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there a lumber industry intended for consumption away from home. When timber fit for construction purposes had become exhausted in many places, such lumbering on a large scale became a necessity, and from that time on the relations between man and the forest underwent a revolution. Hitherto the forest was the dominant element; man had to adapt himself to its nature if he wanted to sustain life within it, and the strange backwoods type of civilization was the result. Now man became stronger than the wilderness. He began to carry all the appliances of his industrial and commercial life into the very depths of the forest. Partly through his deliberate intent, partly by means of unintended consequences of his acts, he disturbed the life processes which had for many ages determined the character of American woods, and created new conditions to which the forest, or so much of it as was not directly destroyed by the invaders, had to adapt itself or perish.
The men who wrought this change were the sons of the backwoodsmen. Not a few of them had themselves spent their youth under backwoods conditions. It was not surprising that they did not at once realize the changed relations in which they stood to the forest. The backwoodsman, to be sure, derived his sustenance from the woods, but he did so by destroying them. To his eyes, the fall of a tree was the rise of civilization. The ugly, repulsive look of his clearing, with the fire-blackened stumps, or worse, the tree trunks still standing upright but killed by girdling, the unkempt, rude aspect of his cabin, were for him the cheerful signs of victory over hostile nature. The woods were to him something to be got rid of, if such a thing was possible. There was for him no sentimental regret over a felled forest giant, no elegiac tones in the song of the axe. But on the other hand the forest was for him a fact of most stubborn character. He had travelled through it, slowly toiling along the trail, carrying his pack of provisions to sustain life, or gliding down the interminable windings of the river. He knew how large it was. East and west, north and south, he knew that forest extended for hundreds and hundreds of miles. He was but too well aware what slow work it was to make a clearing but a few acres in extent, that would hardly be noticed in the vast expanse of woods. The idea that the area of this forest could ever be diminished by human hands to any appreciable extent, so that people would become afraid of not having woodland enough to supply them with the needed lumber, would have seemed an utter absurdity to him. To be sure, where settlers came in thick and fast, the forest might disappear and farms take its place; but then there would always be plenty of timber a few miles farther on. Thus the legend arose of the inexhaustible supply of lumber in American forests, a legend which only within the last twenty years has given place to juster notions.
It would have been too much to expect that these ideas with regard to the forest created by three generations of backwoods life would not influence the manner in which the lumber industry was carried on. No doubt it would have been well for the American people if the better methods of felling, methods that had a conservative regard for the reproduction and continued existence of the forest, could have been adopted when lumbering on a large scale first began. But such a thing was impossible. It could have been done if the pioneer lumbermen had known what we know now,—that the natural supply of lumber would be sufficient for our needs for less than a hundred years. It could have been done, above all, if those pioneers had held the same attitude to the forest which we hold, who live in cities and among well tilled fields. We stand on the outside, and can see many things which they who dwelt within the forest could not see. Remember that those pioneers were the sons of backwoodsmen who had struggled for life with those very forests we blame them for destroying.
Let us not quarrel with that sturdy race for the harm they have unintentionally done us, for we owe them too much. Remember that hundreds of cities, from Pittsburgh to St. Louis, and a million rich and smiling farms, are lying on the grounds where our backwo'ods predecessors counted each tree that succumbed to their axes a victory for civilization.
Times have changed, and the tasks of this generation are different from those of the last. Their duty was to make room for human life where wild nature reigned supreme. Ours it is to bring conquered nature into harmony with the higher, fuller life of humanity, lest the roots of that life be severed and die. Woe unto us and our posterity if we fail to do our duty as well as our. fathers did theirs!
THE FOREST INDUSTRIES
NEXT to agriculture the forest industries stand first in importance to the people of the United States, while the various forms of mining, including such occupations as brickmaking and the like, rank but third. By forest industries I mean, not merely lumbering, but all those industries which obtain from forests either finished products for consumption or raw material for manufacturing branches. It would be useless to insert in this book columns of statistics to illustrate these facts. Those who care to study them can find them easily in publications printed for that purpose. Nor can we attempt to give a complete enumeration of the various products which besides lumber are furnished by the woods. A few of the most important ones we may specify, and each reader will find it easy to add to the list.
First, there are a number of things of widespread use which are very apt to escape the census taker altogether because they are mostly made on a small scale for local consumption, not rarely by the consumer himself. Such is fencing material of all kinds. The old-fashioned zigzag rail fence