Where Have All the Pine Barrens Gone? Long Time Passing!

PINEY MIKE

Explorer
Jan 30, 2009
707
25
28
Bamber Lake
A short notice appeared on page 1 of the 9 May 1892 edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer:

South Jersey is shipping thousands of cords of wood to glass factories and brick plants in other States.

Now you know what many of those sawmill operators were doing out in the Pines!

Best regards,
Jerseyman
Why the heck would they want to burn pine?
 

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
22,426
4,365
1,093
Thank you for that Jerseyman! Now we need to find their sawmills :)


Guy
 

LARGO

Piney
Sep 7, 2005
1,525
77
1,028
49
Pestletown
Thank you for that Jerseyman! Now we need to find their sawmills :)
Guy
Not to hijack, and/or revive a thrilling thread but there are enough of those mill locations out there to be more than worthy of documenting and if memory serves, this is just the group capable of collectively doing it. I thought a couple years back where it would be a worthy venture and fun for all. This was a fascinating area of interest that played a role of depth spanning decades in the pines. They are fading fast and time and nature are claiming the remnant bases we all know so well. Documenting the portable mill locations by their base positioning and relevance to known and unknown sawmill owners could make for a fine publication. With great discretion, locations could be mapped and GPS recordings made and compared to correlate with known mill operations leading to the foundations of entire nomadic communities right here in Jersey. GOOD STUFF!!
There are so many so close to civilization, what fun would it be to have one as a conversation piece nearby for the novice pines historian.
Wouldn't it be just splendid to literally have one in one's own backyard?!
Sorry to ramble.

g.
 

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
22,426
4,365
1,093
Not to hijack, and/or revive a thrilling thread but there are enough of those mill locations out there to be more than worthy of documenting and if memory serves, this is just the group capable of collectively doing it. I thought a couple years back where it would be a worthy venture and fun for all.
g.
I have been doing that and just minutes ago may be onto another one from an email tip:)

Yea, nobody has one in their backyard :D

Guy
 
If this was cord-wood, logs usually chopped in 4-feet lengths for firewood, are sawmills necessarily involved? I've always associated the term cord as a fuel-use measurement. Are other lumber products measured in cordage?
Spungman:

No, sawmills are not necessarily involved, but, as the article states, if woodsmen are shipping thousands of cords out of state, that suggest a very high level of production, and the economy of scale offered through the use of a sawmill would not be lost on those processing the timber into cordwood.

Most lumber is measured in board feet, not cords, unless the wood processing specifically involves preparing the timber as a fuel, whether it be kilns or even charcoal production.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 
Not to hijack, and/or revive a thrilling thread but there are enough of those mill locations out there to be more than worthy of documenting and if memory serves, this is just the group capable of collectively doing it. I thought a couple years back where it would be a worthy venture and fun for all. This was a fascinating area of interest that played a role of depth spanning decades in the pines. They are fading fast and time and nature are claiming the remnant bases we all know so well. Documenting the portable mill locations by their base positioning and relevance to known and unknown sawmill owners could make for a fine publication. With great discretion, locations could be mapped and GPS recordings made and compared to correlate with known mill operations leading to the foundations of entire nomadic communities right here in Jersey. GOOD STUFF!!
There are so many so close to civilization, what fun would it be to have one as a conversation piece nearby for the novice pines historian.
Wouldn't it be just splendid to literally have one in one's own backyard?!
Sorry to ramble.

g.

George:

You may highjack when ready, Gridley! By all means you may take this thread as far as you wish, based on the direction you are already heading! Reflecting on our recent email exchange, I can see the wheels spinning in your head and I fully support your contention that these sites should be photo-documented and mapped using GPS, along with the preparation of a detailed sketch of the site and the artifactual remains. If we can compile a collection of documentation, we can begin to discern patterns in construction and develop a typology of technology. So, I think we need an ad hoc committee to begin the process. I would be happy to draft some basic guidelines for the on-site documentation effort, if you think it would be helpful.

Let me know how I can assist!

