McMurdo’s Camp– A Scion Society of the Baker Street Irregulars
THE LUMBER CAMPS OF MICHIGAN ca. 1866
Here is a photograph of K.R. Knutson camp #1, in mid-November not long after the first snow. The off-season crews have the grounds fixed up, and the camp crews, cooks, cookees, blacksmiths, carpenters, etc., are in place, and the lumbering crews are arriving for the season. It’s turning cold and deer are rutting, so winter meat is being put up. Plenty of hay and oats fill the horse barn. The work is tough and dangerous, but the chow and the pay are pretty good. In a few days when the ground really stiffens up, work begins in earnest.
As a young man, Birdy Edwards spent two seasons in the pineries of Charlevoix County, doing this sort of work. These experiences were useful to him later in his life as they provided an authentic but untraceable background for him to portray in his position with The Pinkertons.
During the summers of his Michigan days, Edwards found employment as a hand on a fishing boat in northern Lake Michigan. He later traveled down to Chicago, where he used his contacts from the North to find factory work in a lumber-related business.
He worked in a planing mill, and in less than a year rose to the position of superintendent of the spindle turning floor. Although it paid well, after a while it became obvious this job did not really suit him, so he applied for work with the Pinkerton detective agency in Chicago. With his gregarious nature, natural cleverness, and strong work ethic, he was a natural, and became an investigator who rose quickly to become a valuable agent, working both openly and under-cover on many important cases.
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In case you haven’t guessed, this is a SHERLOCK HOLMES web site. The introduction above is related to the early life of a major character in one of the Sherlock Holmes stories, The Valley of Fear (VALL). We are a mostly “Canonical” site, dealing primarily with the 4 novels and 56 short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle and events related therein. We are not strict purists, however, and do occasionally stray into comments about publications, meetings, or movies.
To learn more about McMurdo’s Camp, explore the sidebar designated as “PAGES” on the right. Here is what you will find:
Front Page: This is where you are now.
Read How This Site Works: Pretty simple. This explains the blog format we use.
POSTS: Comments or updates to the site are presented here, newest on top. If new articles are published, or general news about the site needs to be made known, this is where we tell you what’s up. In the past we had stories and monographs here, but these have been mostly moved into appropriate categories.
McMurdo’s Camp – Join up: Who we are, where we are, how to join, either locally in northern Michigan, or as a cyber-member. It’s free. Information without obligation. No commercial connections to worry about.
Activities (and sub-headings): Members from time-to-time are given the chance to participate in Holmes-related activities. Read what we have done. Readers of the site are invited to add their own entries and comments. An activity open to all is called “Masonite Titles”. Check it out. Some knowledge of the plot and characters of at least one Sherlock Holmes story will be necessary to participate.
Another one, “Dogs After Dark” explains the significance of the dog who did nothing in the night-time, and asks readers to see if there are other stories in the Canon that depend upon this type of clue.
Cultural Items: A couple of movie reviews of the “Not Robert Downey” Sherlock Holmes movie recently released in 2010 by The Asylum on DVD. McMurdo’s Camp has a cinema expert on staff. We also feature a review of a top-rated Holmes modern-day pastiche. And if you are interested in a “hot one” take a look at “Lurid Paperback with Scantily”. Ettie as you have not imagined her. also, a review of the TV show on A&E, “Biography” featuring Sherlock Holmes. And we have a review of the second Downey-as-Holmes movie (which we thought was better than the first). We even explain the plot, in case you did not notice it.
Trifling Monographs: Articles written by campers or the home office writing staff. There is a scholarly piece by San Diego camper Kieth Albrandt exploring some the mysteries behind the 4-letter J.F. Christ abbreviations, entitled “TAO ABBR”. If you read it you will know how it got its name. We have an explanation and a link telling how to find and download (free & legal) “Books on Tape” of the Canon, which are MP3 files of all the stories.
There is an interesting article on Sherlock Holmes related to the 2009 Robert Downey movie. It shows the original Holmes is every bit the tough guy, and that the Hollywood version has nothing on the original in terms of Holmes’ toughness and ability to handle himself in a fight. Think Downey’s portrayal of a gritty and physical Holmes is something new? Read this and think again.
