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Gill Pokes and Gin Poles

Gill Poke

There is a laconic definition of a Gin Poke, “Lumberjack Lingo for swinging boom used to poke logs off cars at a log dump. Same as a gin pole” but precious little in the way of information and pictures are rarer than hen’s teeth. Club member Hank Simonson told us that several log ponds up and down the Mendocino Coast had them and he remembered the one at Caspar in particular.

The Bancroft Library has thousands (literally) of old photos on their site. Alas, unless you just plough through them there is no way to locate specific items. The title of the picture below was disarming, “Unloading device of Mendocino Lumber Company on Big River. June 1923”. But, this was just the type of “unloading device” that Hank described as a Jill Poke.

In Google books there is the full text of a book(?) entitled, “Department Bulletins, Numbers 701-725 from the Department of Agriculture”. Based on the typeface it was published in in the 1920’s or 1930’s – we couldn’t find a “proper” publication date. Therein is a whole section devoted to “Gill Pokes” starting on page 233. There are even diagrams and instructions to help you build one.