Cutting the massive sequoia sempervirens proved an enormous challenge for loggers. Logging methods used in the Midwest and New England proved insufficient in the redwoods forests. The first loggers might spend a more than a week of chopping with only an axe to fall a giant redwood tree, and large trees often shattered upon impact. Longer and heavier crosscut saws were developed during the mid nineteenth century and many variations of these were widely used. The redwood's thick layer of soft, stringy bark was problematic for saws, and had to be removed on site.
With the arrival of larger mills to the area, more efficient ways of logging had to be employed. The "steam donkey" developed by John Dolbeer in 1882, was a huge advancement in logging. With it, large sections of logs were easily pulled into place and transported out of landings.
The rugged and mountainous terrain of California's North coast proved an enormous challenge for wood cutters, and skid roads were cut through the forests to transport the giant logs. Before railroads made their way to Humboldt County, loggers made use of horses, mules, and teams of oxen to haul sections of redwood trees.
Redwood trees were cut with huge undercuts made by two wood cutters with double sided axes. A "gunstick" was used to measure the proper depth and angle of the undercut, so the tree would fall in the correct place. Precision was necessary, as mistakes were costly, and potentially deadly for workers.
Bigger and more effecient saws were needed to cut down an enormous sequoia sempervirens tree. By the mid 1800s, loggers were using crosscut saws up to twelve feet in length.
By 1853, there were nine sawmills operating in Eureka. One of the major advancements in logging technology was the steam donkey, invented in 1882 by John Dolbeer. The donkey harnessed the power of steam to large winches that were used both to pull the donkey engine through the forest on skids, and to pull large sections of redwood logs to landings where they were then transported to mills by railroad cars.