‘Average person couldn’t tell’
Bill Black, a retired district ranger for the Cohutta District (now Conasauga District) of the Forest Service in Chatsworth, knew and worked with Boatwright, Ray Tankersley and Grady Witherow. He was asked what he thought it would be like to work just one day on the logging crews.
“Tough,” he replied with a smile. “Just think about building a railroad back in those mountains. So much of it was just hard work.”
He was asked if any of the work from the heyday of logging in the Cohuttas could still be seen.
“The average person couldn’t tell there was any logging done,” he said. “Everything is grown back up. But some of the trails still walk down the old railroad grades, and if you look close you can find some old rotting crossties and even rails. Some of the old railroad wheels are still up there.”
He noted Boatwright, who was born in 1899, would have lived in three centuries if he had lived just one more month. Boatwright died sometime in early December 1999, he recalled. Black said some of the hemlock trees along Jacks River, which were useless for commercial purposes, may date back to the 1700s.