Podcast | How giant tree stumps inspired a Northwest craze

During the timber boom, opportunists turned the remains of old-growth trees into homes and postcard spectacles.

Archival image of a stump house with a family

The famous stump house on the Lennstrom farm near Edgecomb, Wash. (Whatcom Museum)

The timber boom of the early 20th century reshaped both the places and the population of the Pacific Northwest. At one point, 63 percent of wage earners in Washington were drawing a paycheck from the industry that was felling the old-growth forests to produce lumber and profits.

The remains of those trees – their massive, imposing stumps – served as a kind of cultural signifier for the people and an inspiration for their creativity and ingenuity. Images of stumps as homes, dance floors and stages for feats of derring-do proliferated. 

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Crosscut's resident historian Knute Berger told the story of these gargantuan stumps in a recent episode of his Mossback's Northwest video series, but there is much more to explore. 

For this episode of the Mossback podcast, Berger and co-host Stephen Hegg talk about the outsized influence of these stumps on the region’s early settlers. They discuss the reasons the stumps were so high, the photographers who made them famous and the long-term effects of the destruction that created them.


About the Hosts

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.

Stephen Hegg

Stephen Hegg

Stephen is formerly a senior video producer at Crosscut and KCTS 9. He specialized in arts and culture.