Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Bangor Maine: Lumber Capital of the World

  1. #1

    Bangor Maine: Lumber Capital of the World

    I've been reading a good book at night called "Tough Men, Tall Trees" and it has a lot of stories and history about logging in Maine. I will try not to bore anyone here with too many statistics, but Bangor got its reputation by boasting some pretty big numbers. Since we are all woodworkers and know how much wood it takes to make a thousand board feet, I think these numbers may impress you.

    The Penobscot River drains 2 million acres of forest

    In 1860 Bangor received by Penobscot river-drive, 250,000,000 board feet of lumber! (pretty impressive for one winters harvest with axe)

    This was delivered to 417 working sawmills in and around the Bangor area

    3000 ships floated to Bangor to pick up lumber that year (again this occurred when ice was NOT on the river...a 7 month span)

    One mill sawed 250,000 board feet in one day (Granted the logs were 56 feet long and 12 inches on the top end)

    Hardwood was considered junk wood while Pine and Spruce ruled

    If Hardwood had to be floated down river, it was lashed to 2 spruce logs to make it float.

    The first river drive began in 1837 and lasted until 1965 and even today sunken logs are sometimes washed up from river-drive days. Driving dams and boom anchors still exist on-river as well.

    The Peavy and the Snow and Neally felling ax were invented here and both companies exist to this day. In fact Peavies were of such importance that foreman on river-drive would often save the Peavy before trying to help the river-driver which was considered less valuable!
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Kea'au Hawaii. Just down the road from Hilo town!
    Posts
    1,357
    That is some fantastic figures to try and comprehend. Growing up in Tacoma, Washington in the 50's you always saw logging trucks coming down from the hills with their loads headed for the mills on the tideflats where the industrial center was. Back then it was common to see only one log filling the entire trailer with a butt diameter of what I guess was bout 8-9 feet? By the time I moved out of Tacoma in '91, there were a lot fewer trucks coming out of the hills and there would be filled with probably 35-40 long skinny pecker poles destined to the stud mills. Rennie's old employer was King in the area for a long time.
    Aloha,

    What goes around, comes around.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Posts
    12,256

    More logging History but in Ontario, Canada

    Hey Travis

    Sometimes I think I should just get in the car and take a drive to Maine to visit you. It would be a lot easier than all this typing and I reckon we could talk till the cows come home about subjects that interest us.

    A year ago I went camping with a couple of my friends in Algonquin forest in North East Ontario. The most interesting thing we came across was the logging museum. They have a full camp all set up the way it was together with some sample logs cut in the way they did back then with a broad axe.

    Here some pics of the size of trees and how they cut them. Well worth a visit if you are ever in Ontario.

    The interesting point that I picked up is that this trade in wood started as a result of demand from the Royal Navy for wood. Turns out they wasted a great deal since they only used the relatively straight section of these massive trees. Then the shaping method of squaring up the logs caused exacerbated the problem of natural fires with all the wood chips that were left on the forest floors. Created a more intense burn when lightining struck and ultimately played a part in upsetting some of the balance between moose and deer. They cut them square to get more lumber into ships holds.

    Life was really tough back then and so was life expectancy.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_1668.jpg   IMG_1728.jpg   IMG_1729.jpg   IMG_1730.jpg   IMG_1731.jpg  

    IMG_1732.jpg  
    cheers

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Posts
    11,832
    Oh, yes, sawmills were a big part of history going way back in time. Romans, Greeks and anyone near big water had sawmills almost before anything else. Building ships was how nations traded and fought their way to being empires. History Channel carries a show on this subject now and then.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Inside the Beltway
    Posts
    2,666
    Yep, that's cool. Made me go out and find old pics of logging from my part of the world. Here's a good one:




    Way more here:

    http://www.oldphotoguy.com/logging-photographs.html

    Thanks,

    Bill

  6. #6
    I have had a Great Uncle that wrote about logging/homesteading in what he called the "Frontier" back in 1880 or so. I have never been there but I believe it was in Cedar Falls, Washington. Anyway it was an interesting account of trying to tame the forest and turn it into a farm. Big trees, lots of bears and wildcats and good fishing!! After 20 years, he realized it could not be farmed and came back to Maine to finish out his years here.

    I have never been there, but his account was fascinating. If anyone from Washington has been there, I would like to hear what the place is like.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  7. #7
    I remember going to an old logging museum where they had a water-wheel powered up and down sawmill of the 1790 era. Well the log they were sawing broke loose of the carriage and it was being slammed up and down by the saw blade. The entire building was shaking from the force until they finally got it stopped. Now this was a timber framed building made out of big beams and planks so it was taking quit the hit.

    Now the weird part was, there was barely a trickle of water going over the water wheel. This fed into wooden gears and trunnions and yet the power that little trickle of water had was amazing.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Kea'au Hawaii. Just down the road from Hilo town!
    Posts
    1,357
    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Johnson View Post
    I have never been there, but his account was fascinating. If anyone from Washington has been there, I would like to hear what the place is like.
    Check this link out Travis.

    http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm...m&file_id=2537
    Aloha,

    What goes around, comes around.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Bellingham
    Posts
    2,449
    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Johnson View Post
    I have had a Great Uncle that wrote about logging/homesteading in what he called the "Frontier" back in 1880 or so. I have never been there but I believe it was in Cedar Falls, Washington. Anyway it was an interesting account of trying to tame the forest and turn it into a farm. Big trees, lots of bears and wildcats and good fishing!! After 20 years, he realized it could not be farmed and came back to Maine to finish out his years here.

    I have never been there, but his account was fascinating. If anyone from Washington has been there, I would like to hear what the place is like.
    I am familiar with Cedar Falls, but at that time (1880), all of Washington fit the description that your uncle gave. Much of all that has changed naturally. Even the Cascade Mountains are interlaced with logging roads, so there is not quite the feel of being truly remote and isolated. Probably the most isolated area now that could duplicate the remoteness of that time would be to hike the traverse through the Olympic Mountains.

Similar Threads

  1. at the back of the Capital DC
    By Dave Hawksford in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 03-16-2013, 04:15 AM
  2. Buying hardwood lumber in Maine
    By Eric Eckman in forum General Woodworking Q&A
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 11-05-2009, 12:30 AM
  3. Hello from Canada's capital
    By Chris Inch in forum Welcome and Introductions
    Replies: 23
    Last Post: 04-01-2009, 10:47 AM
  4. Maine in Arkansas
    By Frank Fusco in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 03-07-2008, 05:40 PM
  5. Whats going on here in Maine (crime)
    By Travis Johnson in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 09-16-2007, 02:51 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •