Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Biggest Lumber

Lumber is timber that is cut from forests and prepared for use in the construction of buildings, furniture, and wide variety of other products. More than 30 percent of the world’s commercial timberland is in the USSR, and about 18 percent is in North America. Both regions woods that are derived from conifers, or cone bearing industry largely dependent on softwoods imported from the United States, Canada, and USSR. Others, such as India, export valuable hardwoods, those usually derived from deciduous trees that lose their leaves in autumn. These include rosewood, mahogany, sandalwood, ebony, and teak. Softwood lumber, which constitute 80 percent of U.S. production, is used mostly for building houses, hardwood lumber is used primarily for furniture and floors.

Development of the Lumber Industry
The first steam-powered sawmill, built in 1663 in London, caused riots among sawyers who feared that such a machines would deprive them of jobs. Steam powered sawmills did not come into general use until the early 1800s. Most early sawmills were water powered and situated on rivers and steams where logs could easily be floated or rafted.

The U.S. lumber Industry began in New England, and by 1675 there were over 50 water-powered sawmills called “gang-mills” after the gang saws they used in northern Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, producing barrel staves and board lumber. The best Northeastern white pines were not sawed but were marked by the British as property of the king and were used for ships masts.

Timbering in the South began later, and after independence the U.S. Navy reserved much of the Southern forest lands for ship lumber.

After the Civil War, the lumber industry shifted to the lake states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. From 1870 to 1900 these states led the nation in lumber production. The huge tracts of white pine found in the lake state, however, were eventually logged over and converted to farmland. In addition, despite the considerable forests that remained unlogged, the lake states could be logged by on a seasonal basis, with cutting done in the fail and early winter, hauling during the winter, and transportation to mills in the spring when the rivers were at their fullest.

In the South forests could be harvested and logs moved to mills almost year-round, and huge, fast growing stands of timber were available for conversion to lumber. By 1930, however, the best timber had been cut, and the lumber Industry shifted to the West. To day the major lumber producing states are Oregon, California, Washington and Idaho.

The development of the lumber industry in Canada closely parallels that of the United States. The first Canada lumber was Exported to France in 1653 in the form of timbers up to 9 m (30 ft) long, hewed and squared with a broadax.

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