THEIR DESTRUCTION AND PRESERVATION.BY REV. FREDERICK STARR, JR., ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI.
THERE are few subjects so closely connected with the wants. of society, the general health of the people, the salubrity of our climate, the production of our soils, and the increase of our national wealth, as our forests; and yet no considerable interest of our country has received so little attention at the hands of the people, and enjoyed so little of fostering protection from the government.
It is my intention in this article, by a simple array of important facts and a few passing suggestions, to call the attention especially of our landholders, farmers, and mechanics to an impending national danger, beyond the power of figures to estimate, and beyond the province of words to express. If I can influence these classes but a little; if but a few facts shall be added to the present knowledge possessed by each; and if, therefore, but a slight effort be put forth by, every one of them, the aggregate of interest, intelligence, and action thus obtained will be immense. There were in the United States in 1860, 2,044,077 farms under cultivation. Could each farmer, having timber on his own land, be led by the facts presented to so husband his trees, or improve their quality, or replace judiciously and speedily those removed, as to equal one-half acre of common forest each year, and if those whose lands are destitute of timber could be led to plant the equivalent of one-half acre per annum, we should either save or produce, annually, 1,022,038 acres, which would be something towards off-setting the destruction, and warding off the coming desolation.
It is feared it will be long, perhaps a full century, before the results at which we ought to aim as a nation, will be realized by our whole country, to wit: that we shall raise an adequate supply of wood and timber for all our wants. The evils which are anticipated will probably increase upon us for thirty years to come, with tenfold the rapidity with which restoring or ameliorating measures shall be adopted. Every hour, therefore, is precious. We have, as a nation, far too long disregarded this interest. Growth is slow and restoration tedious, while destruction is rapid and injury instantaneous. Delay, therefore, is both cruel and disastrous to ourselves. Attention is, therefore, respectfully invited to the following statements:
1. A great increase in the cost of fuel—In all our cities and large towns the
consumption of fuel exceeds the production of the neighboring country. It is
brought from a distance, and its transportation makes its value enormous and
The railroads consume great quantities of wood, and exhaust the supply along their lines. Steam-engines, for manufacturing purposes, are not erected in hundreds of places, simply because of the high price of fuel. The expenses of every class in the community are thus increased, but it especially oppresses the industrious poor. It diminishes their comforts, gives them imperfect cooking, injuriously exposes their health, holds them back from a competence, and, in mere defence of life, consumes a large fraction of their earnings which else could have been used for education, purchasing personal effects, or securing for their families a home.
When the proprietors of mines will sell coal only to certain favored dealers in cities and towns, and when great railroad companies refuse to carry coal for any persons except these same dealers, their monopoly reigns supreme, and then only the presence of wood in considerable quantities can save the people from extortion, or from absolute suffering.
In any region, hamlet, or city where fuel is dear, the scarcity proves itself a detriment to happiness and an injury to business.
2. A great increase in the price of lumber and timber —This hinders the erection of dwellings. A poor man now labors years longer to obtain the means to build a house than he did ten years ago to erect one equally convenient, valuable, and spacious. Years of his life and toil are thrown away simply to meet the enhanced price of lumber. The growth of our cities is retarded by it; small and often uncomfortable tenements are built where larger, more substantial and costly ones would have been erected. Landlords not only charge high rents, but make the expensiveness of building an excuse for unjustifiable exactions, Tens of thousands are thus discouraged from becoming freeholders. The costliness of lumber also makes furniture very expensive, so that our countrymen must purchase poorer and less elegant articles than the same money would otherwise provide, or consume means they need for other permanent uses.
3. High rates of fares and freight charges on our lines of travel and transportation result from the increased cost of building and equipping steamboats and railroads.—Ships now cost, as regards their main material, fully double the expense a few years since. The increased price of lumber used in the superstructure of a railroad for its depots and for freight and passenger cars has added much to the capital upon which they must make dividends, or the bonds upon which they pay interest. The enhanced value of fuel also increases the expenses of running the road, while, worse than any of these, the force and time required to move coal for the consumption of the people along the line of the road, and to convey fuel for the use of the road itself, diminishes the capacity of the road for other business, consumes machinery and labor, and interferes with more legitimate commerce. In the winter of 1864 and 1865, on the line of some
of the New York railroads, the people in the villages and cities were without fire in their houses awaiting the transportation of coal, while the perishable products of farms by hundreds of car loads were lying in the depots for weeks and months awaiting transportation, and shut out from market at the most eventful times. On all the great carrying lines of our country, whether by steam-car or steamboat, this question of fuel has become one most important and vexatious
as regards quantity, ease of obtainment, and price.
Among the things which are most fundamental to a nation’s material growth and prosperity, we name these four—cheap bread, cheap houses, cheap fuel and cheap transportation for passengers and freights. A nation which produces the raw material for every species of manufactures and commerce, and that at low cost—whose people provide their own houses, and raise all they consume—which can move its people, its products and manufactures, quickly and cheaply, is in a condition to establish the most complete division of labor, and to give to every man the results of his abilities, energy, and skill. Such a nation must prosper. Its people will save and accumulate immense,sums from their respective earnings; and this question of wood enters largely and constantly into each one of these four great departments of industry and living.
The older portions of our country are, even now, drawing their supplies of lumber from the newer States. For black walnut, and some other woods used in cabinet manufactures and in carriage-building, the eastern States are already sending to Michigan and Wisconsin, while tens of millions of dollars’ worth of pine are brought about two thousand miles from our upper lakes and the headwaters of the Mississippi to our Atlantic and Gulf seaboard. Foreign nations, also, are consumers of our forests. Oak and pine are exported by us to other countries for purposes of house and ship carpentry. A single gun factory in Europe, during the first two years of the rebellion, consumed 28,000 walnut trees to supply gun-stocks for the American market. This fact will give some indistinct idea of the consumption of lumber in great factories of cabinet ware, where the amount of wood required for the smallest articles exceeds that required for the stocking of a musket.
In the State of New York alone, within the ten years from 1850 to 1860, there were brought under cultivation 1,967,433 acres of land hitherto unimproved. As there are scarcely any lands in the State of New York naturally untimbered; it is probable that during those two years more than 1,500,000 acres of what had been (or was then) timbered land, was cleared for purposes of lumber and agriculture. Thus, 500 acres of land were changed from wood-bearing and timber-growing, each day, for 300 days each year, through that period of ten years, into farming lands.
During the same ten years more than 50,000,000 of acres in our whole country were brought under cultivation. But these improvements were especially made in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Texas. These States, to a greater or less extent, are dotted with prairies, or suffer from a scarcity of timber; many prairie farms were, therefore, taken up. But bear in-mind, that every man seeking a prairie farm desires, in his selection, to secure small streams and as much timber as possible upon his farm, or near to it; so that, while the reckless waste which attends new clearings in forest districts has not existed in the case of these prairie farms, their owners have wonderfully diminished the very scanty supply, even while they have dealt with it with an economy almost penurious, We will allow, then, for unwooded country brought into cultivation two-fifths of the whole, (which is probably more than twice as much as was the fact;) this will leave three-fifths of the 50,000,000 of acres brought into cultivation, or thirty millions of acres, which were lands either previously or during those years heavily timbered. Assuming, as before, 300 working days in each year, 3,000,000 of acres were thus, each year, lost to tree- growing, or 10,000 acres each day.
In all regions remote from a market, and where logs and lumber cannot; be readily exported, no matter how grand the forests, how excellent the timber, the trees are killed by girdling, and left to stand until overthrown by their own weight or by storms, and are then consumed by fire, yielding in return for their displacement only ashes to act chemically upon the soil, the fire often injuring the earth itself far more than the value of the ashes returned.
The land thus stripped of forests is permanently alienated from timber- growing. In many places in the eastern States, where the mountains are too precipitous and rocky to allow of cultivation, a second growth of timber is permitted and even cherished for firewood and the making of charcoal; but arable lands, once cleared, are scarcely ever permitted to be overrun a second time with forests. In fact, destructive man so utterly robs and impoverishes his lands of timber that he destroys the beauty of the landscape, and beyond the fence of his “wood-lot” leaves no shade for man or beast.
