Ancient Cedar Logs

Furball1

Explorer
Dec 11, 2005
378
1
Florida
Another topic that has fascinated me since I was a kid. I would absolutely love to witness this "mining" process and see the ancient trees.
 

Attachments

  • 106197443.pdf
    118.8 KB · Views: 333

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
23,149
5,027
Great article. I remember someone else a while ago mentioning this. I wonder if they have all been found?

Guy
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
12,225
2,458
Pines; Bamber area
Great article. I remember someone else a while ago mentioning this. I wonder if they have all been found?

Guy


I second that; a great article. And no, they have not all been found. If they found one by accident at 90 feet, many more lie undisturbed.
 

LARGO

Piney
Sep 7, 2005
1,540
112
50
Pestletown
Fascinating stuff, thanks for that link Furball.
Yes Guy, there was some talk on this. The Sawmill thread perhaps.
In my travels in reading I found a number of notes on a type of logging and milling unlike any other. These fellows would pound with board or steel rod till finding something and then with saw and manpower, bring it up from below the waters. This article is a wonderful example. A testament to cedar as well... these trees were/are countless hundreds of years old and come up from the muck just as fresh as you please. Incredible tree.

g.
 

MarkBNJ

Piney
Jun 17, 2007
1,878
70
Long Valley, NJ
www.markbetz.net
Up in the woods northwest of Ottawa where my folks have a house and some land, they drag old cedar logs off the bottom of the Gatineau river. My Dad bought some of this milled into six-inch wide floorboards. It's beautiful stuff.
 
Great topic, Furball!!

Here is an account of the cedar mining from the 1855 Geological Report—contemporaneous with the mining operations—and complete with the engravings:

Kitchell, William, Superintendent and State Geologist
Second Annual Report on the Geological Survey of the State of New Jersey, for the Year 1855. Trenton, New Jersey: Office of the True American, 1856.

Pages 103 through 106, with engravings

The Cedar Swamps are a remarkable feature in the forests of southern New Jersey. They are common in all the counties south of Monmouth, but probably the most extensive are in Cape May, and the adjoining parts of Cumberland and Atlantic counties. The Cedar Swamp creek, which runs into Tuckahoe river, and Dennis creek, which runs into Delaware bay, head in the same swamp, and the whole length of the two streams, a distance of seventeen miles, is one continuous swamp. The wood is the white cedar, the Cuppressus thyoides of the botanist. The original growth of trees which covered these swamps at the first settlement, has all be cut off; scarcely any are now to be found more than one hundred years old, and it is usual to cut them at fifty or sixty years. Formerly they attained great age. Mr. Chas. Ludlam counted seven hundred rings of annual growth in an old tree, which was living when cut down, and Dr. Beesley counted 1080 in another. The trees stand very thick upon the ground and grow rapidly at first, but as they increase in size and crowd each other, the tops become thin, and the annual growth exceedingly small. The rings near the centre of a large cedar log are often almost an eighth of an inch in thickness, while those near the bark are not thicker than paper. Trees four or five feet in diameter have been found, but this is uncommon, and in the second growth timber they are much smaller.

Cape_May_County_Cedar_Swamp_no_1.jpg


The accompanying cut [no. 1, above] was made from the drawing of a swamp of ninety years growth. A swamp of sixty years growth will yield from 4000 to 7000 split rails, halves and quarters; besides the top poles, or cullings, and a considerable number of logs for sawing. And in the older swamps, the produce is proportionally large. The value of an acre of such timber is from $400 to $1000, and some acres are thought to have yielded a larger sum still. The soil in which these trees grow is a black, peaty earth, composed of vegetable matter, which when dry will burn. This earth is of various depths, from two or three feet up to twenty or more—and the trees which grow on it have their roots extending through it in every direction near the surface, but not penetrating to the solid ground. When this earth is open to the sun and rains, it decays rapidly, but when covered with a growth of trees, and so shaded that the sun does not penetrate to the ground, it increases rapidly from the annual fall of leaves, and from the twigs and small trees which die and fall. Mr. Charles Ludlam recently found a log sawed off at both ends, which was entirely buried in the swamp. It was about a foot in diameter, and he knows that it was cut fifty or sixty years since. This process of covering and preserving timber has been going on for a long time. Trees are found buried in this peaty earth at all depths, quite down to solid ground. The buried logs are quite sound, the bark on the under side of many of them is still fresh in appearance, the color of the wood is preserved, and its buoyancy retained. When these logs are raised and floated in water, it is observed that the side which was down in the swamp is uppermost. The buried trees are some of them found with their roots upturned, as if blown down by wind, and others are broken off as if they had stood and decayed, till too weak to support their own weight.

