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school with them in anything which concerns the lumber industry proper, the transporting and sawing of logs. Our appliances for transportation, aside from permanent roads, which we do not need as long as we do not care for forest reproduction, are far superior to those employed in Europe; the machinery of our sawmills causes admiration and astonishment to the foreign expert. When one visits our lumber towns he may at first wonder at the apparent waste, and ascribe it to crude methods, when he sees the immense accumulation of waste material, "slabs," and other debris encumbering the ground. But in reality everything is utilized for which there is a market or a use. Even the sawdust often serves as fuel in the mill, and is transported automatically from the saws to the fires. If there is some material thrown away which is saved in a European mill, it is because nobody will have it, just as, in felling, we must lose the tops and smaller branches, while the European lumberman binds them into faggots and can sell them for fuel.
The occupation of a lumberman, his life in camp and on the river drive, has a certain picturesque quality which has always made it attractive to the outsider. But before we attempt to sketch in outline some of the striking phases of this business, we ought to discuss two questions of very great importance to a proper understanding of the matters with which we have to deal. These are: How long will American forests be able to supply the demand for
lumber? and to what extent is it likely that substitutes will be found for the use of wood?
In the preceding chapter we have spoken of the legend, formerly so widely believed in, of the inexhaustible supply of merchantable timber in the primeval woods of the country. That story is no longer credited, and even the lumbermen are fully convinced now that the giving out of the original material is a mere question of time. Nowhere in North America is lumber fit for general building purposes cut from second-growth timber, that is, from timber which has grown from seedlings since the original trees have been removed. Where a second-growth crop of pine and other conifers is now harvested, it is being used in various manufacturing industries. Where lumbermen, cutting construction material, speak of "second growth," they merely refer to timber which they left standing thirty or forty years ago because the trees were then too small and they culled only the larger individuals. Exhaustion of timber supply, therefore, is, under present conditions, identical with exhaustion of the supply found in virgin or primeval forest.
A distinction must be made between exhausting the lumber supply of a whole country and that of a particular region. The former would be an undoubted national calamity; the latter may, under some circumstances, be a benefit. In the second part of this volume, when we come to speak of the manner in which our forest resources ought to be treated, we will have to impress upon the reader the importance of the principle that forests, unless for protective purposes, ought not to be maintained on land which could be utilized in a different way with greater profit to the owner. Therefore, it is not to be regretted if a region of great agricultural capabilities ceases to supply lumber and becomes a farming country. But it is otherwise where an area is denuded of its merchantable timber and henceforth lies as an idle waste, stocked at best with scrub and inferior species of trees—weeds, as the forester calls them. Unfortunately, a large part of what was once magnificent white pine forest is now in that condition. The eastern part of the white pine area, Maine and the rest of New England, New York, Pennsylvania, has long ago ceased to play a large part in the pine lumber market. The bulk of the white pine now produced comes from the Great Lakes country. But here, also, the end is near. In Michigan, where, twenty years ago, Saginaw was the centre of the greatest lumber industry in the world, the year 1882 marked the climax of the output. A rapid decline followed, and to-day Michigan pine lumbering on a large scale is practically at an end. Wisconsin reached its greatest output just ten years after Michigan. It still produces a very large quantity every year, though much less than in 1892. According to the most reliable estimates, it may still be an important factor in the pine lumber market for ten years, and then the end will have come here also. Minnesota is now the State in which the greatest quantity of merchantable pine is to be found. How long it will hold out is uncertain, but hardly more than twenty years, even with somewhat reduced output.
What will be the consequence of this exhaustion of white pine lumber? To the States immediately concerned it will mean that thousands of people who have made their living in the pineries and sawmills will have to go elsewhere; that others who have prospered by supplying the wants of the lumber crews must do the same or go into some other business. To some extent, agriculture will take the place of lumbering as the principal support of this section, but not altogether; for many large tracts from which the pine has been cut are quite unfit for farming. Even now there are in Michigan and Wisconsin many places, thriving villages and little cities fifteen years ago, which are now almost deserted, with the houses falling into ruin. The pine timber of the neighborhood has all been cut, the sawmill shut down, and with it prosperity disappeared.
Taking the country as a whole, the consequences of white pine disappearing will not be quite so bad. The place of this material will be taken, for all ordinary purposes, by the various kinds of southern pine, especially the long-leaved species (Pinus palustris), commonly called Georgia pine. This has already been done to a considerable extent. This is the reason why there has not been an appreciable rise in the price of white pine for lumber, notwithstanding the comparative scarcity of the material. How long the supply of the southern pine will hold out, nobody can foretell at present with any degree of certainty. In the first place, no one knows just how much there may be standing, and secondly, nobody can guess what the future demand may be. It may go on increasing at the tremendous rate at which it has done during the last quarter-century, or it may remain comparatively stationary. Probably the extreme limit, however, for supplying the market with original southern pine on a large scale is fifty years.
Whether the western conifers, the sugar pines, Douglas spruce, and other species, many of which produce construction lumber second only to white pine, will ever play an important part in lumber markets east of the Rocky Mountains is doubtful. They now supply the demand of the Pacific coast and several foreign countries, notably Australia. But it may be that the cost of transportation will keep them out of the eastern markets, even after the Nicaragua Canal shall have established cheap communication with the Atlantic seaboard.
As to hard-wood lumbering, the centre of that industry is now the great middle region, about the latitude of Kentucky and Tennessee, where the broad-leaved forests of the United States reach their finest development. However, there is also a great deal of hard-wood lumber produced in Michigan and Wisconsin,and even such comparatively deforested States as Ohio and Indiana still contribute