Increasing population swells these evils. Between 1850 and 1860 our population increased 8,080,785. It is now advancing at the probable rate of over one million souls per annum. The consumption and exportation of lumber in the United States, in 1860, was $37,390,310 more than in 1850. The ratio in this increase in population was but 35.59 per cent., while the increase in lumber was 63.09 per cent. This shows that the demand for wood for agricultural, mechanical and domestic purposes (notwithstanding all the use of iron in manufacturing useful implements, and the use of iren, stone and brick for bridge and house building) increases each year with the advance of the nation in age and wealth.
If for twenty years to come the demand for lumber shall advance in the same ratio to the population as in the past twenty, more than two hundred millions of dollars’ worth of American sawed lumber will be needed each year, and the game ratio in increase of population, which has called the fifty millions of acres into use in ten years, will then be calling it in the rate of more 100,000,000 of acres each ten years. Our native-born and foreign population will have farms, lot¢ and houses, fences,. furniture, vehicles and agricultural implements; but every year they will impoverish the United States more and more of her lumber, and all these things will demand a higher price.
The great State of New York still holds pre-eminence as furnishing more lumber than any other State; but as long ago as 1850 it reached the maximum of its ability to furnish lumber. With the enhanced price of 1860, as compared with 1850, that State produced about one million of dollars less of lumber in 1860 than in 1850; while the State during those ten years increased her population 783,341, she diminished her supply of lumber almost one million of dollars each year. Five other States in this Union also diminished their supplies of lumber during those ten years. Some of the newer States are developing their Lumber interests; but our whole country (aided by foreign nations) is using up the products of their forests very rapidly.
Speaking of New York, the completion of the new railroad from Saratoga springs northwestward, called the Adirondac railroad, and traversing the vast wooded region known as the “John Brown Tract,” will, a few years hence, bring a great amount of lumber into market, which has hitherto been inaccessible. But it is doubtful whether even this will equal the amount of destruction which will, in the mean time, take place in other sections of the State. The black walnut has almost wholly disappeared from the State. The wild cherry and cucumber tree are great strangers, the hard maple and hickory in some sections are nearly gone, while entire counties, formerly heavy with hemlock and pine, can with difficulty supply now and then a farmer with a knotty sill for a small barn; and the opening of the mountainous Adirondac region, it is feared by many, will so let down the cold and storms of the northeast upon central and western New York, that, in the effect of the bleakness upon human health and the destruction of grain crops by intense cold, every foot of lumber secured therefrom for commerce and industry will cost double its value in the injury to other interests.
The average cost of sleepers for one mile of railroad is one-eighth the cos of the iron, with these points of difference: the iron, if of the best quality, will last from twenty to twenty-five years, while the sleepers will last but from five to seven years, unless chemically prepared at a great increase of cost. Decayed sleepers are worthless, and are thrown away or given to the hands on the road for firewood. But, on the other hand, bruised, broken or split rails can be rewrought, and come a second time from the rolling-mill with little waste, and even of better quality than when first made. The mere cost of rough timber for sleepers will probably, in time, prove to many of our railroads an expense greater than the first cost of the rails, even including the keeping of the iron rails in repair.
Between 1850 and 1860 there was built in the United States 22,204 miles of new railroads. New timber was required for all these. But for nearly 8,589 miles of previously existing roads there was needed, during this period, for the replacement of old timbers, more than the amount necessary for their first construction. So that there was used in that time 65,897,020 pieces of timber, costing, at the low average of thirty-five cents a piece, $23,063,957. But, besides all this, there were building and not yet brought into use, on January 1, 1862, about 17,827 miles of new road, for all of which new sleepers were needed. When it is remembered that these sleepers are generally sound hemlock, chestnut, and especially oak; that trees are selected to make them of a size just sufficient to furnish one or two sleepers only, (the tree being simply hewn on two sides, and having the heart entire,) the destruction of choice timber just approaching a size suitable for sawing is immense.
The lumber used in fencing their lines of railroads, (more than 60,000 miles,) and in erecting bridges, depots, station-houses and cars, is also a great item, to which we have but limited means of approximating; and leaving it we will notice—
It is estimated that one and three-quarters cords of wood are equivalent to one ton of coal, and on an ordinary train will drive the engine twenty-five miles. Let us call the New York Central railroad three hundred miles long, (the length of its direct trunk,) and let us assume that an equivalent of only ten trains, passengers and freight, pass over it every twenty-four hours. This will give us a total of twenty trains each day. Let us now account for only three hundred days in each year, which will allow for floods, accidents, snows and Sabbaths, and we have the distance travelled by, the trains 1,800,000 miles. For each twenty-five miles there is consumed, at the ordinary estimation, one and three- quarters cords of wood, making 126,000 cords per annum, which is supposed to be by one-third less than the amount actually burned by them. In the fall and early winter of 1864 and 1865 the runs on this great road became very irregular, as the supply of fuel fell short, owing to the high prices demanded by the farmers. The engines of this road were made for burning wood; unable to obtain it, or compelled to burn it green, the company were forced to burn coal in their engines, and for many weeks the trains were irregular, freight accumulated, and many splendid engines were badly injured. Energetic agents were sent back into the country, and by offering high prices, and making great exertions to supply the road, in mid-winter the trains began to resume their regularity. When the devastations of the forests have continued another generation, the New York Central railroad, now just about twenty-five years old, will be obliged to buy its fuel and have it brought to it, or else own its own mines, and build a branch road to them, and distribute coal for its own use through its entire length. Already the “Onondaga Salt Company,” with the Erie -canal and all its branches to bring its fuel, cannot depend upon the wood of the State, but has purchased its own mines in Pennsylvania, and carries all the fuel for its immense works more than one hundred and fifty miles.
If we should average all the roads of the United States, and assume that only ten trains each day pass over each road, (including passenger, freight, extra- repair, wood and paymaster’s trains,) we should have in the whole United States 307,930 miles travelled daily, demanding a daily consumption of 21,555 cords, or, in 300 days, 6,465,500 cords.
Many great steamships, steamboats, founderies, rolling-mills, and factories of every description, also many families, use coal entirely for their fuel, and the coal interest is becoming one of the most important in our land.
The census of 1860 gives full statistics of coal, while in the compendium for 1860 wood is mentioned only in a table of sawed lumber. In the compendium of 1850 the only mention of wood. is as follows: “Cord-wood on the bases of 1840, $20,000,000.” It is thought, with the increase of navigation, manufactures and population between 1850 and 1860, that the cord-wood actually sold by producers to actual consumers and railroads could not have amounted in 1860 to less than $50,000,000, while the total of all the coal mined in the United States in 1860 was but $19,365,765.
We are to remember that, in the occupations of men, the farmers furnish their own fuel. The farmers number in this country 2,423,895; while the next most numerous class is but one-tenth as many, to wit, carpenters, men who live by working upon forests—these number 242,958. The blacksmiths number 112,357, clerks 194,485, merchants 123,378, miners 147,750, shoemakers 164,608, tailors 101,866, teachers 110,469. When we come to count what are denominated laborers, there are but 969,301 “common laborers,” while, besides the 2,423,895 farmers proper, there are 795,679, farm laborers. Remembering that farmers produce their own fuel, and often use it with great freedom, it is probable that the total consumption of wood for fuel in the United States will cost at the lowest estimate upwards of seventy-five millions of dollars per annum.
There are sixty-six occupations enumerated in the census which depend, in whole or in part, upon lumber or wood as their raw material for manufacture and commerce, employing a total of artisans of 476,623 souls, representing in their families, probably, more than 2,000,000 persons. We will enumerate a few of them: Carpenters, 242,959; coffin-makers, 7,000; cabinet-makers, 29,223; chair-makers, 6,341; sawyers, 15,000; millwrights, 9,063; ship- carpenters, 13,379; coopers, 43,624; wheelwrights, 32,693; piano-makers, 2,378; coach-makers, 19,180; and thus proceeding until sixty-six classes are specifically named. But there are others whose callings are very intimately connected with the use of wood and depending upon it, not at first sight occurring to the mind as their occupations are named. There are charcoal burners, 203; lime burners, 1,456; brick-makers, 13,736. How intimately are these trades connected with the entire destruction, the use, and the manufacture of wood. All the occupations to which we have alluded are such that as our population increases, and the national wealth becomes greater, more persons will be demanded to labor in each, and the necessity for wood will become hourly more pressing. But we must not tarry.
