In a sign of solidarity by loggers, more than 300 logging trucks rolled into Darby, Mont., in May 1988 to deliver about 1 million board feet of logs. Beginning in the late 1980s, a series of harassing legal actions against the Forest Service by environmental groups forced the Service to cancel its sales of timber, causing the nearly complete collapse of the industry. One by one, mills closed their doors.
A bunch of logging companies and sawmills were donating these, and the logging trucks were on their way to donate all the logs to keep Darby Lumber running.
The truck count into Darby was 303. Organizers expected about 220 logging trucks would take part in the Great Northwest Log Haul when it started rolling out of Libby headed for the wood-strapped Darby Lumber Co. The convoy stretched for 15 miles. It provided enough logs to keep the mill running about three weeks.
Organizers of the Great Northwest Log Haul claimed the Darby mill was shut down because of excessive environmentalist challenges to Forest Service timber sales.
Hoyt Axton was the entertainment that night. Darby Lumber paid for the logs, the logs were whatever loads anyone could come up with. Kids were let out of school and Paul Harvey talked about it on his radio show. High schoolers volunteered to wash the rigs
This log haul was organized by sawmill co-owner James Hurst
Years later, he hit on a plan for hauling several truckloads of shovels to Elko, Nev., to protest U.S. Forest Service road closings, it was called the Jarbidge Shovel Brigade.
He had heard of a situation in Elko County, Nev., where the Forest Service was refusing to repair a public road in Inyo-Humboldt National Forest, near the minute town of Jarbidge, and indeed had even blocked access with boulders and debris.
Residents of the county were outraged and tried to open it, only to be blocked by court action.
When Hurst learned that the people had tried to open that road with shovels, but were stopped - that what was going on there was what was going on in Eureka he contacted the county commissioners in Elko and offered to bring a few shovels as a symbolic gesture.
He ended up bringing over 11,000 that people had donated. He called them Shovels for Solidarity. Some were used that July 4 to open the road in Jarbidge Canyon.
“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” says Mike Nannini, one of the four and a truck stop owner from Wells, Nev. “We intend to do everything we can to help call attention to the need to revise federal forest policies.”
Nannini credits Hurst with making it possible for the county to reclaim the Jarbidge Canyon road.
“We got our road back,” he says, “But had it not been for Jim Hurst and his Shovels for Solidarity and the national attention we received, the Forest Service would have never backed down. The road would still be closed.”
Four of Elko County’s five commissioners are expected in Eureka, bringing with them 500 shovels, plus the 13-foot-high shovel — embellished with the names of 9,000 sympathizers — that has stood upright in front of the courthouse in the city of Elko since erected last year.