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Snagging Crew on the Ouachita River in early 1900s

Snagging Logs on the Ouachita River From the early 1700's, when the first large boats began to come up the Ouachita, there has been one formidable obstacle to boats that consistantly posed a problem. This obstacle has been the snags and logs found in great numbers all up and dow the river. Some of the earliest explorers noted that great amounts of log jams caused by fallen trees and logs coming downriver during high water were prevelant all along the Ouachita. It was noted that in certain areas along the river, especially at high banks along the waters edge, large trees would cave into the river and sometimes be standing upright in the middle of the river. In time, these trees woul catch all of the debris floating downriver and block the entire width of the Ouachita. Log jams posed a problem to small boats and were even dangerous to the large steamboars that began to ply the Ouachita in the early 1800's. Many logs and large limbs floating just below the waters surface proved disasterous to the wood hulls of the early steamboats plying the Ouachita. Many steamboats went to the bottom of the Ouachita because their hulls were damaged by these obsticles. The problem with snags and logs in the river was first tackled in the late 1800's and early 1900's. This era saw the first "snagger" boats appear on the Ouachita. The boats were crude wood barges with a crew of four or five men who searched for sunken logs and floating debris. They floated the Ouachita manually removing los and snagsusing only a hand turned winch and a lift pole to pull the debris from the river. It was hard laborious work that earned the crew the proud name of "snaggers|".


Snagging Boat of the Mid 1900s

By the 1920's large boats with hugh cranes, to lift the logs from the river, were brought to the Ouachita to replace the smaller "snagger" boats. With the introduction of these powerful boats the days of the small "snagger" crews vanished into history. The memory of the snaggers, however, lives on and this is because of one man who wrote a song of those by-gone days to keep their memory alive. The days of the "snagger" has been captured in lyric and music by writer and singer Johnny O'Neal in a song that makes you feel like you have spent a day on a snagging boat...this song is a great tribute to those men, some of who spent their whole life in the obscure occupation of "snagging". Johnny O'Neal lives in West Monroe, Louisiana and he has been writing songs and singing since he was twelve years old. Johnny describes his music as being a cross between "Country Rock" and "Folk". It has been said of O'Neal's music : "It's real music for real people". O'Neal is a unique talent and is extraordinarily gifted at portraying the character of each song that he writes.

For more information about Johnny O'Neal's Music visit:
www.johnnyoneal.com


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