The destruction of forests and timber during the war of the rebellion has been immense. Both armies, the Union and the rebel, have destroyed it. Much has been ruined by accidents; it has been removed for military purposes, both by the axe and fire; it has been taken to supply fuel for the armies, to erect fortifications, to hinder the movements of the enemy, and to open the country for military movements. Timber, whose value had been enhanced by labor bestowed upon it, was also destroyed—as the sleepers from torn-up railroads, large and costly bridges, and dwellings and outhouses consumed by fire. Then the relaying of railroads, and rebuilding of bridges and dwellings, wherever this has been done, demands anew supply. We are told that native Virginians, in some sections of that State, are removing, because the war has swept away the timber; and, for the same reason, emigrants decline to go into some of the finest parts of the State as regards the soil.
The general government, in its grand and sudden expansion of our navy, has almost stripped some of the best sections of the whole country of its very best timber—the white oak—which has gone to the navy yards and contractors’ docks in untold quantities.
Men, in their haste to: get their land under cultivation, girdle and burn vast tracts of the most magnificent forest, while they could, with the greatest advantage to the crops, and the general health and the beauty of the country, leave every field with a fine belt of timber, from two to eight rods in width, surrounding it on every side. The disadvantages which men imagine to result from the shading of their fields are, by most beautiful compensations of nature, both in summer and winter, more than twofold made up to them in blessings and profit. So thoughtless and reckless are men in opening up their farms, they do not even have forethought to select the knoll and save the forest where nature indicated should be set the future house. That very spot is bared of its trees, and at length he sets his house upon it, large, imposing and costly, and twenty years later he finds himself beginning to enjoy a meagre artificial shade, prepared with long toil and heavy expense.
When wood commands a high price, and farmers can sell it, and, by removing it, can put in a larger breadth of grain, also commanding a high price, their covetousness leads them to cut and sell as long as one stick remains on the farm more than just enough to keep up the fences poorly. This course also degrades the quality of our forests. First, the trees suitable for sawing fall; then those which can be hewn; then those choicest for firewood are culled out, and the forest becomes crooked, gnarled, and composed of comparatively worthless trees, the grander and more valuable species having been utterly extirpated.
Many, with great labor, have cleared out the underbrush, and have seeded down their woods, to make noble parks, or to procure range and pasturage for their cattle. They do look beautiful, smooth, and pleasant to the proprietor himself and every passing stranger. But is it well? Others, in time of drought, or to save a little pasturage or fodder, turn their cattle into their woods. Thousands of young trees are eaten, or torn up by the roots, while other thousands are broken down and trampled to death; and in a few years the new forest is nearly destroyed. In some of the European countries this practice is forbidden by stringent laws, and punished, by severe penalties.
The fruits of the best nut-bearing trees, as the population increases, are more in demand by the squirrels and the children, for their own uses, or by those who supply the demands of commerce. So that some noble trees that would do all in their power to propagate themselves, annually shower upon the earth bushels of nuts; and yet, at the end of a generation, cannot show one plant in vigorous growth as the result of all their generosity and labor. The coopers’ trade, meanwhile, beyond any other, penetrates the most thrifty forests, and gathers the choicest saplings by millions. It is a common sight at St. Louis to see the freight trains on the Pacific railroad enter the city with from one to four platform cars loaded with hoop-poles, to the top of stakes six feet above the platform of the car. This is a new road, but a few months completed, and the woods furnish a fresh field for this devastation, to last, however, but a very few years ere all will be exhausted. But the farmers, as if determined to make the destruction of the woods complete, in many instances turn their swine into their woods, not only to root up and trample what plants were left by the cattle, but also to devour the last stray kernel of mast that remains.
Can anything be done to check this destruction? and how? Call the attention of all owning forests-to the methods of economizing their timber. Encourage them to permit none of the more valuable kinds of timber to be removed until it has reached a fair maturity, remembering that each year’s growth is greater than any preceding year’s accretion. A sapling ten feet in height and two inches diameter may add in one year a ring of wood one-third of an inch in thickness, and may increase its slender top by four feet of additional height; the amount of wood actually grown for that year will be equivalent to a strip of board one inch thick and two inches wide at the butt, and one inch square at the top, and fifteen feet long. But thirty-five years later, when it shall have acquired a diameter of two feet, when it shall stand eighty feet in height, let us see the speed with which it makes lumber. Assume the diameter of the coat of wood deposited to be one-quarter of an inch, and we have for a single year’s growth, by averaging the height and diameters, the equivalent of a solid plank ten inches wide, two inches thick, and forty feet in length. Timber which stands well located in the forest, with suitable room, and which is making vigorous growth, should, by all means, be spared as long as possible. The timber which is evidently worthless for purposes of usefulness and manufacture should be re- moved and used for fuel.
A vast mistake exists in the minds of men.as to the relative values of different woods, as to their ability to produce heat. Certain kinds of wood are preferred by the purchaser because, when he has to pay for preparing and handling wood to burn, he wishes it as solid and as lasting as he can obtain it. But the lower rates at which he may obtain other wood than hickory and hard maple may, on examination, prove to him that it is economy even to buy, prepare and use a greater quantity of other kinds. I therefore introduce a few acts from the carefully and exactly compiled tables made by Marcus Bull in his experiments upon American woods. - His ninth table shows “the value of specified quantities of each wood, as compared with shell-bark hickory as the standard, and marked 100.” Out of forty-six different woods of trees and bushes experimented on, only five stood under fifty, or were of less than half the value of shell-bark hickory; these were Lombardy poplar, white pine, pitch pine, Jersey pine, and white birch, which stood respectively as follows: 40, 42, 43, 48, 48. Hard maple, generally considered as next in quality to hickory as fuel, was found to have a value of only sixty. There were eighteen of the varieties of wood experimented on which were more valuable, foot by foot, than hard maple, ranging from 60 to 80, while white oak and red-heart hickory marked 81, chestnut and white oak 86, and pig-nut hickory 95. Many of the small growing trees, oftentimes cut and burned in the clearings, were found among the best heat-producing woods.
In removing trees let a view be had to the protection of the remaining forest, taking those decaying and liable to fall, and those that have become insecure and are liable to be uprooted by violent storms. And care should be exercised in felling trees, not only to facilitate the removal of the logs and wood, but also to save the breakage of the remaining trees. And by ail means entirely exclude domestic animals from the woods. Encourage the farmers of our land also to study the cherishing and reproduction of their timber. Let the trees of the least value be cut out for wood, and thin out the poorest of the trees where they stand too thickly. Take away large branching and yet indifferent trees where the woods are sparse, and set young trees and plant nuts of valuable varieties in the area thus opened, and let the sunshine and the air start them together, that they may grow thriftily and advantageously. As a nation, great ignorance and stupor exist among our farmers respecting this subject. If the 2,240,000 farmers would each give but one hour of real thought to this subject, and then practice upon their own thoughts, the result would profit this nation tens of millions of dollars.
Our farmers should consider the ultimate pecuniary benefit of such a course for themselves, and their children after them, both in the better incomes from their farms and their greater value to their families if in time they should be sold. We are cutting down too much of the timber and removing the extended and grand instrument which God uses in nature for greatly controlling the extremes of temperature and moderating the violence of rial disturbances and inequalities of all kinds. Cutting off timber to raise grain will, when carried far enough, change those rich grain fields to moderate grass lands. The lesson of the goose that laid the golden egg should check our thoughtlessness and lead us to save our timber, and even produce more, and cultivate with greater care and thoroughness the present fields.
Let extensive, protracted and scientific experiments in the propagation and cultivation of forest trees be established. In European countries vast sums have been expended, and years—yes, lives of eminent men have been spent in observation and experiment upon this subject. Laws have been passed protecting the forests from injury by cattle and from depredations by wood thieves, limiting the amount of wood which may be cut, and requiring men to plant trees. But this knowledge is of comparatively little advantage to us. The books are mostly written in foreign languages; they are, to a great extent, scientific works, and would not be suited for general use and instruction, even were they translated in the most scholarly manner. The climate, soil and trees of Great Britain are dissimilar to ours, to so great an extent that the works written there would be inapplicable to our vast area, with its great extremes of latitude and its great changes of temperature. Our country, in the general excellence and variety of its timber, exceeds Europe and demands that we should study and learn for ourselves what our country can do for its native trees, and what our trees can do for our country. The pursuit of thorough knowledge involves the use of so much time, and the expenditure of so much money, that when a nation is as ambitious of material progress, and as eager for gain as ours, study on this subject, as an individual pursuit, will be wholly neglected. This subject should receive the immediate attention of our government, and enjoy its fostering care. No private efforts, however expensive or extensive, would so much impress the great mass of the people with the immediate and pressing importance of action as to have Congress make some movement worthy of a subject so grand, and an interest so vast. There are certain objections against the government attempting such experiments itself, and directly under its own authority and inspection. It would need to be added to some department already existing, and overloaded now with the oversight of other great and varied interests. The experiments ought to be carried on in sections remote from the seat of the general government, and would need the appointment of agents and overseers, who would serve simply as appointees, and not because they were drawn to the work by their natural tastes and their high estimates of its importance. The experiments, to be of any value, must be continued through several presidential terms; and in the continual changes occurring in the various departments of government, no one person would be permitted to control these experiments, to carry out to completeness thoroughly digested theories and test them in actual practice, and to avail himself of his own experiences, knowing which to truly condemn and which to approve. The liability would be a defeat, through incompetence or lack of interest in the men appointed to the work, from the short periods with which they would be connected with it, and the fact. that they had no personal interest at stake in it except their salaries.
On the other hand, no company of men can, in the present state of ignorance, afford to buy lands, and then propagate trees at an expense of twenty to thirty times the value of the land per acre, and wait twenty years for the return of the money in fire-wood and lumber. Men must live—they need present money; they wish immediate income from their labor and investments. If in any manner the government could aid any competent corporation of able and scientific men, either by grants of money or grants of public lands, to assume a faithful and thorough fulfilment of certain definite and important experiments, made extensive enough and continued long enough to settle certain great facts—to determine certain sure methods of culture, and to place in the United States, within fifteen years, the art of sylviculture (or tree-growing) on the same basis as wheat-growing—to bring it to a forward and certain position, which it will not otherwise attain in forty years—then it ought to be done. The great objection to this plan is, that the government is dependent, to a certain extent, on the faithfulness, capacity or honesty of those to whom it intrusts this great work. If, then, the government, in the furnishing of means to such parties, could keep such a control only as should secure the faithful performance of the agreements made, and also make it for the ultimate personal benefit of those conducting the experiments to carry them to completion in the most perfect mode, the object would be probably obtained in the best, most satisfactory, and most economical manner.
Whatever course may be adopted in this matter, it is hourly assuming an importance with thinking men that will not permit it to rest. Action, for which in twenty years sixty millions of citizens will return devout thanks, is demanded, and it should be taken without an hour of unnecessary delay.
Every word that has been written, printed, or spoken in our country on this subject has been a blessing, and the author deserves public thanks. Every man who has experimented, to however small an extent, whether led thereto by his own necessities for trees, or by love for the employment, has been a public benefactor. Like the “cloud no bigger than a man’s hand, just rising from the sea,” an awakening interest begins to come in sight on this subject, which, as a question of political economy, will place the interests of cotton, wool, coal, iron, meat, and even grain, beneath its feet. Some of these, according to the demand, can be produced in a few days, others in a few months, wool itself in a few years, but timber in not less than one generation, and such as we are daily destroying in not less than five to fifteen generations. The nation has slept because the gnawing of want has not awakened her. She has had plenty and to spare; but within thirty years she will be conscious that not only individual want is present, but that it comes to each from permanent national famine of wood.
We should hail every movement in this direction of increasing interest. The State Agricultural Society of New York has offered last year, for the first,time, a premium for the best acre of forest orchard. I have not seen the proposal, but think the amount is $200; and the only thing specified as required is that a given number of trees should be set out. All honor to that society in its noble beginning! Mr. Douglass, of Wisconsin, will long deserve the thanks of this nation for his patient and successful experiments in domesticating and successfully propagating in this country the European larch. Close by the region of native pine, so rapidly melting away, he is seeking to introduce and encourage the cultivation of the larch in all that region of country, May. success attend him, and an abundant reward! In connexion with some of our colleges, and contemplated in the future by some of the agricultural colleges, and in some few instances owned by men of great wealth, are found arboreta, or gardens, or grounds in which are collected all varieties of trees which can be made to endure the climate; and sometimes the collections are extended so as to include many shrubs and trees which can be grown only under glass and with constant protection. For the advancement of science, for the use of the naturalist, the philosopher and the student, such collections are of great value, bringing the practical examination of these productions of nature within the reach of many whose time, circumstances, or means would not permit them, to visit foreign countries. One of the largest and finest collections of this kind in the United States constitutes one department of the Missouri Botanical Garden, which is the property of a wealthy citizen of St, Louis, and is situated some two miles southwest of Lafayette Park in thai city. These grounds are probably unsurpassed by any in the United States, either public or private, in their extent, their beauty, the completeness of the collection of plants, shrubs and trees, or the skilful cultivation and the lavish expense bestowed upon them. Although private grounds, they are thrown open to the public by their proprietor, Mr, Henry Shaw. Tens of thousands have enjoyed their beauty, many students have spent happy and useful hours there, and the effect upon the landscape gardening and the beautifying of yards and private grounds.from this example has been immense. But the arboretum, which contains one tree of each known variety, does not meet the particular want of which we are speaking, though, as we have stated, their presence helps to arouse and instruct the nation. It is such governmental action as has been recommended, with such action as I am told has just been taken by the legislature of Kansas, which is to bring us relief, if it ever comes. The State of Kansas, to encourage the planting of trees, not only remits the taxes upon all planted forest, but pays annually, through a period of some twenty years, a bonus of one dollar an acre to the planter. To persons who think there are in our country trees enough this may seem a strange expenditure of money; but it will do more than any other expenditure to replenish the State treasury in all future time. The facts I have mentioned show that light is beginning to struggle through the darkness. Let the people, then, have immediate true, and reliable information, such as only such courses of experiments as have been spoken of above can give. They are ready now to receive it. Let them also have an opportunity to see what has been, and is, from year to year, being done at such propagating grounds and plantings. If this is done, there is no reason why arboriculture may not become throughout all our land as distinct a department of our agriculture, as well understood, and as certainly managed, as breeding, herding, wool-growing, dairying, or raising grain.
An effort is now being made with the government to obtain and diffuse intelligence on this subject. In the spring of 1865 a company, of which the writer is a member, was incorporated by the legislature of New York, under the name and title of the “American Forest Tree Propagation and Land Company.” The said company, having duly and legally organized, have applied to Congress, asking a grant of public lands, the far greatest, part of whose, proceeds are to be expended in making the experiments; the remainder of the land, with the plantings thereon, to be the reward of the company. It may properly be questioned, why should they ask the government for such assistance? Why not carry forward the enterprise by individual energy and at private expense?
Let us then inquire, why government should aid such efforts? The work is national. Every part of the land suffers together. In the pineries themselves a man cannot now build for double what it costa few years ago, because the demand for lumber, its increasing scarcity, and the price of labor control the price. It will take the man no longer to chop the logs, nor the mill longer to saw them; but all things have gone up in price; and (leaving out the fluctuations in currency and prices caused by war) there is no one thing in our land which has more certainly caused the present high rates-of labor than the high price of fuel for all domestic and manufacturing purposes, the high rents for the industrial classes, and the high price of the raw material upon which nearly one-half million of our industrious, intelligent mechanics labor for their bread. Every citizen in this country is interested in this question, both directly and indirectly. Every one must have his house to dwell in, either his own or some other man’s; every one needs his victuals cooked and his tea and coffee warmed; every one, for health of body, needs a genial fire in the inclement days of inhospitable seasons of the year.
Bernard Pallissy, the famous “Potter of the Tuilleries,” who died in the Bastile for his religion in 1589, was one of the most profound men ever produced in Europe. He then plead for the wood in France as follows, (see G. P. Marsh, “ Man and Nature,” page 296:) “Having expressed his indignation at the folly of men in destroying the woods, his interlocutor defends the policy of felling them by citing the example of divers bishops, cardinals, priors, abbots, monkeries and chapters, which, by cutting their woods, have made three profits— the sale of the timber, the rent of the ground, and the good portion they received of the grain grown by the peasants upon it.” To this argument Pallissy replies: “I cannot enough detest this thing, and I call it not an error, but a curse and a calamity to all France; for when forests shall be cut, all arts shall cease, and they who practice them shall be driven out to eat grass with Nebuchadnezzar and the beasts of the field. I have divers times thought to set down in writing the arts which shall perish when there shall be no more wood; but when I had written down a great number, I did perceive that there could be no end of my writing, and having diligently considered, I found there was not any which could be followed without wood.” * * * * * “And truly I could well allege to thee a thousand reasons, but ’tis so cheap a philosophy that the very chamber wenches, if they do but think, may see that without wood it is not possible to exercise any manner of human art or cunning.”
But there are many persons who, living in the near vicinity of coal, undervaluing the infinite uses to which wood is serviceable especially, smile at the idea that the coal can ever be exhausted, or that it cannot readily take the place of wood as an article of fuel. Now, there are certain simple and evident truths well to be considered. The more dependent the nation becomes upon the mines for its fuel, the more liable will be both the owners of the mines and the community at large to be oppressed by combinations and strikes among the miners. Already scarcely a year passes without such occurrences in the leading mines, producing anxiety and suffering to tens of thousands, and exacting unjust charges from all who are consumers. But again, the larger the regions denuded of lumber, and also destitute of coal, the greater the distances over which coal has to be transported. This enhances its price and increases the uncertainty of receiving a supply. Again, as the mines are worked longer and are sunk deeper, or are drifted further into the mountains, the cost of getting out the coal increases, while other mines will prove unprofitable and will be abandoned, and others will be utterly exhausted. An article in the London Times, as late as April 19, 1866, speaking of the duty of England to pay her national debt now, while in the zenith of her power, talks thus on the short supply of coal in that nation: “But we must look beyond this century. In THREE GENERATIONS—that is, in the days of our children’s children—we are told that all the coal of these islands that lies within four thousand feet of the surface will be exhausted if we go on increasing our consumption at the present rate. Coal is everything to us. Without coal our furnaces will become idle, our factories and workshops will be as still as the grave, the locomotive will rust in the shed, and the rail be buried in weeds, Our streets will be dark, our houses uninhabitable, our rivers will forget the paddle-wheel, and we shall be again separated by days from France, months from the United States. The past will lengthen its periods and protract its dates. A thousand special arts and manufactures, one by one, then in a crowd, will fly the empty soil, as boon companions are said to disappear when the cask is dry. We shall miss our grand dependence, as a man misses his companion, his fortune, or a limb, every hour and at every turn reminded of the irreparable loss. Wise England will then be the silly virgin without oil in her lamp. We shall be surrounded and overwhelmed by the unprofitable lumber of buildings and machinery that we cannot use, and with cities we cannot occupy; for who will care to live in Manchester? Who will be able to live in the metropolis? It is not so difficult to imagine the state we shall return to, for it takes only a middle-aged man to remember it. They would be sorry to be called old who can remember large towns lighted with oil lamps, the first steam vessel timidly creeping along our shores or up our rivers, and the hardly credited rumor of a steam engine on a ‘tramway.’ But the process of learning will be slow, and neither easy nor pleasant. To be sure, as coal becomes scarce and dearer we shall learn economy. We shall warm our houses more scientifically and improve our machinery. But meanwhile our descendants will witness another process equally exhaustive; the population will fellow coal wherever it is to be found, whether on foreign or on colonial soil. Our manufacturers will be beaten by those who then have this advantage over us, and the working classes will accept the invitation of the master that bids the highest. That is what they must do, for it is the law of existence. It is not easy or at all possible to forecast any point at which the various conflicting causes may fix the future of English labor, but we may as well expect a large population in Salisbury Plain, as a Manchester, a Liverpool, a Sheffield, or a Birmingham without coal, and cheap coal, too!” Such are the views so recently set forth by the London Times, asserting that the coal will be exhausted, that it will result in the prostration of British commerce and manufactures, and the ultimate depopulation of the British isles; and hence it urges the nation to pay its debt while this source of wealth and strength is still theirs.
Should not such words as these arouse Americans to the value of wood, which has a value in our nation of probably four times its value as mere fuel, and which, in the mere department of fuel, can do for all purposes except those of foundery and steamships upon their long voyages on the ocean, all that either anthracite or bituminous coal can do? Already the United States in its short period of existence has acquired a population equal to that of Great Britain, and all things would indicate that the nation, as regards population, is still in its infancy. We say, then, that government should regard this interest, because every person will be pecuniarily interested in it—it is national.
2. Government should aid in the development of this knowledge and science; because it is not remunerative to those who would do it privately. It will pay every man who owns a farm which has a scarcity of timber to begin, upon some systematic plan, the planting of trees, each year to invest some money and give a few days’ labor, thus steadily, persistently, but with small expense and little derangement to his other agricultural arrangements, supplying this want, But if he will undertake to plant trees as an experiment for the good of others, and make this his first and main occupation, he will both fail in business and starve in person. While he could raise one tree to a size suitable for any manufacturing purpose, he could, from the same ground, have sent, into market twenty crops of corn, wheat, grass, or hemp, or twenty shearings from his flock, cutting from the tenth generation of bucks and ewes raised by himself, or could have sent eight generations of fat beeves into the market. Not only will those who undertake such a work as ought for the nation to be done be compelled to make a vast outlay of money, but they will also expend their time, and lose not only the interest of their money, but also the means of living from year to year. The time when farmers are most busy will be the very time when these persons will also be the most engaged.
The knowledge obtained, and impulse given to tree-growing, will be realized by future generations more than this; and as nations have lives extending over centuries, while individuals live but for years, the nation should reward its real benefactors while they live.
The waste portions of the republic will in time thus be reclaimed, a larger area be subjected to cultivation, a greater population maintained, and thus the sow in coming ages be increased in happiness, in numbers, in strength and wealth.
There should be selected, with great care, suitable grounds, in various localities in the bounds of the United States, to be tilled and used as nurseries, in order that the best, surest, and quickest methods of propagation may be: certainly learned; that all the debated-questions, whether to propagate and transplant, or to plant and till where the trees are ultimately to stand; may be finally and truthfully determined; that the proper time in the season, and the best manner and the best age of the trees for transplanting, may be learned; that the kind and composition of the soils used in propagating, and the most promising soils into which to plant, may be all proved. The influence exerted by trees upon each other, as to their health and thriftiness, a subject of immense importance, and of which scarce anything is known, should be thoroughly. investigated, and not respecting a few kinds of trees, but of all those whose size and peculiar qualities will make them valuable either as fuel or lumber. The state of the atmosphere, the temperature, the amount of rains, the presence and direction of winds, should all be accurately observed and registered, and their effects upon the propagating or upon the young trees should be noted. The quantities of seed planted, its previous preparation, the location and. preparation of the beds, and the various methods of planting; together with all results, successful or unsuccessful, should be recorded.
When the trees are planted the experiments should be many and often repeated at what distances they shall be set, whether in lines equidistant or in lines wide apart, but the trees standing close in the line or in lines arranged so as to cause the trees to stand quincuncially; also, to determine the effects of shade upon the growth of trees, and to study the arrangement of small and short-growing trees in artificial forests, to learn the effects and secure the power of sunlight and heat to all. Trees also should be planted in various forms, as wind-breaks, orchards, lines to defend fields or fruit orchards; also with the smallest species to the windward, and the rankest growing varieties on the leeward; also in long parallels, especially to test their effects upon important meteorological points, sought to be established thereby. These trees should be measured from year to year, and an exact record kept both of height and circumference, the extremes of each species being noted, and then the general average for the season determined for each kind.
Not only should the experiments embrace the trees of America, but some experiments should be made upon the domestication and propagation of some of the best European and other trees; and not only should our forests of America be planted as we find them standing in nature, in various latitudes and. longitudes, but these should be mixed, and foreign trees intermingled with them.
