cold deck

In logging lingo, a cold deck is a pile, or deck, of logs that have been stacked up away from the immediate logging operation, usually outside of densely forested areas because of fire danger. Most people are familiar with cold decks as those towering stacks of logs seen in the yards of lumber mills—enough to keep a big mill going all winter and spring. During the era of log drives, landings along the river were lined with cold-decked logs awaiting spring breakup, when the logs would be pushed into the river for their journey to the mill. The opposite of cold decking is, of course, hot decking, part of a fluid logging operation in which the trees are felled, skidded, trimmed, and loaded with little delay. It is interesting to note that, in gambling, a cold deck is a stacked deck of cards held in the dealer’s hand; therefore, cold deck has evolved into a general term meaning “to take unfair advantage of.” Although it is difficult to say how these two definitions might inform one another, it is fair to speculate that early generations of bunkhoused lumberjacks were as familiar with one application as they were with the other.

Kim Barnes