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Books About Historic Lumbering and Sawing

Sawmill forum members recommend some interesting reading about the history of logging and sawmill operations in various regions of North America. April 18, 2015

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I just finished reading a short book called "Lumber Boom of Coastal South Carolina" by Robert McAlister which was just published. It is very fascinating. It covers the time period from the 1700抯 until today. What is interesting for this forum, I think, is that around the beginning of the 20th century, the worlds largest sawmill was located in Georgetown, SC and was producing about 200 million BF per year. They owned 250,000 acres with two billion BF of timber. By 1930, markets were poor and virgin timber was scarce, so it closed.

Soon after, with the assistance of the SC Forestry Commission that showed how southern pine could be a plantation crop, International Paper Company built the world's largest pulp mill in Georgetown, SC, employing 2,500 people and using 2,500 cords a day. They owned over 600,000 acres of timber. In an epilogue, the writers described his adventure as a student surveyor for IP in 1954 in the swamps.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor X:
I just looked it up. The subtitle is pretty interesting as well: "The Lumber Boom of Coastal South Carolina: Nineteenth-Century Shipbuilding and the Devastation of Lowcountry Virgin Forests." Thanks for the referral - this is the kind of read that I like.



From contributor K:
It sounds interesting. I have a book describing the following era here in AR. It has been a while since I read it, but after the East had been logged out, the same timber men moved over to the middle of the country. Ken, the author, says that due to the Ouachita Mt region being still roadless it was the last virgin forest East of the divide. After it was gone, some of the same families move out West to Oregon and Washington. Sawmill: The Story of Cutting The Last Great Virgin Forest East of Rockies. Gene, also here in my office I have a large book which is the American Lumberman magazine bound for the year 1909. One month featured the Bluff City Clio Lumber company which was pretty large and logging virgin forests. It is about 50 pages long with lots of wonderful photos from the owners portraits to their homes, through the mill, out the rails to the ox teams and into the stands of uncut forest which is jaw dropping. I'm sure you've seen plenty of these old mill photos, but it amazes me to think about how much of work those guys did with human power felling this trees, then beast to get them out to the rails then up on the cars.


From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Another good book is "Daylight in the Swamp" by Robert Wells. It is about white pine logging in WI, MN and MI. It is quite expensive, but maybe inter library loan is better. One on WV logging is "Tumult on the Mountain" by Roy Clarkson.

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