The 1000 Feet Long Benson Rafts

Samuel Reason

A Benson raft was a massive seasonal log barge built to transport huge quantities of timber from Canada to Southern California. It was a way to move industrial amounts of unprocessed timber at one time, across miles of water. In fact, they tug boats would drag this wood through the ocean, saving the company millions in transportation costs. Because at the time time, transporting by train or lorries would have cost too much. Simon Benson was the raft building specialist behind the creation of these unique rafts.

Many historians believe this creation alone lowered the cost of finished timber so much that it started the boom of the construction industry in Southern California. Simon Benson was a lumber baron from Portland in Oregon. Today he may only be remembered for covering California in water fountains, known as the Benson Bubblers. However, during his career, he made several ingenious inventions. In fact, he is well known for his determination in building the Colombia River Highway and the Crown Point Vista House.

But ask anyone who was alive during the early 1900s, and they would talk about Benson’s huge cigar looking lumber rafts floating across the ocean. People had been trying to make these lumber rafts since the 1700s, and many attempts had been made. It sounds simple: wood floats. But most designs ended in complete disaster. In 1906, Benson traveled to the American West Coast and made a sawmill there in Southern California, because he knew the boom was coming. But the problem was San Diego did not have enough trees to supply his sawmill. He needed to import trees from logging operations in Oregon and Canada. However, it was extremely expensive to load logs into an ocean schooner.

He designed his raft to take logs from the Columbia River all the way down to San Diego. This meant these rafts were floating over 1,100 miles. It was designed to float as if it was only a gigantic tree trunk. Essentially, they would tie felled trees all together with giant logging chains. It could take up to seven weeks just to put these rafts together as they were usually 700 to 1000 feet long and 55 feet wide. It was a massive success until they started to burn mysteriously. This caused navigational problems given their size and given they had never burned before, it was thought to be sabotage. In 1941, the construction of Benson rafts ended forever.

Next Article
  • The Legend Of Snake Rock In Naka Cave

    Naka Cave is found in Phu Langka National Park in Thailand, and in Thai it means snake. There is a real reason for this, the cave looks like a giant snake. The texture of the stones appears to resemble the scaled skin of a snake. Over the years there have been hundreds of articles publishing...

    Read More
  • Reindeer In A WW2 Submarine

    One of the more unusual moments of World War II was when a British submarine transported around a reindeer it had been given by the Russians as a gift. In 1941, the crew of the HMS Trident was given a reindeer by the USSR navy. The reindeer then spent the next 6 weeks living with...

    Read More
  • Byzantine Emperor Justinian II Was Called The Slit Nosed

    Justinian II or as many called him The Slit Nosed, was the last Byzantine Emperor of the Heraclian dynasty. This was a dynasty that took place from 685 to 695, and then again from 705 to 711. Justinian II had extremely ambitious plans and was passionate about growing the empire. His aim was to restore...

    Read More
  • The 2003 Slammer Virus That Took The Whole Internet Offline

    An infamous virus that to this day remains a complete mystery wreaked havoc on the world in 2003. Within 10 minutes it infected over 400,000 computers total, and within 40 minutes it doubled its population. Crucially the computer virus infected five of the thirteen root DNS servers, which crippled the world’s internet. In fact, most...

    Read More
  • The Famous Actress From The 1900s With No Footage

    Valeska Suratt was an American stage and silent film actress who became very popular during the early 1900s. During her career she appeared in over 11 silent films, garnering fans across the whole country. Incredibly despite being so popular, there is no known footage still in existence of her acting. Because in 1937 the infamous...

    Read More
  • The Eccentric Italian World War I Pilot Guido Keller

    Not many Italian pilots during World War I became famous, but the eccentric Guido Keller definitely was. He would be flying reading philosophy books and even had a full set of china tea in his plane. In fact, most of his battle reports started as I was reading X book, when suddenly I spotted… [caption...

    Read More
  • Many Medieval Manuscripts Describe Knights Fighting Snails

    In what appears to be great battles, many medieval manuscripts describe knights fighting with what seem to be snails. There are even drawings to confirm, but no historian really knows what this means at all. No one has cracked the case of why a knight has to fight a tiny little snail. Potentially, there was...

    Read More
  • Sunflowers Follow The Fibonacci Pattern

    What some thought was just a hypnotic pattern found in sunflowers, nature was actually following a strict mathematical path. It can only be described as nature literally blowing our minds. Sunflowers are definitely beautiful and their giant yellow heads flowing the sunlight are iconic. Some of the most picturesque landscape paintings or photos show bright...

    Read More