Morning mist, like a clear sheath, rose from the green-carpeted Cheat Mountain in West Virginia’s Monongahela Nationwide Forest on that Memorial Day weekend, however the sizzling solar shortly intercepted it throughout its light ascent, leaving a flawlessly blue sky.
Like a pocket of historical past, someway frozen in time, the city of Cass, accessed by way of curving, mountain-hugging roads and a brief, Greenbrier River-traversing bridge, sported its railroad depot, historic buildings, and twin tracks, all cradled by a valley in Again Allegheny Mountain. The tracks themselves, stretching towards and disappearing right into a dense forest, had been the very cause for the city and its railroad and in addition the rationale why neither disappeared into historical past Standard Single Way Clamp.
Densely lined with virgin forests through the late-19th century, West Virginia ubiquitously sprouted oak, hickory, pine, walnut, and chestnut at its decrease elevations and hemlock, spruce, maple, and birch at its greater ones, offering wealthy lumber assets, with its eight- to nine-foot diameter timber, for the homes, shops, church buildings, and colleges demanded by the state’s rising inhabitants.
Logging, as soon as dependent upon rivers to energy sawmills, advanced into a big trade with the concurrent growth of the steam engine and the round noticed, a mix which permitted location wherever the operation required it, unbiased of exterior water energy.
Timber had been historically felled, minimize into manageably sized logs, propelled down slopes by the use of picket skids to streams, and transported to mills on log rafts.
Due to the inherent imprecision and hazard of the handbook skidding technique, the Lidgerwood Firm of New York designed the primary steam-powered skidder, which constituted one other logging trade development. First utilized in West Virginia in 1904, the system, that includes a mile of 1 7/Eight-inch thick cable which prolonged as much as 2,600 toes, was both mounted immediately on the bottom or atop a rail-provisioned flat automobile, gripping the log and transferring it from forest to stream in a safe, managed method. It considerably elevated the potential of the horse-drawn technique it usually changed.
Water-born logging rafts, as equally imprecise due to rock, boulder, department, and rapids obstructions through the summer time and ice within the winter, had been ultimately changed with steam-operated loaders and logging railroads.
Giant band saws, substituting for the sooner, round system, transformed timber into lumber extra quickly, exactly, and effectively, eliminating unnecessary waste, and had a median every day functionality of 125,000 board-feet.
By the late-19th century, West Virginia had grow to be one of many nation’s largest lumber producers, a couple of hundred railroads transporting uncooked timber to mills for slicing and processing earlier than being shipped on the market as a completed product. Peaking in 1909, the trade minimize some 1,473 million board toes of lumber per yr.