks, who couldn't do much out in the woods. But there was one camp we called the old man's camp, and that's where the ones who would really be retired could live for as long as they wanted to. And if they wanted to go out and chop down a tie, they could do that, chop down a tree and make a tie. But they didn't have to. They weren't expected to. - [Brandl] Mechanization replaced many of the woodsman's skills. The winters in 1940 were much more severe. It got harder to find men willing to live and work so much of the year in the woods. In 1947, less than 100,000 ties were cut, and they were loaded onto trucks, not floated down the river. For one generation, the broadax sang and carved with precision, and then it was over. (pensive orchestral music)



The 4729th Air Defense Group was established to provide a headquarters for the two Air Defense Command (ADC) Fighter-Interceptor Squadrons (FIS) stationed at Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts,[1] a Strategic Air Command (SAC) base. SAC's 814th Air Base Group acted as host organization for the base.[2]

The group was assigned the 324th FIS and 337th FIS, flying radar equipped and rocket armed North American F-86D Sabre aircraft[3][4] as its operational components,[5][6] to provide air defense of New England. These squadrons were already stationed at Westover and had been assigned to the Boston Air Defense Sector.[5][6] In August, maintenance for the two fighter squadrons was combined in the 603rd Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (CAMS), which was activated at Westover.[7] The 324th FIS and 337th FIS upgraded to newer model Sabres with data link for interception control through the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment system in the fall of 1957.[3][4] In the spring of 1958, the 337th FIS converted to Lockheed F-104 Starfighter aircraft.[3]

The group was discontinued when the 324th FIS departed for Morocco, leaving only a single operational ADC squadron at Westover.[1][5] The 603rd CAMS was also inactivated, while the 337th FIS was then assigned directly to the Boston Air Defense Sector.[6][7]


  • Designated and organized as: 4729th Air Defense Group on 8 July 1957
Discontinued on 25 June 1958


  • Boston Air Defense Sector, 8 July 1957 – 25 June 1958[1]


  • Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts, 8 July 1957 – 25 June 1958


  • 324th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 8 July 1957 – 25 June 1958
  • 337th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 8 July 1957 – 25 June 1958
  • 603rd Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 8 August 1957 - 8 February 1958[7]


  • North American F-86D Sabre 1957
  • North American F-86L Sabre 1957-1958
  • Lockheed F-104A Starfighter 1958

See also



  1. ^ a b c Cornett & Johnson, p. 89
  2. ^ Mueller, pp. 578, 582-583
  3. ^ a b c Cornett & Johnson, p. 125
  4. ^ a b Cornett & Johnson, p. 127
  5. ^ a b c Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 399
  6. ^ a b c Maurer, p.417
  7. ^ a b c Cornett & Johnson, p.142


Further Reading

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