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When did the logging industry in America begin?

We all know the world was doing things before "America as we know it" got up and running, but this makes nailing down history a bit tricky, so I'm making things easier on myself for today's Daily Doodle and narrowing my logging industry search down to when did it started in America.


Interestingly enough, England was actually "running out of firewood" before the logging industry even began in America! The American logging industry began with the settlers in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. Shipbuilding fueled the need for lumber and the demand increased exponentially with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. By the early 1830s, Bangor, Maine, was the world's biggest shipping port for lumber, with over 8.7 trillion board feet moved out of the area between 1832 and 1888, according to the Patten Lumberman's Museum.


Throughout the 19th century, Americans headed west in search of new land and natural resources. The timber supply in the Midwest was dwindling, forcing loggers to seek new sources of "green gold." By the start of the 20th century, the Pacific Northwest was well on its way to becoming the place for quality timber. The region had its first sawmill in the late 1820s and by 1890, logging companies in Washington harvested over 1 billion board feet of timber annually, according to the Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest (CSPN) at the University of Washington. CSPN reports that in 1905, Washington became the top lumber-producing state in America and in 1926, the state's lumber harvest hit an all-time high of 7.6 billion board feet (by comparison, 4.1 billion feet of timber were harvested in 2000).


Early loggers and settlers cut timber near water and moved further away as the wood supply on that land was depleted. The water made it easy to move timber to mills as well as overseas. However, as loggers were forced to move inland to find more trees, they needed to develop new methods of transporting their product. They used horses and oxen (did you think of Paul Bunyan and Babe, his big blue ox?!) and crude railroads made from the very lumber they were harvesting. If they were near streams they could attach logs together and float them down the stream... and use them for log rolling contests of course:) These logs could ultimately be transported as far away as China and Australia.


Of course with the invention of chainsaws and harvesting machines the logging industry was changed. It is still a booming industry over 400 years later. An industry that has helped keep my hometown alive and the livelihood of my uncle. Do you know any loggers?





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