Help me identify this type of saw/whacker/doohickey thing?

I came across this mysterious image in my day job. Note: this is a quick-and-dirty shot with a digital camera, not a high res scan–that will be available (and in the public domain) through my work’s digital library database.

Men with rotating blades

Judging by where it turned up in the collection I’m processing, these fine gents are likely either part of the Forest Service, or the lumber industry. They’re already arranged under a general topic, and this query is purely for my own personal curiosity, because despite my formidable librarian web-search mojo I can’t identify these tools. Some kind of brush saw? Or a intimidating type of weed whacker?  What would you say you use them for? DEAR GOD, WHAT ARE THEY? Any clarity will be much appreciated.

If it helps, the original image is in black-and-white, and the date could be between 1930s-1960s.

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