Nineteenth Century Industries: Lumber

Bangor waterfront

After the American Revolution, Massachusetts and Maine no longer sent white pinesWhite pine

A fast-growing pine tree with white wood and smooth gray bark. Often used for ships' masts in the past.
to Britain for naval ship mastsMast

A straight piece of timber or a hollow cylinder of wood or metal set up vertically or nearly so and supporting yards, booms, derricks, or gaffs. In fore-and-aft rigged vessels each mast is commonly made of two parts, called the lower mast and the topmast.
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. Instead, they used them for local shipbuilding, and milled lumber for a growing building market. By the mid-nineteenth century, Bangor was the “Lumber Capital of the World,” and often shipped more than 200,000,000 board feetBoard foot

A unit of measure used in the American timber trade. One board foot refers to a piece of unmilled wood 1 foot x 1 foot x 1 inch, or 144 cubic inches. Twelve board feet equal one cubic foot.
annually. Between 1832 and 1888, Bangor shipped out 8.7 billion board feet of lumber.

Tern schooner with lumber

Trees were cut in the late fall and winter, when it was easier to move them on snow to the nearest river. In spring, using rivers swelled by snowmelt and rain, loggers floated logs downstream to places like Bangor and Ellsworth. There sawmills cut logs into long lumberLong lumber

Large boards used for building.
called dealsDeal

A plank or board of softwood (pine or fir) from 2 to 4 inches thick, over 7 inches in width, and of various lengths over 6 feet. The standard size is 2 1/2 inches thick, 11 inches wide, and 12 feet long.
for beams, planks, and boards, or into small lumberSmall lumber

Short items made by sawmills, including shingles and barrel staves.
for shinglesShingles shingle

Thin pieces of wood laid in overlapping rows and used to cover the outside walls or the roof of a building.
, clapboardsClapboard

Narrow board usually thicker at one edge than the other, used for siding on a house.
, lathsLath

A narrow strip of wood used for latticework, such as on a lobster trap, or to support another surface, such as a plaster wall.
, and fence posts.

Winter lumbering complemented shipping. Ice often blocked the Penobscot River from December through March.

Tug <em>Bismark</em> towing lumber schooners

Once navigation opened, the spring rivers brought winter cut lumber down river, where a fleet of vessels carried it to the expanding cities of the U.S. eastern seaboard, the Caribbean, and South America.

Steam tugs, introduced on the river sometime before 1850, could, for a fee, make the passage up and down the river much faster. Many sailing captains, however, chose to save towing charges. The larger schoonersSchooner

A sailing vessel of two or more masts, all fore-and-aft rigged. The Thomas W. Lawson, built in 1902, had seven masts. In comparison to a square-rigged vessel of comparable tonnage, a schooner is better for coastwise sailing.
of the 1870s helped more lumber reach a bigger market.

In 1860, there were 3,376 vessel arrivals in Bangor.