HISTORY OF MADISON LOG ROLLING

During the 19th century logging reshaped the landscape of Wisconsin and provided a livelihood for thousands of workers.  The bravest of these lumberjacks, known as “log drivers” or “river pigs” rode and drove the timber from the woods to the sawmills using the river's current.  At the end of the log drives, lumberjacks would compete to see who was the best “birler,” or as we call them now… log roller.  

The sport has evolved into a serious athletic event featured on ESPN, Outdoor Life, ABC Wide World of Sports, and much more.  Men and women of all ages log roll in pools, lakes, ponds, and tanks all over the US and Canada.    

Back in the 1970s log rolling was introduced to the West YMCA in Madison.  In 2005, Olivia Judd and Shana Martin began teaching outdoor log rolling lessons at Wingra Canoe and Sailing Center.  In 2007 the first boom run was set up in Madison.  And in 2010, Madison Log Rolling LLP was formed to preserve the rich history of Wisconsin logging by growing the sport of log rolling in the greater Madison community.

Since Madison Log Rolling was founded, the program has grown from two logs and a dozen students, to training hundreds of students each year. Our Wingra program now has 13 coaches on staff and over ten logs. The Madison Log Rolling logs and boom run also serve as a training location for elite competitors across the Midwest. We work hard in our classes, but also emphasize having fun and building community.  Team members frequently form friendships that extend outside of class, and it's not uncommon for log rollers to show up in elaborate costumes for our annual end-of-season party.  We welcome rollers of all ages and abilities to join in on the fun!

 

Location

We roll at at Lake Wingra, near the Wingra Boats boathouse (824 Knickerbocker St.) Park in the lot at the end of Knickerbocker and make your way towards the lake. Starting at the boathouse, follow the paved path along the shoreline. When the path ends, continue walking across the grass to the edge of the park (about 150 feet), where you will see our banner and logs.