A Famous American
During its time, American Lumberman was the leading periodical read by timber men and many other industrialists across the country. The following article was printed on front page of the American Lumberman April 26, 1913. Many of the points addressed in this editorial hold true today.
Ask the ordinary lumberman what American wood is most famous of all and the answers will vary. One may say white pine, another may say oak, on the Pacific coast they may name fir or redwood; but another citizen of our forests has a claim to recognition that is worthy of consideration. It is that sturdy tree whose company name is Pinus palustris, known at home as Georgia Pine or longleaf yellow pine but abroad as Pitch Pine.
It is a great traveler-Pinus palustris-and is welcomed in many countries. White pine figures but little in the exports of the United States; its great volume of supply and demand is largely a thing of the past. But pitch pine is today the American wood most in demand abroad and has been one of the leaders in wood exports for 200 years.
Last year oak was exported to the extent of 255,000,000 feet. American oak is used abroad not because it is especially preferred to other oaks, for almost every country will say that it is as good, but because it is available in quantities and at a price not to be equaled elsewhere. The exportations of Douglas fir were 637,000,000 feet last year. That wood is the main dependence of all the countries bordering the Pacific. The exports of the white pine were only 26,000,000 feet, showing its decline from its ancient prominence, but pitch pine exports were 790,000,000 feet.
In dozens of countries where other American woods are hardly known, pitch pine is a familiar article of commerce and commonly used in construction and manufactures. Its range of use on the eastern side of the Atlantic is from Scotland and Sweden on the north to Cape Town on the south, even going around the Cape of Good Hope to Delagoa Bay and entering the Mediterranean. On the west side of the Atlantic it is distributed from the St. Lawrence River to the straits of Magellan. It is a wood of strength if not especially one of beauty; but its sterling qualities fit it for so many uses for which is available no other material that it has this wonderful range of distribution and volume of demand.
This almost worldwide fame of Pinus palustris is no new thing. Almost as soon as the beautiful white pine of New England began to be expropriated by the English Government for its navy, and immediately following the development of commerce in that wood, pitch pine began to be exported from Savannah, Brunswick, and Darien, all in Georgia. The last is a name that would hardly be known as that of an American port but for pitch pine, while Brunswick has it chief fame, and its only fame abroad, because of its exports of pitch pine. But lumber and timbers of size and strength have not been the only products of the longleaf forests. Chiefly from this wood has been developed our century-old business in naval stores.
It is still, next to the chief species of the Pacific coast, the wood of greatest supply, and its range of growth is greatest, so far as solid bodies of it are concerned, of any wood. Compared to it the splendid forests of northern white pine (Pinus strobus) were limited in area. But pitch pine was native from southern Virginia south along the Atlantic seaboard and thence westward into Texas. Only one interval of account was found, and that was where the longleaf pine belt was cut across the by the Mississippi Valley.
Pitch pine is, in a way, a fastidious tree. It is a clean liver. It will have none of the deep delta lands built up from the sea or of the swamps. It prefers old continental soil. It lives on the uplands; though in places it can see its reflection in the waters of the Gulf where the ancient and modern shores are the same. It is fair to say that today, all things considered-supply, utility, demand and fame abroad-Pinus palustris is the reigning monarch of American woods. There are rivals, aspiring, making strong claims to the throne; but their primacy is not yet.