Volume 18, No.1, Spring 2000

Old Growth Rising

Breaching the Edwards Dam on Maine’s Kennebec River last July to help fish had an unexpected benefit for furniture-makers, wood craftsmen, architects, musical instrument-makers, and even pen-makers. Old growth timbers have been salvaged from the dam’s foundation for use in a host of wood products.

Most of the trees were taken from the Maine woods in the 1830s when the dam was built and have spent more than 150 years submerged in the waters of the Kennebec. White pine, spruce, and hemlock, as well as oak, maple, and birch, have surfaced in nearly perfect shape. And many would say the wood is even more beautiful today than when it was first cut. The water has pulled the sap from the logs and deposited minerals in the growth rings, creating a stunning pattern of soft earth tones.

PerkinsWood, which is conducting the salvage operation, estimates that it will recover 660,000 board feet of old growth timber without cutting a single tree. The logs must be pressure washed and kiln-dried in a specially built oven before they are ready for sale.

The novelty of the wood’s origin will increase the value of the products and some of that increased value will find its way back to the river. The penmaker intends to donate $2 from each of his pens to Maine Rivers, a conservation group that protects and restores rivers.

Environmental News Network

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