Timeless Timber: History

ambience: Violin folk tune


In the mid-1800’s, lumberjacks in the Midwest would routinely move logs through water to reach sawmills. Little did they know that in the 21st century, some of the logs that went astray would end up as valuable musical instruments — like the violin we’re listening to right now. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. Before the advent of railways, just about anything traveling long distance went by water, and that included logs.

“Every year, when wood had to move, it had to move by water. It was the only form of transportation. That’s why the mills were built on the lakeshore, because they were rafted over from Canada down the rivers to the big lake , and then to their respective mills. While being held, also during transportation, they would take on water and the bark would get saturated enough to where a certain percentage would sink to the bottom every year.”

It was at the bottom of Lake Superior that scuba diver Scott Mitchen found some century-old logs and started a company called Timeless Timber. He says the wood that he now regularly retrieves is of better quality than the lumber available today. The timber is being used to make everything from fine furniture to musical instruments. Some of the underwater wood dates back to the colonial era, and was cut into square lengths of timber.

“In the late 1700’s, when Europe depleted their resources, they sent their crews over to the east coast and they hewed into squares these massive white oaks and red birches — hand-hewed them into squares so they could fit them into the ship’s hold. They could fit more in. Well, thousands of these things sank. These are real special because the stamp that I have on the logs that I bring up from the 1850’s tell the story of the lumberjack era here, and these logs have the King’s stamp on them.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.


Timeless Timber: History

In the mid-1800's, lumberjacks would routinely float logs through the water to the sawmill. Some of the logs that went astray and sank are now very valuable.
Air Date:11/13/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:

ambience: Violin folk tune


In the mid-1800's, lumberjacks in the Midwest would routinely move logs through water to reach sawmills. Little did they know that in the 21st century, some of the logs that went astray would end up as valuable musical instruments -- like the violin we're listening to right now. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. Before the advent of railways, just about anything traveling long distance went by water, and that included logs.

"Every year, when wood had to move, it had to move by water. It was the only form of transportation. That's why the mills were built on the lakeshore, because they were rafted over from Canada down the rivers to the big lake , and then to their respective mills. While being held, also during transportation, they would take on water and the bark would get saturated enough to where a certain percentage would sink to the bottom every year."

It was at the bottom of Lake Superior that scuba diver Scott Mitchen found some century-old logs and started a company called Timeless Timber. He says the wood that he now regularly retrieves is of better quality than the lumber available today. The timber is being used to make everything from fine furniture to musical instruments. Some of the underwater wood dates back to the colonial era, and was cut into square lengths of timber.

"In the late 1700's, when Europe depleted their resources, they sent their crews over to the east coast and they hewed into squares these massive white oaks and red birches -- hand-hewed them into squares so they could fit them into the ship's hold. They could fit more in. Well, thousands of these things sank. These are real special because the stamp that I have on the logs that I bring up from the 1850's tell the story of the lumberjack era here, and these logs have the King's stamp on them."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.