Read “What, No Sherlock Holmes ??” to find out why it is really just a lucky accident anyone ever heard of Sherlock Holmes in the first place!
Check out “Peine Forte et Dure”, for an explanation of this grisly reference in The Valley of Fear (VALL), and find out its relationship to the United States Constitution and Marilyn Munro.
“Why Watson’s View” explains how some modern interpretations of Holmes fall short because they are not presented through the eyes and mind of Dr. Watson, and why this is so important to the original stories.
Some of the articles originally entered under “POSTS” have worked their way off the bottom of the list and into the archives. A few of these were not unworthy of retention and have been resurrected in this section. “Decision on the Dover Train” is the first, for all you gamblers. Learn more about casino games. Then read “That Train” and “The Rascally Lascar”.
New articles are added from time to time. If you are a Holmes fan and wish promulgate your thoughts on the subject, this might be the place for you to do it. Contact us.
St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone again, and the Irish are still with us. Check out the Trifling Monograph “Hibernian Holmes” in the side bar on the right. Can you come up with an Irish connection in the Canon we have not included? Special accolades will be granted to any one who does. There must be another one, somewhere!
The Scowrers: An introduction to a Holmes novel, The Valley of Fear. Read about it here. If you like it, there is a link to the entire work. This story has some relationship to McMurdo’s Camp.
Baskerville Serial Challenge: A challenge to readers to find the spots where The Hound of The Baskervilles was split up into episodes when it was first published in serial form. A subordinate page called Break Points in Baskerville gives the answers.
The Devil You Say?: And, speaking of Baskerville, read more about devil dog legends in all parts of Britain, and elsewhere. Where did Doyle get the idea? Maybe lots of places.
Story Info Sheets: Information sheets, kind of like summaries, on the Holmes short stories and novels.
The Info Sheets are listed in alphabetic order of the J.F. Christ abbreviations. Comments or suggested additions are welcome and encouraged. If you find a misteak, we particularly want to find out about it.
Smokin’ and Drinkin’ in the Canon: Holmes, Watson, and their cronies do a lot of this, and we decided to list them all together in case anyone is interested. The information is presented in context, by story, in the order of publication. Check out the Chesterfield smoker in the introduction.
Latest changes to site:
17 Aug 12. Material regarding the upcoming movie, Sherlock Holmes vs. Frankenstein is being revised and rearranged. POSTS will disappear, to be incorporated into articles/comments under the heading FRANKENSTEIN! New entries on the movie will appear as articles under this heading. Also revised front page intro to late fall at one of the local camps, K.R. Knutson in Essex.
30 Apr 13. We added an item to our “Holmes Commerce” section, 221B Cellars, a Napa Valley winemaker.
26 Jul 13. Added an activity for readers, Murderous Decor, in which readers are asked to identify examples of murderous decor in addition to those discussed.
7 Aug 13. Added a play review in Cultural Items, Sherlock Holmes -The Final Adventure. Perfomed by The Commonweal Theatre, Lanesboro Minnesota. If you are attending the meetings in Minneapolis, it is an easy drive down and a worthwhile excursion or addendum to your trip.
8 Sep 13. Camper M. Vernet, writing from her new location in Jackson Michigan, has uncovered some interesting connections with regard to the travels of Holmes, Doyle, Birdie Edwards, and the city of Jackson. See “Sherlock Slept Here”, in Trifling Monographs in the sidebar on the right.
11 Dec 13. Another M. Vernet contribution. The Season of Forgiveness. For the Christmas Holiday season, including carbuncle-specific vital facts and information.
21 Feb 14. New from M. Vernet. The battle of Maiwand. This is where it all began.
29 Apr 14 M. Vernet has written a new page, called “Follow the Bees, which has a Springtime flair to it. Perhaps Springtime is not new to many of our readers, but in the Lumber Camps of Michigan, the snow has just about melted and we are expecting to see some green shoots soon.
Coming before too long to McMurdo’s Travelogue: Skibbareen (Skibbereen).
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