The Gyppo Story
"Operating on little capital, substandard equipment, and always on the brink of financial failure, gyppo loggers multiplied in the Pacific Northwest woods in the two decades following the end of the Second World War. Reckless and daring, working through subcontracts and opposed to labor unions and environmental regulations, gyppos were a throwback to entrepreneurs of an earlier time..."
- William G. Robbins, Oregon State University
gyp•po |ˈjipō| a lumberjack who runs or works for a small scale logging operation that is independent from an established sawmill or lumber company primarily in the Pacific Northwest.
Our family came to Southern Humboldt when the Great Douglas-Fir Forests of Washington and Oregon, where they logged, had been cut to a fraction of their former glory. What they found in Southern Humboldt was rugged country with minimal access, torrential winter storms and long parched summers. Here was a land of incredible beauty and bounty that had been skipped over in the development of the rest of the Pacific Northwest. With virgin stands of Doug-Fir still intact, there was still room for a small GYPPO logging outfit to make a go of it.
Things changed, the roads were cut, trees were felled and hauled and the floods came. The houses washed away and with them some of the greatest salmon runs on earth. And with all of this a new era of GYPPO’s arrived, not the hard loggers busting down the forest but hippies moving north to get back to the land, growing marijuana on small plots and trying to stay out of the eye of The Man.
Some things change and some don’t. Nowadays, you’re more likely to see someone barefoot in town rather than walking around in a pair of corked boots. Once again, fortunes are being made in the hills of Southern Humboldt, not from timber, but from the largest cash crop in California. What hasn’t changed is the independence of the people living here. Whether they’re pushing a logging road through a creek or trying to restore it for the salmon or just making a buck on one’s own terms, all are striving to live free of the constraints of a modern world.
What GYPPO ALE MILL wants to do is celebrate all the groups that make this place so dynamic, bringing the back-to-landers and loggers together over a great beer brewed in the hills of Southern Humboldt that we all love. Whether we tell the story of our grandfathers running timber or our fathers running from the feds through the timber, collectively let’s raise an independently brewed beer to a free wheeling life
The Gyppo Ale Mill Family
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