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November 1999


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Wayne Miller <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 27 Nov 1999 01:43:37 GMT
text/plain (58 lines)
Dear Tom,
I cut pulp in the '60's. While hemlock fetched $30/cord, spruce and pine
$27/cord, we couldn't afford to pay the 'stumpage' or fee to the landowner
to cut on their lands, so we cut a good deal of 'piss elm' for which we got
$20/cord. This was when Dutch elm disease was really taking hold, but the
dying trees were not yet rotten. My partner's father owned the land,
tractor, and chain saw. So my partner not only got the lion's share of the
proceeds after we paid the trucker to haul it to the paper mill, but he got
to be on the saw virtually all the time. As the one who got to load those
four foot chunks that could weight 300 pounds or more, I can attest to the
fact that elm is not only a hardwood, but extremly dense. Paper mills can
use virtually any wood to make paper, and do if the price is right.

I have seen pictures of large areas in the Franklin County towns of
Brandon, Bellmont, Waverly, and Santa Clara where mature vigin forests had
been completely removed during the last quarter of the last century.
Lumbermen only removed sawlogs, trees generally 18" or larger in diameter.
Pulpers were not so selective. Once they were finished removing virtually
every tree down to sapling size from large tracks, paper companies owning
the land often traded this land with the State for forested land. This was
one of the practices that outraged people like Paul Smith, Seneca Ray
Stoddard, and Teddy Roosevelt. They were among the many who's agitation and
lobbying led to the creation of the Adirondack Park and the 'Forever Wild'
constitutional amendment.

Wayne Miller

Thomas W. Perrin writes:

> As one whose summer job was cutting pulp and lumber at the age of 14 in the
> 1950's, I can tell you that we NEVER cut hardwood for pulp.  The tree of choice
> was poplar (pronounced popple) which had to be debarked using a "spud" cut from an
> old car or truck spring.  Popple would grow anywhere, even on coal tips (in
> Scranton, PA for example).  Even though it's a deciduous tree, it's considered a
> softwood.  If we were hard up, we would cut Hemlock, which was a bit paradoxical,
> because it was a heavier and denser tree than spruce or poplar.
> The hardwoods (maple, oak, cherry) we saved for the lumber mill, and we took only
> the best pieces because they commanded better prices.  We never clear cut, and in
> fact, I never observed clear cutting in the Adirondacks until the advent of more
> advanced machinery decades later.  In my day, we used chain saws, and a team of
> horses or a bulldozer to skid the logs out to a truck.  Clear cutting would not
> have been economical then using such primitive machinery. Saplings weren't worth
> our time, and cutting them would have been considered wasteful. I have no reason
> to believe that the economics of wood were any different in any of the decades
> prior to 1960 in the Adirondacks or its foothills.
> Tom Perrin
> Wayne Miller wrote:
> > Dear Philip,
> > I must disagree at least partially with this view, even though I realize
> > your knowledge in Adirondack land use is vast. At least on the edges of the
> > mountains, the advent of the sulfide process for making paper from
> > cellulose (wood) meant that trees of all sizes right down to saplings were
> > marketable.