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 
Why the heck would they want to burn pine?
PINEY MIKE:

While I did state we now know what many of those sawmill operators were doing out in the Pines, I used the term “Pines” in the generic sense and meant not to imply the mills were processing pinewood. While that is a possibility, I think it much more likely the cordwood producers shipped hardwoods like oak. There are facts not in evidence here, including the genus and species of trees actually being cut.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

LARGO

Piney
Sep 7, 2005
1,525
77
1,028
49
Pestletown
Here's a nice one for you to view. I have it's particulars on file and will provide to Guy in the hopes that it adds to the chain of information that will define these mill sites and their rich history.


g.
 

PINEY MIKE

Explorer
Jan 30, 2009
707
25
28
Bamber Lake
PINEY MIKE:

While I did state we now know what many of those sawmill operators were doing out in the Pines, I used the term “Pines” in the generic sense and meant not to imply the mills were processing pinewood. While that is a possibility, I think it much more likely the cordwood producers shipped hardwoods like oak. There are facts not in evidence here, including the genus and species of trees actually being cut.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
Gotcha. Much of the pines is exactly just that with a bit of scrub oak and cedar, but certainly as you hit the outskirts there are other species. I thought you meant the pine itself. I guess even pine is certainly used as fuel as well in some areas. Cant imagine people living in parts of the NW shipping in oak and maple to burn when they have all those strains of pine surrounding them. When in Rome..
 

Boyd

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Jul 31, 2004
7,428
1,457
1,093
Ben's Branch, Stephen Creek

Spung-Man

Explorer
Jan 5, 2009
930
564
93
60
Richland, NJ
loki.stockton.edu
I have been doing that and just minutes ago may be onto another one from an email tip:)

Yea, nobody has one in their backyard :D

Guy
There were oodles of sawmills throughout the Pines, at least six in Richland alone if the hoop-pole factory is included. Two were in my “backyard”: 1) Uncle Jenk Evans’ Model T-driven mill; and 2) the Lafferty diesel-powered mill. The latter was built (c.1935) during the Great Depression of materials scavenged from Harry Lafferty’s earlier Pancoast Mill that burned down during a Dust Bowl drought forest fire. Harry’s Richland product line was similar to that of the earlier Pancoast Mill product line (and that of an even earlier Lafferty Mitzpah mill): shingles, siding, lath, 2X4s, with a specialty in making 4’ featheredge (backing board for siding). Cedar shavings were used on our farm for poultry bedding since oak chip litter supported lice! Cedar chips were also strewn on bar, gas station, schoolroom, and general store floors.

When you wanted to build a house or chicken coop, you simply brought Harry a want-list, paying off each segment as you went through framing, sheathing, flooring, etc. Account settled and lumber for the next was released. Good logs were always hard to get. Pitch pine, shortleaf pine, and loblolly pine were the primary species used in that order, followed by Atlantic whitecedar. Oak had little value except for boatbuilding and blacksmithing (i.e., wagon and truck carriages). Have you ever tried to nail a piece of oak, especially dried? Petrified wood. Uncle Jenk specialized in pignut hickory for tool handles and moving mechanical parts.

A sawyer worked in all kinds of weather, 6-days a week without vacations. Being a Welsh settlement, on Sabbath you sat on the porch. Work of any kind was forbidden on Sunday, a Sabbath literally enforced by shotgun. The mill closed a couple days for major holidays. Workers were paid by the hour, and there was no compensation for frequent injuries. Opium based laudanum cough syrup from the general store was medicine enough, later booze. They were a rough, tough bunch. Besides, who could afford a lawyer to sue?

I interviewed Harry’s son Irvin “Cricket” in 1999, and have much more documentation including a series of photos taken by a neighboring farmer during the 1950s documenting the operation. Cricket worked at our family feed mill in Richland. It’s another story ripe for documentation. Maybe if I get up an hour before going to bed…

Figure 1. Excelsior exiting a rear hatch at the back of the Lafferty sawmill, fine wood shavings used for packing glass (c.1950).
 

Attachments

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
22,426
4,365
1,093
Actually Guy has included four of these old sawmill locations in the POI data which he contributed to my Map of the Pines. See this thread for download info: http://forums.njpinebarrens.com/showthread.php?t=5929

With the map loaded on your GPS, search for "saw" and you will find them.
All,

When I get a minute I will start a post with a photo of each sawmill I know about along with the GPS coordinates. I will not post the coordinates of the mills on private property and the one wooden base one I found. I will give credit to those individuals who told me of the ones I did not find myself.

Guy
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
11,814
2,252
1,093
Pines; Bamber area
There were oodles of sawmills throughout the Pines, at least six in Richland alone if the hoop-pole factory is included.
Great story Mark. As all of your stories are. Really good stuff. When I moved into Bamber in '82 I overhauled my living room. The Double Trouble sawmill was still running with a diesel engine. They cut the beams for my living room project to order right in front of me. My God, the smell of fresh cut Atlantic White cedar is intoxicating. It invokes all sorts of good things. I would get it done at night after work. The single bulb or two in the the mill, the whine of the saw, and the anticipation with how it would look nailed up are fond memories.
 
Great story Mark. As all of your stories are. Really good stuff. When I moved into Bamber in '82 I overhauled my living room. The Double Trouble sawmill was still running with a diesel engine. They cut the beams for my living room project to order right in front of me. My God, the smell of fresh cut Atlantic White cedar is intoxicating. It invokes all sorts of good things. I would get it done at night after work. The single bulb or two in the the mill, the whine of the saw, and the anticipation with how it would look nailed up are fond memories.
I agree about the smell of White Cedar being intoxicating. I worked for more than a year at Batsto sawmill back in the mid 70's. We mostly cut cedar for the restoration of the workers cottages. We made bundles of shingles and as a result, made and bailed "doghair" (excelsior). It was a great place to eat lunch by the tailrace sitting on the bales with just the sound of the running water and the wind! During the week, we didn't have many visitors (other than the occasional school bus trip). We also occasionally blocked and planed pine for door lintels. That was another olfactory excusion!
 

LARGO

Piney
Sep 7, 2005
1,525
77
1,028
49
Pestletown
I agree about the smell of White Cedar being intoxicating. I worked for more than a year at Batsto sawmill back in the mid 70's. We mostly cut cedar for the restoration of the workers cottages. We made bundles of shingles and as a result, made and bailed "doghair" (excelsior). It was a great place to eat lunch by the tailrace sitting on the bales with just the sound of the running water and the wind! During the week, we didn't have many visitors (other than the occasional school bus trip). We also occasionally blocked and planed pine for door lintels. That was another olfactory excusion!
That is magnificent! I would have loved to have had that experience especially back then. I think I'd be on Cedar drunk overload with that rich smell all day. After the noise of the mill in action, the water at lunch must have been pretty peaceful. Heck you were there when a number of folks still lived in the town yes? Did you ever know or meet Farmer Neil?
Good for you that you had that time. Thanks for sharing.

g.
 

Spung-Man

Explorer
Jan 5, 2009
930
564
93
60
Richland, NJ
loki.stockton.edu
Thanks for the kind words. Nothing smelled sweeter than the cedar-dust at Batsto sawmill! Have you noticed how warblers pluck Atlantic whitecedar bark off the trunk and line their nests with their bounty? I bet they too benefit from the aromatherapy, or at least get deloused in the process.

Excelsior bales can be seen in storage on Figure 1 (from last post). I have a number of delightful color photos of the works and harvesting, but want permission of my good neighbor who provided them before any are posted. The mill ceased operation in 1960 after the owner was seriously injured in a car accident. I barely remember the blackened bones of derelict buildings in the early ‘60s. Here’s another shot of mill grounds, courtesy of Cricket Lafferty.

Figure 2. Wood sheds at the Lafferty Sawmill, Main Avenue & the Cape May Branch, Richland, NJ. The worker in the picture is believed to be Frank Long, a bachelor who lived in a shack on premises.
 

Attachments