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Timber Roots - Newton Logging

Newton Logging’s Timber Roots started when a young Charlie Newton was tasked with skidding behind a horse on his father’s ranch at the ripe age of 8. As with many ranchers at the time, Charlie’s dad had a little tie mill. The horses were updated to a Caterpillar D2 and by the time Charlie was out of high school in 1961 he had a pretty good hand on old fashioned logging. He cut timber for a year after graduation before enlisting in the Air Force for four years as a munitions specialist which included two tours in Vietnam.

Charlie married his high school sweetheart Dorothy in December of ’63 when home on leave. With his time with the Air Force finished, Charlie, his pregnant wife Dorothy and his two children moved back home to Eureka. The dust had barely had a chance to settle before Charlie put $1000 down on a crawler and Newton Logging was soon formed. The company grew gradually adding equipment and eventually grew to a five-man crew. Newton Logging worked for various land owners and purchased their own agency sales and eventually in 1995 were logging full time for Plum Creek.

Newton Logging has always been at the forefront of technology and were some of the first loggers to embrace what we now call mechanized logging. In 1990, a new Timbco appeared on the job soon followed by a slide boom delimber. When the big wood of the Plum Creek days started to shrink in size, Newton Logging updated to a dangle head processor which handled the smaller diameter trees faster and produced a quality log. Seeking a practical solution to skidding logs on steep ground, they put a skidding grapple on the boom of a Timbco and installed a backup camera so the operator could see where he was going.

Many a logger has started in the business by following their Dad’s footsteps to the woods. This is the same with the Newton family as Charlie’s son Mike started working with his Dad at a young age. At the ripe age of 12, it was Mike’s time to head to the woods and start earning his keep. He was tasked with helping his Dad tip trees. The following summer he was presented with a set of chokers and was schooled in the fine art of hooking logs behind a D6. By age of 14, being an experienced logger now, he was given the controls of a 21A Garrett skidder.

In 1984, after working summers and lots of weekends, it was time for Mike to graduate from Lincoln County High School. Mike headed to Havre the next fall enrolling in Northern Montana College’s diesel technology program. Once finished, Mike came home and was full time logging side by side with his Dad.

As the years rolled by, Mike knew he wanted to be his own boss. In 2013, the time had come and Mike bought Newton Logging from his parents. Mike took over the mechanical operation and hit the ground running. Seeing an opportunity to diversify the company, Mike approached long time line logger Pat Hanley into selling his operation to him. Pat was looking at retirement and selling the company to Mike seemed to be the right fit. Pat worked with Mike for the next year and handed the operation over to him the following season. Newton logging had now grown to two sides, a mechanized operation and line logging operation. Mike added a leveling shovel to the line logging side and can be found at the controls almost daily.

Newton Logging has proven over the years to be very efficient in getting logs to the mill. To do this, you need a good crew and a good leader. Mike has proven that if you treat your guys right, it will pay dividends. Mike invests in his guys with most of them attending the Forest Stewardship Workshop and attaining Accredited Logging Professional status. The crew is also sent to Spokane each spring to attend the Intermountain Logging Conference. Mike leads by example and can be often found hooking chokers or pulling line hand in hand with the crew.

A key to the business, is Mike’s wife Nettie. Nettie has the daunting task of running the books. Anyone that has done it, can tell you that this is not exactly the fun part of running a successful company. Having someone that supports you and keeps you on tract is something that you cannot put a price on. Mike and Nettie have known each other since high school and make a great team. Between them they have four grown offspring and seven grandchildren.

Newton Logging has been recognized for the great work that is being done. In 2018, Charlie was presented with the Honorary Life Member of the Intermountain Logging Conference. Mike was recognized by the Forest Resources Association in 2018 as the Outstanding Logger in their western region. In 2019, Mike was awarded both Montana Wood Products Logger of the year and Northwest Montana Hoo-Hoo’s Lumberman of the Year.

Newton Logging’s dedication to this profession we call logging is a long list. After several years of service to the MLA, Charlie became the 13th president of the association. In 1994, both Charlie and Mike became Accredited Logging Professionals and today Mike is the ALP committee president. Mike spent 12 years on the Board of Directors of the Intermountain Logging Conference and was president in 2016 which through his direction has made the conference better and stronger for the future. The family logging business has been recognized by numerous timberland owners for their commitment to and implementation of professional timber harvesting practices. Mike’s tenure at the MLA started with being a chapter director and as of recently becoming the current president of the Montana Logging Association.

Through the beginning foundation that Charlie built, the growth and foreword thinking that Charlie and Mike formed together, and the leadership of Mike to his crew and the MLA, there is little doubt that Newton Logging’s Timber Roots will continue to grow.

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