An account should also be kept of the number of trees of each species annually injured by animals, insects, accident, storm, heat, cold and: disease, specifying by which destroyed; also a full account of the cost of propagating, setting, and cultivating, not only in the gross amount, but by particular items, so chat the knowledge may be reliable and exact for others.
A full annual report should be made of all the things tested by the experiments and sent to the Department of Agriculture, and, so far as may by it be deemed desirable, be spread through the country in the monthly annual issues of the department.
The writer, and others most conversant with the subject, think that the experiments should continue through not less than ten years of active labor, nor less than forty varieties of trees indigenous to this country be tested, nor the experiments be limited to less than 1,000,000 trees. Less than this would leave the work so feebly and slightly explored and accomplished that it ought to be done again. This, therefore, is the very least that the magnitude of the object can ask.
The cost, perplexities, risk, labor and study demanded for this enterprise is not conceived of by one person in 100,000 of our citizens; but a moment’s consideration will set them on a correct train of thought. While the number of American trees worthy to be tested is about forty, but few of these, and those the most readily grown, are found in our ordinary nurseries. Trees such as should be grown to make these experiments of any value wholesale at from ten to twenty-five dollars per hundred, and retail at prices from twenty-five cents to one dollar each. Being almost wholly demanded for ornament, the call for them is very limited, and they are raised in the nursery in the same manner as other trees, in closely standing rows, and thick in the row. The soil is of the finest quality, and worked with great ease. No extra fencing is required, and when the nurseryman digs them up he transfers all further care of them to other parties. He receives his money for the work performed, to be again invested in the same manner.
In the case of such experiments as have been mentioned above the circumstances are wholly different. With the first moment’s work commences an outlay of expense which will make no return under fifteen years, and then only as firewood. All the expense of making the experiments must be laid out before any income can begin to return, A railroad or a telegraph, or a ship company, almost from the beginning of their work commences receiving income; in such a work as this there is none. When the nursery work is far advanced, and the trees are ready to be removed, then the labor is but begun, New soil must be broken up to receive the trees, and it will require great breadths for this purpose. It is a great and costly labor to mark out and set 100,000 trees in a season. The new lands thus planted must be fenced either with wooden or live fencing, or the trees will be destroyed.
The trees must not stand, as in an ordinary nursery, crowded upon a small space and thickly in rows, but each needs a location where it can be singly cultivated. Neither should the experiments be made on one piece or tract of land— this would be economical—but the experiments on varieties and adaptations of soil, and on all thermometrical, hygrometrical, and pneumatical points, would be defeated thereby. In sections destitute of trees, one dense and large forest is not so much needed as many and scattered ones of much smaller size. If the plantings should thus be scattered, men and teams must be sent to great distances, and in various directions from a selected centre. The force of men and teams required for this work, it is supposed, after careful estimates, will be from five to six times as great as would be required to treat the same number of trees to seven years’ growth in a common nursery; while the expense attending the completion of a tree plantation will probably be five times as great as the cost of raising and disposing of an equal number of trees from a nursery. Such experiments ought to be commenced without delay. The annual taking away of 3,000,000 of acres of our wood-growing lands is cutting down and sweeping off our forests with frightful rapidity. Kansas, Nebraska in part, the whole of Utah, New Mexico, much of Texas and California, have not one sapling to spare. As population rolls into these regions, and the railroads are built through them, the one destitution, and the great drawback to every kind of business and to all prosperity, will be the lack of timber.
East of the Mississippi river, excepting the prairies, the territory of the United States is all timber-growing land. West of the Mississippi, the plains, the bad lands, and the sandy deserts, occupy probably two-thirds of all our domain. Soon those distant States will begin to draw upon the more favored sections, and those States now impoverishing themselves will have to share their remnant with others. This country still enjoys the blessed ignorance of not knowing what it is to purchase her common timber abroad. As yet we have imported only ornamental woods from other countries; but when we cannot supply our own artisans with our own wood, then, indeed, will it be a day of sorrow. Is it not time to change some of our soil, either bare of trees by nature, or denuded by the violence of man, into tree-bearing land?
Millions of dollars are yearly paid for wood fuel, and the demand increases annually. Fully ten millions of dollars’ worth of railroad sleepers are now annually called for by the railroads. More than one hundred millions of dollars’ worth of sawed lumber is now consumed yearly, while the addition of timber for building and naval purposes, for home manufactures and cooperage, will probably swell the aggregate to $250,000,000 per annum. Such is the yearly destruction. Already the nation begins to feel the drain and the scarcity; and to counterbalance even in the least degree this waste, such experiments as we have urged should be set on foot without a day’s delay.
It will take at least ten years to arouse the people to any considerable extent. Were man to begin to-day, it would take twenty years to produce one good oak or chestnut railroad sleeper. Before it would be ready for market the railroads will have paid for sleepers alone more than $300,000,000.
The Department of Agriculture, better than any other agency, can communicate such valuable information as these experiments would develop to the citizens at large. The publications of this department reach the very men upon whom all depends, the owners of the soil. But mere writing and printing are not enough to produce the desired impression and movement upon the masses. They want experimental demonstration; and merely individual, limited, and local experiments will not satisfy them. One person may write about planting a few acorns, a few butternuts or black walnuts, or a few chestnuts; another about sowing a little locust seed, and another about setting cottonwood cuttings. They are all well enough in their way, but they are meagre, imperfect, unsystematic and transient, as well as private. It should, then, to command public confidence and wide adoption, be known that such experiments were being made on an extensive scale by the government itself, or with its aid, and that all are free to visit the nurseries and plantations to see the work performed, and to make inquiries into the minutest particulars.
Then the information given by the government would be sought with greater interest, year after year, as the developments became more certain and confirmed; and such information would be considered authority on the subject. And thousands would even go great distances to see the actual working of the plan who would sleep reading over the theory and description.
We ought to learn from the experience of other nations great and terrible lessons, without madly insisting upon suffering the same disasters ourselves. The history of the world presents to us a fearful record respecting the destruction of the forests. Palestine and Syria, Egypt and Italy, France and Spain, have seen some of their most populous regions turned into forsaken wilderness, and their most fertile lands into arid, sandy deserts. The danger to our land is near at hand, NEARER BY FULL THIRTY YEARS than the most intelligent suppose; we need immediate action both for prevention and restoration.
Hon. G. P. Marsh, than whom no man living is more competent to speak on
this subject, thus warns his countrymen. His extensive travel, his high scholarship, his official position as United States minister to several foreign nations, his
wonderful powers of observation and deduction, give to his words, verified by
his own personal observation of the subject on four continents, the greatest
authority and power:
“There are parts of Asia Minor, of northern Africa, of Greece, and even of Alpine Europe, where the operation of causes set in action by man has brought the face of the earth to a desolation almost as complete as that of the moon; and though, within that brief space of time men call the “historical period,” they are known to have been covered with luxuriant woods, verdant pastures, and fertile meadows, they are now too far deteriorated to be reclaimable by man; nor can they become again fitted for human use except through great geological changes, or other mysterious influences or agencies of which we have no present knowledge, and over which we have no prospective control.
“The earth is fast becoming an unfit home for its noblest inhabitant, and another era of equal human crime and human improvidence, and of like duration with that through which traces of that crime and improvidence extend, would reduce it to such a condition of impoverished productiveness, of shattered surface, of climatic excess, as to threaten the depravation, barbarism, and, perhaps, even extinction of the species.
“The destructive changes occasioned by the agency of man upon the flanks of the Alps, the Appenines, the Pyrenees, and other mountain ranges in central and southern Europe, and the progress of physical deterioration, have become so rapid that, in some localities, A SINGLE GENERATION HAS WITNESSED THE BEGINNING AND THE END of the melancholy revolution.
“It is certain that a desolation like that which has overwhelmed many once beautiful and fertile regions of Europe, awaits an important part of the territory of the United States, unless prompt measures are taken to check the action of destructive causes already in operation. It is in vain to expect that legislation can do anything effectual to arrest the progress of the evil, except so far as the State is still the proprietor of extensive forests. Both Clavê and Dunoyer agree that the preservation of the forests in France is practicable only by their transfer to the state, which alone can protect them and secure their proper treatment. It is much to be feared that even this measure would be inadequate to save the forests of our American Union.
