A Seemingly Endless Sea
of Longleaf Pine Stumps
(bolded words in text
indicate key words and concepts)
It's hard to believe that in as little as 100 years ago, the South
changed from an endless longleaf pine forest to a sea of stumps
as far as the eye could see. However, by the early 1900's many areas
of the South began to look much like this picture. Logging companies
of that time cut nearly every tree in sight and wild pigs ate most
young longleaf pine seedlings that would have made the next forest.
The drama of the longleaf ecosystem is a classic example of over
consumption with little regard to sustainability-a
scene that was played out in many forests across North America.
In 1900, Dr. Carl Schneck, head of the Forestry Division of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture preached that the "virgin
forests in which the old and decrepit trees predominate
is unproductive. . .consequently the virgin forests should fall
and must fall." And fall they did. Little regard was given
to conservation of the longleaf pine forest at the time. The idea
was simply "cut out and get out".
This picture depicts the fate of many longleaf pine forests after
the period of mass logging. With seed sources cut, cattlemen burning
during a young longleaf pine's most vulnerable period, and feral
pigs feasting unchecked on longleaf pine seedlings, large areas
of the South became devoid of any trees.
Like the tree itself, the stumps of these cutout longleaf pines
were extremely flammable--earning them the nickname of "lightwood"
or "lighter wood" stumps
(even a wet stump could be ignited). The reason for this flammability
of these stumps, was due to
a high concentration of rosin.
Already across much of the longleaf pine range the tapping of living
longleaf pine trees for rosin was a huge economic enterprise. To
take advantage of the millions of acres of rosin rich stumps, methods
were devised to distill stumps into rosin and spirits of turpentine
products (called "stump woodin").
Smaller stumps were laboriously dug out by hand or mule and transported
to a distillery by oxen drawn wagons. The grip of more stubborn
stumps was loosened with dynamite. Slowly, over time, most of these
stumps were removed. Today only a handful of companies make a living
from stump wooding.
Key Words and Concepts (click
on for glossary definition): cut out and get out,