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is not yet a thing of the past. The modern wire fence may gradually supplant it—but that also needs posts to hang it on. Since fencing has gone forward on the treeless plains, a large trade in fence posts has even sprung up to supply this demand, while formerly fence posts were mostly used in the neighborhood where they were cut. Telegraph poles are another minor article of forest industry which yet is of large proportions in the aggregate; so is the supply of long logs for piles under the foundations of buildings. Railroad ties are consumed at an ever-increasing rate. Hop poles, bean poles, Christmas trees find ready sales in many places. These and various other products of the woods have the peculiarity that even in this age of machinery and production on a large scale they are still, to a very great extent, supplied by the labor of individuals armed simply with axe and hand-saw. To the settler in forest regions the ready market he finds for such articles is a very great help during the period when his clearing has not yet become a farm, and even when agriculture proper has become his main occupation he can make many a dollar of cash by work of this kind in his timber-lot during unoccupied intervals. Shingles are now usually made by machinery, but in many parts of the country it still pays to make them by hand for local consumption.
Charcoal making is a forest industry which employs not a little capital and a great many workmen. It is still, to a great extent, carried on by the primitive process of the old-fashioned kiln, but better methods are now being introduced. The making of wood alcohol and other products of dry distillation is an increasing business, and while the market for such wares will always be limited, the demand must increase with the progress of the industrial arts in which such things are used. The ancient industry of making pitch and the like is flourishing in many parts of the southern pine regions, as is the making of turpentine, which is produced mostly from the long-leaved pine of the South. While the forest products just mentioned have been known to man for thousands of years, modern industrial civilization has added a number of entirely new forms of utilizing forest products. One of these is the making of excelsior, the narrow strips of shavings which everybody now knows as a packing material. The making of boxes and packages of all kinds, from heavy dry-goods cases to the little thin-walled berry boxes, has also become an important industry within quite recent years, and opened a market for many kinds of wood, such as poplar, which was formerly considered quite worthless. But the most astonishing case of the rise of a new industry is the making of wood pulp for paper, which was quite in its infancy twenty years ago, but now produces goods of the value of more than a hundred million dollars annually. There are two methods of making wood pulp, one by mechanical grinding, the other by the application to the wood of various acids and other chemicals. In both of these processes the wood most largely used is spruce, but poplar, basswood, hemlock, and several other kinds also enter into the consumption.
A very important product of forest industry is bark for tanning purposes. There are in the United States a number of trees the bark of which may be used in making leather, notably several species of oak. But by far the most important tree of this kind in North America is the hemlock. The hemlock industry, by the way, furnishes a striking illustration of how the American forests have, since the coming of the railroads, been drawn into the circle of the world's commerce. One of the centres of tan-bark production is the eastern portion of Central and Northern Wisconsin. Within a few years large tanneries have there been set up in the very midst of the forest, and raw hides are brought there from Argentina to be treated with the bark of the trees growing near by.
Side by side with the wood-pulp and the tanbark industries,—each of them in a different way illustrating phases of the most modern economic development,—the most primitive of all forest industries still remains one of the most important of all. That is the cutting and consumption of fire-wood. Although there are many places, even within heavily wooded territory, where the use of coal and various kinds of fuel has almost entirely superseded the use of wood for heating and cooking purposes, yet it is probably correct that an overwhelming majority of the American people is still dependent on this most primitive of all fuels. This refers especially to the rural population, but also in a large degree to the villages and smaller cities. Statistics leave one utterly in the lurch when he tries to realize the extent of fire-wood consumption: for the greater portion of it takes place in the homes of the producers themselves, while wood which is sold goes ordinarily direct from the man who cuts it to the person that uses it. Consequently there is no middleman to whom the census taker could apply for information. Generally speaking, the price of fire-wood is limited, in this country, to the cost of cutting and hauling it. But there are exceptions in favored localities, especially near large towns. For instance, the management of the celebrated Biltmore forest in North Carolina, which will repeatedly be mentioned in these pages, has during recent years made enough out of the sale of fire-wood to pay the considerable expense of managing that property according to silvicultural methods. In some parts of the country the railway locomotives are still using wood for fuel, and in a few manufacturing branches wood is preferred to coal.
Turning now to the lumber industry proper, we must distinguish between two principal branches of it, which almost, though not entirely, coincide with the popular distinction between hard woods and soft woods. Among hard woods are included the kinds of lumber coming from broad-leaved trees, although some of these, like basswood and poplar, are not at all hard when treated with cutting tools. Several species of hard wood are widely used in building, for floors, wainscoting, and interior finish in general. But the larger portion of this branch of lumber is consumed in the various manufacturing industries, such as furniture making, carriage building, and the like. The other great division of lumbering is the production of building timber, obtained principally from coniferous trees and indiscriminately called soft wood, although some kinds are harder and heavier than many woods from broad-leaved trees. Of this the American people consume larger quantities than any other nation, for the reason that houses built mainly of wood are still the rule with us, while in Western and Central Europe wooden houses are practically unknown. On account of our prevalent fashion of building "frame" houses, we consume most of our lumber in the shape of boards. In Europe, so far as wood enters into the construction of house walls at all, it is used in the shape of beams, while the use of boards is confined principally to floors and other interior work. These facts are important to know when one attempts to compare the lumber industries of two countries, and their neglect would lead to very erroneous conclusions.