“There is little respect for public property in America, and the federal government certainly would not be the proper agent for this purpose. It proved itself unable to protect the live-oak woods of Florida, which were intended to be preserved for the use of the navy; and it more than once paid contractors a high price for timber stolen from its own forests.
“The only legal provisions from which anything can be hoped are such as shall make it matter of private advantage to the landholder to spare the trees upon his ground, and promote the growth of the young wood. Something may be done by exempting standing forests from taxation, and by imposing taxes on wood felled for fuel or timber; something by premiums or honorary distinctions for judicious management of the woods. It would be difficult to induce governments, general or local, to make the necessary appropriations for such purposes. But there can be no doubt that it would be sound economy in the end.”
Such are some of the thoughts and words of this eminent scholar, statesman, and observer, published after this company had been fully organized, and for years in contemplation. His whole book, “Man and Nature,” bears testimony on every page to the existing wants and evils already upon us and which make the action of government an instant and imperative necessity.
How much could be accomplished of absolute tree-planting as the results of such experiments and information?
No exact and positive answer can be given to this question. We can, however, upon very low and probably safe data, show what could be accomplished were those data adopted practically, and thus made facts. There is a possibility that from such experiments, whether by the government or by a company, it might become proven that a great forest nursery, under scientific and skilful management, might supply farmers with trees to set for forest, better and cheaper than they could themselves propagate them. And thus a trade might arise, if sufficient interest could be awakened in it, which would furnish every farmer with such and so many trees as his time and inclination might from year to year lead him to plant. But whether he shall propagate them himself or purchase them is immaterial to our estimate, which is as follows:
There were in 1860 in the State of Illinois 143,210 farms in cultivation. Let us suppose that only one-third of these farms were prairie lands; and again suppose that only one-third of those having farms bare of timber take any interest in the subject, and that these take so little interest in it that in ten years they shall plant but five acres to each farm. Then one farm in nine through Illinois would plant one-half an acre of forest orchard each year; and yet in the aggregate, it would amount to 90,000 acres of forest, equal to 270,000 acres of common forest, or 156 square miles, or four and a half townships. It should be remembered that it is estimated that one acre of scientifically and mathematically selected and planted forest is equivalent, in ultimate amount, to at least two acres, and in value to three or four acres of ordinary forest; so that the acres planted and grown in replacement are entitled to count far higher than simply acre against acre. Does any one exclaim, “This seems but a drop in the sea?” A beginning certainly must be made, or nothing will ever be done. If the timber of this nation is saved or restored, it is to be accomplished by labor and planting, and the sooner all are aroused and commence the better.
Some few persons of large means in this country, with a simple view to beauty, or to meet their particular plans in conducting the various branches of the farmer’s profession, have laid off their farms with great care and excellent judgment fer the ends sought to be secured. But such persons often purchase the farms they own and thus beautify; when these come into their possession, the roads and lanes, the shape and location of the woods, and the general plan of fields, are all settled, some of them in a manner which cannot be changed or modified. But to find farms that have been laid off with a view to future years, or on any general and carefully considered plan, which could be repeated indefinitely on every side, one will look in vain.
Farms are generally so small, and the persons who open and improve them are so poor, that they have neither time, room, nor money to commence their farms aright, and for their own future interests. It would require combination among many neighbors, a well matured and faithfully followed plan, and a high intelligence, to so alternate and arrange forests and arable lands as to accord with certain great principles in nature, which, if regarded, would enrich and benefit all who come within their influence.
As it is now, each farmer by his own notion, often with no sound reason, clears one part and leaves forest on another portion. No one studies his neighbors’ farm, or questions him as to what he intends to cut away or leave, and thus he is wholly ignorant of what the surroundings of his own farm will be. Each farm ignores the existence of any other on the whole continent. No two, much less five, ten, twenty, or fifty neighbors come together and enter into an intelligent agreement, fixing upon plans seeking to control or modify the severity of winds, droughts, frosts and winters, and to secure frequent, abundant and perennial springs of water.
There are in our country some extensive tracts of forests still unbroken, or but just penetrated by the pioneer, where it is possible that some system might be adopted by the settlers, however poor, which shall show to the country and the world how beautiful, healthy and productive a country man can make by preserving the forest in its full proportion to the cleared land, and in the proper forms.
And should the government, or any company, ever execute experiments on a scale such as this interest demands, then, certainly, upon those portions already by nature ready for the plough, there should be given a specimen of what can be done by study, science and forethought to make agriculture, and rural scenery, and farm homesteads what they ought to be.
Geographers, by an averaging of the coasts and boundary lines of the United States, have fixed its geographical centre in the State of Kansas, about twenty- five miles west by six miles south of the city of Leavenworth. This is the real centre, though far too much to the west for the probable centre of population. The thermometrical observations taken for many years at Cantonment Leavenworth (while that was still "Indian” and then “Nebraska” Territory) showed “that Fort Leavenworth was subjected, beyond any other part of the United States where similar observations were made, to sudden and extreme changes, both of heat and cold, of moisture and drought.” (Authority of Major E. D. Ogden, U.S.A., 1854.) Since the settlement of Kansas the terrible droughts experienced, and the many men who have perished with the cold on the plains between Leavenworth and Salt Lake, bear evidence to the truth of the observations.
And this is to be expected in the nature of things. There is no body of water in the central part of the North American continent, west of the Mississippi river, which is able to exert any controlling influence upon the temperature of all that region. When we go north from Fort Leavenworth five degrees we are in a cold and frozen climate, closed early in the fall and locked in frost until late in the spring. Pass five degrees southward, and you have almost forsaken the region where ice may be said to form; hence this middle ground is wholly controlled by the prevailing type of the season, interspersed with the sudden and ofttimes violent interjection of short periods of temperature from the opposite points of the compass. Thus the general winter may be mild, without snow, with scarcely frost enough to prevent ploughing a single week through the entire winter, and there may come one, two, or five days, when the thermometer shall stand anywhere from zero to 26° below zero. On the other hand, in a long, cold, snowy winter, a period of very spring or early summer, as regards its balminess and comfort, may break in with equal suddenness. The same latitude upon either the Atlantic or Pacific coast is no criterion by which to judge of the temperature of the plains. The presence of a great ocean, with its broad, open bosom continually exposing to the biting air the fresh warm currents of her inmost being, gives a stability and produces a control over the temperature which is unknown when we reach a point almost two thousand miles from each ocean, and one thousand from the Gulf of Mexico. No portion of the world more needs the presence of great and numerous forests to preserve an equilibrium of temperature than the central parts of North America, and especially upon this latitude, which, as it approaches either ocean, is so admirable and so much sought for.
The same causes which produce such instability of temperature have an almost equal and direct effect upon the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. The depth of the Missouri and Mississippi are insufficient to produce much effect upon temperature by their simple, positive presence; the results which are obtained come rather from the processes of evaporation. I suppose that were the Missouri river, from its mouth to the headwaters of the Yellowstone, to be laid out in a straight line, and its tributaries to be laid on each side of it, side by side, that the surface of that mighty river would average a mile in width by three thousand in length, giving an evaporating surface of 3,000 square miles. When we remember that the Missouri river discharges all the water cast of the Rocky mountains north of the Arkansas headwaters, except what is carried by the St. Peter’s and the Des Moines into the Mississippi, it will be seen that a little lake, sixty miles long and fifty wide, is not a large surface from which to evaporate water in so vast a territory.
Hear G. P. Marsh, fortified by the ablest European writers, respecting the appropriate proportions between wooded and tilled lands, in order to secure the highest agricultural and healthful returns.
In 1750 Mitabeau estimated that there should be retained in France thirty- two per cent. of the land in wood. The forest was destroyed, with most disastrous effects upon the general prosperity, far faster than his estimate allowed, and the percentage was reduced far below that proportion. Marsh says: “It is evident that the proportion of forest in 1750, taking even Mirabeau’s large estimate, was not very much too great for permanent maintenance, though doubtless the distribution was so unequal that it would have been sound policy to fell the woods and clear land in some provinces, while large forests should have been planted in others. During the period in question France neither exported manufactured wood or rough timber, nor derived important collateral advantages of any sort from the destruction of her forests. She is consequently impoverished and crippled to the extent of the difference between what she actually possesses of wooded surface, and what she ought to have retained.