Fallen_Timber_in_Cedar_Swamp_no_2.jpg


The accompanying view [no. 2, above], taken in the swamp of Mr. Henry Ludlam, will give an idea of the manner in which the logs lie. It, of course, can show only a few of the uppermost ones; and these are unusually well exhibited, the swamp having bee cut off fifty years ago, and its surface much decayed by exposure to the sun and rain during that time.

The most prominent object in this drawing is a large log, which is seen extending across from one side to the other; another log partly decayed lies across it, and underneath another appears, which has had a piece cut off for working into shingles; other logs are also seen, lying some over, others under those already mentioned. To the right of the large log is a stump, which has its roots running under the log, showing that it is as old, or older, than the fallen tree; to the left, and partly on the log, with one of its large roots growing across, another old and decayed stump is seen. From its position, we may safely infer that the latter has grown, died, and decayed, since the large tree fell.

These logs are so abundant in some parts of the swamp, and in the salt marshes bordering on them, that a large number of men are constantly occupied in raising and splitting them into shingles. In Mr. Ludlam’s swamp, this business was commenced fifty years ago, and has been carried on every year since, and though the logs are not quite so plenty as at first, enough are still found to repay the workmen. The size of the logs is from one and a half to three feet, though four feet is not uncommon, and I have hear of them five or six, and in one instance seven feet in diameter. Occasionally a log is found that will work for thirty feet, but generally the length is less than this.

In searching for logs, the workman uses an iron rod, which he thrusts into the mud till it strikes one; then, by repeated trials, he judges of its direction, size, and length. The next trial is by digging down, and if possible getting a chip from it. By the smell of this, the experienced shingler can tell whether the tree is a windfall or a breakdown, or in other words whether it was blown up by the roots, or broken off. If judged to be worth working, the stumps, roots, and turf, are removed from over the log, and the earth dug out. The trench which is thus made, of course, is full of water. There being no grit in the earth, tools can be used in it without injury, and the logs are rapidly sawn off by a one handled cross-cut saw, which can be worked directly into the soft earth. As soon as the log is cut off, and loosened by means of levers, it rises and floats in the water. It is then divided into shingle cuts, quartered, and thrown out to be split into shingles, and shaved; when it is ready for market.

Sawing_Cedar-Logs_and_Making_Shingles_no_3.jpg


Raising_or_Mining_Buried_Cedar_Timber_no_4.jpg


The annexed drawings [nos. 3 and 4, above] show the different operations in this singular business. That in the swamp shows the floated log being cut into shingle lengths, and the shaving of shingles going on in the background. The view in the salt marsh shows the stumps still standing; also the operation of cutting off a log, preparatory to raising; and the splitting up of another log.

It is said that for five years past the average number of these shingles, sent from Dennisville, is not far from 600,000 a year. They are worth from $13 to $15 a thousand. About 200,000 white cedar rails have been sent from the same place this year [1855]. They are worth from $8 to $10 a hundred.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
12,225
2,458
Pines; Bamber area
Thanks Jerseyman. That was great. I love cedar and cedar swamps. I have seen big cedars down deep in Cedar Creek. I'll be there is mining to be had in some parts of this area. I always wanted to explore Dennisville and the Tuckahoe. Someday I will, you betcha.
 

ChrisNJ

Explorer
Jan 31, 2006
149
0
Medford
Great thread, I always loved reading about the old growth logs being dragged up from the bottom of rivers. This is even more exciting as its so close to home, sounds cool how deep the soil is in the cedar swamps and how they lack grit so that you can saw right in them. Makes me wanna go digging for a big old growth cedar log :-O
 

Furball1

Explorer
Dec 11, 2005
378
1
Florida
Thanks Jerseyman. That was great. I love cedar and cedar swamps. I have seen big cedars down deep in Cedar Creek. I'll be there is mining to be had in some parts of this area. I always wanted to explore Dennisville and the Tuckahoe. Someday I will, you betcha.

I agree, thanks for the illustrations, Jerseyman. I noticed your geological report is from 1855, yet the NYT article is from 1888---why do you think the long time between publication dates? Obviously the author of the NYT article plucked his info from the geological report, nearly verbatim! Can you imagine a Cedar over a 1000 years old!
 

