When the Homestead Act became law in 1862, settlers were soon headed west with the promise of 160 acres per family. Often heavily wooded, settlers needed to clear the land before using it for farming, and the lumber industry boomed.
From the early 1800s through to the 1940s, when manual lumberjacking went into decline, these men lived in remote camps for months on end. Hours were very long and the work hard. Camps were often rife with disease and lice, because lumberjacks often wore the same gear, unwashed, for months. As word of this spread, it can come as no surprise that these hard men started to acquire fearsome reputations. Eventually things improved enough that wives and families could move to the camps as well, paving the way for schools and other community features.