Page images
[graphic][merged small]

until every one is familiar with the tree sin, for example, but they make up in which has a hole cut through its trunk capacity to a certain extent what they so that a wagon can be driven through, lack in numbers while a company of cavalry have posed Individual mills on Puget Sound, on for their photographs on one of the fallen the Columbia River and other inlets conspecimens, such is its length and thick- necting with the Pacific Ocean are reness. But the Big Trees, as the Califor- markable for their size. At Port Blakenia people call them, are so few in num- ly, on one of the islands of Puget Sound, ber compared with those in the vast fir is the largest saw mill in capacity under and cedar forests in Washington and one roof in the world. In a year it conOregon that their importance is insig- verts one hundred million feet of logs nificant compared with the latter, for it into square timber, planking, boards and is a fact that the larger firs are as high smaller sizes, much of the output being as any of the trees in the Mariposa loaded on shipboard at the mill for South Grove, and when cut down for lumber and Central America, Mexico, and Euwill supply far more board feet to a tree rope. The largest group of sawing than the others. Today, firs are being plants owned by one company is situated felled in the country adjacent to Puget on Tacoma harbor, in Washington, and Sound which measure over three hun- is owned by the St. Paul & Tacoma Lumdred feet from the topmost branch merely ber Company, while the largest shingle to the edge of the cut, not counting the mill in the world is in the town of Balstumpage. The traveler who goes into lard, a suburb of Seattle, producing the country a few miles north of the solely cedar shingles. city of Seattle, one of the first places To supply the requirements of a saw where the timbermen began their in- mill industry of such dimensions it is roads into these forests, will see ruins evident that an enormous quantity of of woods giants looming up twelve, standing timber must be cut annually. fifteen and twenty feet from the ground, Consequently logging, as conducted in some of them so large around that two the Pacific Northwest, is of very large horsemen would find room on the top for proportions, giving employment in the themselves and their animals. Not far states named to fully 15,000 men. It from the town of Sedro-Woolley, the may be needless to say that it is entirely farmers in a clearing sometimes have a distinct from the milling industry proper, dance on the stump of a tree which actu- although the two are frequently conally measures fifteen feet through at the founded and the work of the logger is base. The top of this stump is so large placed in the same category with that of that four couples can move around upon the millman. But this is an error, for it, and then leave room for the fiddler. the service of the logman ceases when

Mere figures do not give an idea of the logs are made up into the raft to be the immensity of this woodland of the towed to the mill or are loaded upon railPacific Northwest, but it is necessary to way cars and started for the same desinclude a few statistics in order to prove tination. how this enormous source of wealth to These figures show that although lumAmerica is being wasted. Fifty thou- bering has only just begun in these sand square miles of Oregon and 45.000 states, the forests are being attacked by square miles of Washington, or over half men aided by powerful machinery at the area of these states, are yet covered such a rate that already a large area truly with forests of the first growth of fir, presents a scene of desolation. This is cedar, and other species, the fir and cedar on account of the methods employed in representing the greatest percentage. getting out the timber. Any man in the The four hundred and fifty saw mills in lumber business is well aware that the fir the state of Washington turn out over is one of the most valuable woods that is two thousand million feet yearly, while to be found in the New World. It is the output of the five hundred Oregon not only very strong, but extremely light. mills is fifteen hundred million feet. The You can leave a piece of it in water for number of mills is small contrasted with months before it becomes water logged. similar plants in Michigan and Wiscon- Most of the mills have ponds adjacent to

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed]

them where thousands of logs are kept cause it is tiresome to wield the axe with sometimes for a year or more before being a foothold on the ground. When a tree taken out of the water to be run through is marked out for felling by the foreman the saws, yet this exposure does not of the gang, the first thing done is to cut affect their quality in the least. If a notches a few feet above the roots. Into man wishes to build a frame house of these are driven what are called spring first-class material, he buys fir lumber boards. Upon them stand the axemen, and covers the building with cedar and as they give with every move of the shingles, which are considered as among body, the axe can be swung back and the best for roofs because they will last forth with less fatigue, so these destroyfor a quarter of a century without de- ers of the forest waste the timber merely caying. The railroad builders are after because it is easier for them to cut into the long square fir timbers because they the trunks above the ground than at the are so strong and durable. In the days roots. A word about the decayed spots. of wooden ships enormous quantities of The fir is such a vigorous and hardy tree fir went into the framework and spars of that seldom is the heart rotten except vessels, and today cargoes containing possibly a few inches in the very center. masts of Oregon pine are sent from the If it is decayed in any way a few minPacific country clear around Cape Horn utes' boring with a small auger will to New England, where the spars are quickly determine this fact, but the tree placed in coasting vessels.

