‘Stewards of the forest’: Local author documents true stories of Nevada County timber industry | TheUnion.com

‘Stewards of the forest’: Local author documents true stories of Nevada County timber industry

on bookstore shelves

“From The Woods: True Tales of the Timber Industry” by Cynthia Anderson is available for purchase:

SPD Market locations

The Bookseller

B & C Ace Home & Garden Center

Paulette’s Country Kitchen

Nevada City Chamber of Commerce

Harmony Books,

Online at Amazon.com

No one was more surprised Cindi Anderson wrote a book than the author herself.

She’d never describe herself as a writer or even a reader. However when her good friend Bruce Moniz – a local log truck driver – died two years ago, she realized that many of his stories, both funny and scary, passed along with him.

That’s when she knew that the stories of local loggers and timbermen needed to be documented before it was too late.

“I looked at a picture of my ex-husband (timber faller) Ben Stringham and the words came to me: you need to write a book because these stories are going away,” Anderson explained. “I (thought) if I could get ten guys to talk to me I’ll be good. And now I am at 51.”

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After exhaustive work and hours of interviews, Anderson recently released “From The Woods: True Tales of the Timber Industry,” a collection of conversations with those who were living, eating and breathing timber in order to lead a rewarding life. For a majority of them, working in the woods wasn’t just a job. It was a way of life.

In her quest to record as much history of the Nevada County timber industry as possible, Anderson conducted extensive interviews with some of the most experienced timbermen available. They come from all different walks of life, and Anderson maintains that their stories should be preserved.

Anderson herself is no stranger to the woods.

“I was a log scaler at the saw mills and I worked with different foresters going out and marking timber and running lines,” said Anderson. “I also did forestry classes in high school and in college.”

Her experience working with timber lent Anderson a lot of credibility and trustworthiness when it came to interviewing the individuals featured on the pages of “From The Woods.”

“It’s a true heart thing with me,” she said. “I think knowing the industry and having worked in it, you have common interests. There’s a bond there. I think it’s just that (I’m not) judgmental about what they’re going to say or how they’re going to say it, and reassuring them that I’m not going to take what they say and run with it.”

Anderson involved all of the book’s subjects – a chapter devoted to each – in the process of editing, ensuring that the tales were accurate while retaining the unique voice of each participant. The stories are told on their words, with no interjection from the author.

“To keep it at what they say is a big deal because I think that really portrays who they are. And any (reader) who knows that person will say, oh that sounds just like him.”

Willie “Shotgun” Nobles has been in the timber industry since 1966, 26 of those years were spent behind the wheel of a Robinson Timber log truck. Of working on the book with Anderson he said, “I’ve known Cindi for nearly 40 years. I felt great talking to her. Very comfortable.

“And also I knew that if she started it she would finish it because she’s not one to lag. She is probably one of the hardest working women I have ever seen.”

The first print of “From The Woods” – 250 copies – sold out in three weeks and the second batch of 250 is nearly depleted.

“It’s overwhelming to see how popular (the book) is,” Anderson admitted. “I think not only in the logging community but in the historic community because now logging is like the gold mining was. It’s gone and it’s too bad someone wasn’t able to do the same thing with the gold mining community. Those stories are going away and the only way to preserve them is to do something like this.”

Anderson’s experience was so rewarding a second edition of the book is in the works with new interview subjects as well as a photo book which she hopes will display some of the nearly 1,500 photographs she received from the participants of “From The Woods.”

Anderson wants readers to simply enjoy the book and acknowledge the hard work put forth by those involved.

“These guys are intelligent human beings who have survived tremendous accidents and just work every day,” she said. “I’d like for people to read it and get something out of it or realize what these guys go through.

“It’s not an eight-to-five job. They are gone from home a lot of times. It’s not just a job to them, it’s a way of life. They had the manpower and they were stewards of the forest, more than anything.”

Jennifer Nobles is a freelance writer based in Grass Valley. She can be reached at jenkrisnobles@gmail.com.

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