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
23,149
5,027
Thanks Jerseyman! The best line is:

By the smell of this, the experienced shingler can tell whether the tree is a windfall or a breakdown, or in other words whether it was blown up by the roots, or broken off.

Imagine knowing that by the smell.

Guy
 

Furball1

Explorer
Dec 11, 2005
378
1
Florida
Thanks Jerseyman! The best line is:

By the smell of this, the experienced shingler can tell whether the tree is a windfall or a breakdown, or in other words whether it was blown up by the roots, or broken off.

Imagine knowing that by the smell.

Guy

I'd be willing to PAY to smell that!!!!!!!!!!!!!:rofl:
 

LARGO

Piney
Sep 7, 2005
1,540
112
50
Pestletown
Jerseyman,
The content of the text is fabulous, thank you. Great details.
The images though really ice the cake. History captured.

The smell, wow. How 'bout bringing up something such as these trees so old and catching an aroma older than generations. Fresh as nature intended
from the beginnings of a thing that oversaw civilization occupy it's lands.
Some gone and hiding their secret long before same civilization encroached.
Good stuff.

g.
 
I agree, thanks for the illustrations, Jerseyman. I noticed your geological report is from 1855, yet the NYT article is from 1888---why do you think the long time between publication dates? Obviously the author of the NYT article plucked his info from the geological report, nearly verbatim! Can you imagine a Cedar over a 1000 years old!

Furball:

Although I’m sure The New York Times readership enjoyed this article in 1888, but—dare I say it—the text merely represents “filler” material for the columns of the paper. Hence, the liberal lifting of the 1855 geological report without any proper attribution. Some things never change—at The New York Times and elsewhere!!

Glad you all enjoyed the text and graphics from the report!! I love old engravings such as these!!

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,274
244
Near Mt. Misery
Thanks for posting this Jerseyman. The engravings were terrific!! Hey Bob, remember that bog I took you to off of 70, where I saw that big snapper? Do you recall an exceptionally large cedar burried below the mud as we waded across the bog. I recall that was a big one.

Jeff
 

Furball1

Explorer
Dec 11, 2005
378
1
Florida
Give me a whiff

Thanks for posting this Jerseyman. The engravings were terrific!! Hey Bob, remember that bog I took you to off of 70, where I saw that big snapper? Do you recall an exceptionally large cedar burried below the mud as we waded across the bog. I recall that was a big one.

Jeff

Now, if you guys did up a chunk of that wood, please wrap a piece of it in some saran wrap, I'll SEND YOU A PREPAID MAILER SO I CAN SMELL A THOUSAND YEARS AGO. Makes me quiver inside.
 

Furball1

Explorer
Dec 11, 2005
378
1
Florida
Yes!

Furball:

Although I’m sure The New York Times readership enjoyed this article in 1888, but—dare I say it—the text merely represents “filler” material for the columns of the paper. Hence, the liberal lifting of the 1855 geological report without any proper attribution. Some things never change—at The New York Times and elsewhere!!

Glad you all enjoyed the text and graphics from the report!! I love old engravings such as these!!

Best regards,
Jerseyman

Yes, some things do not change, Jerseyman---plagiarism in the buff---but at least he got the info correct!
 

jburd641

Explorer
Jan 16, 2008
410
13
Port Charlotte, Fl.
What a great thread! We're always checking out the history above the swamps and it's great to know there is so much below it too.
Whenever you complain about having to do something physical, just think hom hard those guys must have worked every day.
Thanks Furball and Jerseyman.

Jay
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
12,225
2,458
Pines; Bamber area
Thanks for posting this Jerseyman. The engravings were terrific!! Hey Bob, remember that bog I took you to off of 70, where I saw that big snapper? Do you recall an exceptionally large cedar burried below the mud as we waded across the bog. I recall that was a big one.

Jeff

I do dimly remember that Jeff. That was a neat day. We had a good time. I still plan on catching that son of a gun.
 
Apr 6, 2004
3,242
278
Galloway
This thread deserves to be revived.

I was reading More Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey last night, and in the chapter "Forests Underground", Beck mentions that the sumberged cedar logs were accidentally discovered by peat miners who were digging down to depths of twenty or thirty feet in order to get to the peat. My question is, why dig so deep for peat??
 

dragoncjo

Piney
Aug 12, 2005
1,374
105
39
camden county
Real interesting articles. I find it interesting that most of the white cedar swamps were in cape may county. I spend alot of time down there and quite honestly don't know of any real large intact cedar swamps....would have loved to seen it back then.
 
Top