cutters will not even take the trouble to To the eastern man, trees such as grow

do this. Within the last few years small in the pineries of the Carolinas, Georgia, shingle mills have been put up on what and other states are considered big be- the man of the Northwest calls the cause they sometimes reach 150 feet "logged-off lands," for so much good above the ground and may measure

lumber can be obtained from the stumps three or four feet through at the butt. where trees have recently been cut that Stand one of the largest Georgia pines a mill may be kept running in a neighbeside a big fir on the shores of Puget borhood for a year or so before it is Sound, and it would look like a little necessary to move the machinery to some sapling, for some of these giants of the other place. The shingle bolts, as they Northwest rise a hundred feet before are called, can be sawed out of the they put out even the first branch, and stumps and carried to the mill in flumes most of what the lumberman calls the which are merely long troughs filled with larger growth average at least eight feet water. In this way the stumpage of a through at the butt. Right here is one tract of logged-off land for a distance reason why there is such a great waste of eight or ten miles around the mill in logging in the Pacific Northwest. The can be converted into shingles. timber cutter usually drives his axe into This industry alone shows how the the trunk so high from the ground that, present methods of timber cutting in the as we have already stated, the stump Pacific Northwest have been wasteful, which is left may be ten or twelve feet but the destruction of young trees is far above the roots. Seldom does he make a more serious. When a piece of forest cut less than six feet above the ground. is to be invaded, the first man to go Ask him why, and he will tell you that through it is the "timber cruiser." He he wants to avoid any rotten spot which is such an expert in forestry that he can may be in the heart. Instead of taking estimate closely the number of board feet the trouble to bore a small hole in the which a fir will yield after he has merely center to find out if any part of the measured its length with his eye and run heart is decayed, he simply cuts it from his tape around its base at two or three where he thinks the trunk is sound and places. He is looking especially for the often leaves as much good wood in the trees which will cut into timbers one stump as can be sawed out of one of the hundred feet and over because these long smaller pines which are continually being timbers are in such demand among railcut for lumber in the southern forests. road and bridge builders that a tree of

Another reason why these huge scars this sort will bring double the price of are left on the face of the earth is be- another which may cut into almost as much board and planking. It is no it comes down it may destroy several small task to fell one of the larger firs, small specimens which if allowed to which may be two hundred and fifty or grow would perhaps have been of the three hundred feet from root to top, be- same size. With their branches bent and cause it is not only so long but so heavy. crushed, their trunks sometimes torn A single one may be sawed into logs apart half way up from the roots, they which weigh in all from one hundred and present a sorry spectacle in a forest, and fifty to two hundred tons, and some of if later the tract is swept by a conflagrathe twenty-four-foot logs will weigh tion from some fire accidentally or purforty tons each. To get one of these posely kindled, the scene of ruin is truly giants down without splitting the trunk pathetic to the lover of Nature. As a or breaking it off requires some skillful rule the men who do the felling are so work on the part of the felling gang,

skilled in their work that the tree comes First the foreman examines the ground down in the place and is uninjured, but on all sides and chooses the spot for the sometimes a strong wind or a cut too bed where there may be a swampy spot much on one side causes it to be a "side or the underbrush is thicker than in other winder," as the lumberman says, and it places, but usually a "bed" is made con- falls in the wrong place, perhaps rent sisting of small branches which are asunder by the tremendous force of the heaped in piles. These piles are, of blow and bringing down a dozen or more course, in a straight line a few feet apart, trees with it. Many an unlucky timber the idea being to cut the tree so it will jack has been caught under one of these fall on the series of piles to keep it from "side winders," and either maimed for striking the ground too hard. If there life or crushed to death. are some small trees in the line of the Only those who have journeyed along fall which may help break the force of the railroads of the Pacific Northwest the shock the fir is felled if possible so can appreciate the ravages of fire. We as to strike them. Consequently when speak about the destruction by fire on the

[graphic][subsumed][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »