Posts Tagged ‘Timber’

TIMBER: BIG BUSINESS IN THE OLD WEST

July 1, 2008

TIMBER

 

Trees:  We love them, we grow them in our yards, kids climb them and we tie hammocks to them.  Trees are everywhere, and we think nothing about them.  When we go to the hardware store and walk through the lumber department we seldom think to compare them to the shade tree in our front yard.  Also when we think of the old west we never think of the role that the tree played in its development.

Good gosh where to start!  let’s forget for a minute the practice of building the towns and farms, and ranch building.  How about we start with the wagon trains.  Of course the wagons were built of wood but they were for the most part already built east of the Mississippi River.  In their travels toward their western destinations they stopped for the night along the way and cooked evening and morning meals.  This required fire wood.  This was also a boiling point for the Native Americans along the way.  Over time whole groves of woods were depleted, changing the character of the land.  With the removal of the trees animals had no place to shelter – what few were left.  The land eroded and blew away.  But this is an element of the migration that is seldom explored.

Before the westward expansion of the railroad there were along the larger waterways the steamboat.  These required large amounts of cut timber for fire wood.  All along the rivers would be fueling points where cut wood would be taken aboard.  Large crews of timber cutters were employed to fell trees and cut them into lengths of usable fuel.  Once again large tracts of forests were depleted.  First timber near the river was cut ,then later it had to be cut and hauled by wagon – big business was built up around the industry based on lucrative contracts.  Often the cutting parties were the subject of Indian attacks, Not as interesting as an attract on a fort or wagon train, so these were ignored by the movies, and so we remain ignorant of them today. (more…)

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