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Tumult on the Mountains


The book Tumult on the Mountains: Lumbering in West Virginia 1770–1920, published in 1964, was written by Roy B. Clarkson, a native of the lumber town of Cass. Also the author of a history of Cass, On Beyond Leatherbark (1990), Clarkson worked at the large sawmill operation in Cass before earning a Ph.D. from West Virginia University and beginning his career as a professor of biology.

Tumult on the Mountains is a West Virginia best-seller, with more than 20,000 copies in print. The book covers the West Virginia forests from the first written accounts of George Washington in 1770 to the eventual depletion of all but a few isolated stands of virgin forest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although primarily a pictorial history, the book has an extensive text that describes the plant and animal life of the early wilderness, the pioneers’ impact on the land, and the coming of the timber industry to the mountains, including the impact of new technology in sawmills and railroads. Above all, Tumult on the Mountains is a detailed look at life in the timber camps, through photographs and interviews with loggers. It includes 257 full-page pictures from the time period. The book also includes a glossary of logging terms, a map of logging boom towns (many of which no longer exist), and an extensive bibliography.

Written by LeAnna Alderman


  1. Clarkson, Roy B. Tumult on the Mountains: Lumbering in West Virginia 1770-1920. Parsons: McClain, 1964.