A BRIEF HISTORY OF HEART PINE
When the first settlers arrived in North America most of the southern landscape was dominated by longleaf pine trees. Longleaf Pine is the source of Heart Pine. These towering pines once covered more than 90 million acres of the southern United States. These Pines derived their strength from their extremely slow growth. Averaging only an inch of growth in diameter per year it took hundreds of years for these trees to reach maturity. As settlers reached the southern United States they
quickly realized the value of these trees. Because of its strength and availability heart pine became the choice lumber for housing, ship building, as well as bridge construction. In the 18th and 19th centuries as America began to become an economic power, Heart Pine became a leading export. The trees would be cut down and then the logs floated down rivers to the eastern coast. Upon arrival to eastern ports the logs would be loaded onto ships and transported to Europe. Greatly appreciated for its beauty, Heart Pine was very popular in Victorian style homes and hotels. Another valuable commodity derived from Heart Pine was turpentine. The towering pines would have “Cat Faces” cut into the trees and then the resin would be collected. Turpentine was in the naval stores industry as well as weatherproofing products, paints, soaps, and medicines.
HOW HEART PINE GOT TO THE RIVER BOTTOMS
By the 1860s the southern United States had only constructed about 2200 miles of railroad so the best way to transport the Heart Pine trees to the Sawmills was to float them down the rivers. The Suwannee River basin begins in the eastern plains of Georgia and flows through much of North Florida covering over 11,000 square miles. For more than 150 years the Suwannee River along with its tributaries, served as the main artery for transporting Heart Pine logs. Most Sawmills would be strategically located near these river systems. Logs would be stamped or branded for each particular sawmill. By the early 1900s the Heart Pine forest had been reduced from 90 million acres to about 10000. Only 5 percent of the original Virgin Heart Pine forest remains. Today the only true source of old growth heart pine is either Demolition Recovered ( wood recovered from old houses or buildings) or Sinkers ( logs that sank in the rivers on their way to the sawmills). Three Rivers Flooring Company specializes in recovering sinker logs from the Suwannee, Withalacoochee, and St. Johns Rivers . We help bring this beautiful and historic wood to you.