“Since writing the above paragraph, I found the view I have taken of this point confirmed by the careful investigations of Reutzsch, who estimates the proper proportion of woodland to entire surface of twenty-three per cent. for the interior of Germany, and supposes that near the coast, where the air is supplied with humidity by evaporation from the sea, it might safely be reduced to twenty per cent. The due proportion in France would considerably exceed that for the German states.”
Now, if the German states require 23 per cent. midway between the North sea, the Baltic, and the Mediterranean, what is demanded for the great area between the Mississippi and Rocky Mountains, almost without water from the Gulf of California to the Polar sea!
My mind has been often impressed with the wisdom and goodness of God in the peculiar configuration He has given to this great region, and the consequences resulting from it. Had the main Missouri river come eastward, in the line of the great Platte or the Kansas river, there would have been lost to all the immense valleys of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers one great blessing. The Missouri river from its sources runs northward into British America, there making an immense curve, while, running eastward, it comes to take a southerly course, until it turns with another great curve, and southeasterly cuts the State of Missouri asunder and pours into the Mississippi eighteen miles north of St. Louis. The providential depression to the northward, eastward, and southward, successively, causing the waters to flow by that strange route to the northward, to reach at last the Gulf of Mexico, making the distance from the mouth of the Missouri to the headwaters of the Yellowstone about 2,000 miles longer by the channel than by a straight line drawn between the two points. When one thinks on the obstructions by sand-bars, drift heaps, snags, and the crookings of the river itself, he will understand that the water drained from the eastern slope of the Rocky mountains and all the northwestern side of the divide between the Upper Missouri and the Upper Big Platte has 2,000 miles more to travel to reach St. Louis than had it come, like the Platte, by a direct eastern or southeastern line, and that it will therefore come many days or even weeks later on that account. If we assume that the current runs five miles an hour, then that is about one hundred miles a day, and twenty days or three weeks must be allowed for the distance in traversing the great northern curve. But rapid as the river is—and it is a most majestic one when it puts on its power—the current is not equally swift in all places, sometimes being widely spread out or running in several channels. We shall assume two and a half miles per hour as its uniform motion, and then forty days, or about six weeks, must be allowed to elapse in calculating the coming of the mountain waters. But this arrangement has another peculiar providence. Had this immense curve run southward and then northward, emptying at the same point as now, another blessing would have been lost. As it now is, the spring rains and melting snows on the mountains are all garnered up in the valley of the Yellowstone,and other tributaries, increasing in volume as the heats of spring slowly creep north, unlocking the ice-bound rivers. The last point that breaks under the heat and accumulating flood is the northernmost point of this great arch, and there more than 1,200 miles of rivers and melted snows are waiting with their contribution of waters; and at last on they come, sometimes earlier, sometimes later, but always as certain as the year returns; on they come, and when? The spring rains that swelled the Red, Tennessee, Cumberland, Arkansas, Ohio, Illinois, and Upper Mississippi have been over many weeks. Some of the rivers are growing low, and navigation is difficult. What shall the great valley of the Mississippi do for water, to. be changed hourly into vapor by the sun, whose fierceness is becoming every hour more intolerable? Where shall they obtain water for the rain? Every rain which comes is welcomed by the boatmen, for it floats their steamers, barges and flatboats. Every rain is hailed by the husbandman because it saves and revives his crops. Spring and its rains have gone, and summer comes; and now, sometimes far on in June, comes the “June rise,” a name of grandeur, of joy, of activity, of wealth, of harvests to all the dwellers on the stream, from the Gulf of Mexico to the far-off British line of the northwest! The river rises with the “June rise,” sometimes six feet in twenty- four hours, until it stands for days at twelve to sixteen feet above low water. And sometimes, when heavy snows in the mountains are followed by a sudden, warm and rainy spring, so that the waters of the spring have not escaped before the mountain tides come riding down over them and commingling with them, come the terrific floods and overflows like that of 1844.
Is not that a most manifest and merciful provision of Providence, for all that central region of which we have been speaking, to retain that great body of waters so long for purposes of evaporation, and then, when the whole Lower Mississippi would be straitened for water for navigation, to pour this abundance through June, July, and sometimes into August, till its effects are scarcely lost before the fall rains begin to replenish the rivers? Were it not for this grand river, it is my opinion that, much of that region would be utterly uninhabitable by man. And ought we because forests’ are wanting in all that region—shall we leave the lands to neglect and comparative barrenness, when, by adding forests as great modifiers and controllers of temperature and precipitation, they may probably become as desirable as any lands we possess, considering their locations as connected with our mineral wealth? No civilized nation should regard this subject with profounder interest, or prosecute it with an in- tenser energy, than our own.
All wood that has been so used as to make it a part of man’s real estate, or which is the staple of the man’s business as a manufacturer, is taxed as real estate or manufactured products. But all wood thus invested in any manner, where it pays to the owner an income, whether it is in movable or fixed form, is obliged, if he has any income over six hundred dollars, to pay a second time on all that it has clearly produced him, except what he before paid as taxes It is thus true that, in one form or the other, all standing timber, all lumber and wood used in houses, steamboats, or permanent instruments of any kind, and all that is used in industry or manufacturing, pays a tribute to the United States.
Let us take, then, the real estate of the United States:
In the erection of ordinary buildings of brick and stone—not cut-stone walls—and with wooden floors and joists, it is estimated that the cost of timbering, flooring, roofing, wainscoting, the finishing of entrances, cornices, cupolas, doors, window-sashes and blinds, makes an expense for wood-work equal to at least that for all the brick and stone work. The wood-work, then, which represents not only the raw material, but the labor necessary to put it in its complete form and appropriate use, pays one-half of the tax accruing upon that improved property. And taxes are very light upon the same land, wherever situated, when without buildings, in comparison to what they are when improved. But we must go further back.
It required, if the building is one of brick, wood with which to burn the clay, making about one-third the expense of making the brick. In like manner the lime is burned with wood, and half its value arose from that expense. But the clay is in the bank, the rock is in the quarry, and wagons, made greatly of wood, must carry the one to the kiln and the other to the pug-mill; and, when burned, the same wagon is needed to draw them from the kilns to the place of using. But then we have not gone far enough back. The brickmaker, the limeburner, the stonemason, the bricklayer, the plasterer, the painter, the carpenter, have all needed wood in their houses for fuel, in their dwellings to shelter them, in their stables to protect their animals. But come to the building itself. Hogsheads and lime box, a hod and a scraper, a mortar board and a pail, tressels and scaffolds, inclined planes and ladders, a plumb and a trowel—wood, wood, incessantly wood! Even for the mason, the same for the plasterer, the painter, the carpenter, everything he grasps to work with is, first of all, wood. Far more than one-half of all the value of ordinary brick and stone buildings in the United States has come from wood, and pays one-half of the taxes. But we come to other buildings. There were in the United States in 1860 3,362,337 dwelling-houses, besides all public buildings, churches, educational institutions, stores, manufactories, depots, warehouses, &c. How large a proportion of these were brick we cannot tell; but by far the great majority were of wood. And what proportion of their cost came from manufactured wood? A little hardware, a little paint, a little masonry, the plastering, and all else was wood. But let us estimate a little on farm-houses, When these are built of brick, the lime and brick are often burned with fuel cut on the very farm where the house is erected. The barns and outhouses, and the fences, are also generally constructed of wood, Now, if we assume that the houses, barns, and fences give but one-half the value to the farm at which it is assessed, (which estimates the land unimproved as worth half as much as when thus improved,) then this astounding fact comes to our notice—the value of farms in the United States in 1860 was $6,654,045,007, and the value of the lumber improvements would be $3,322,522,000. This has been cut from our soil and put into these permanent improvements, and pays taxes.
Now, the vast majority of these improvements have been made) within the last thirty years, (probably twenty;) and as within that time, probably, old houses, barns and fences have been replaced sufficient to make the whole amount new; during that period, on farnis alone, there has been cut and used annually, and changed into permanent tax-paying property, $101,070,000 worth of forest. These improvements continually are growing old and falling to decay. But this is a single item. “A good barn will build a good house,” is an adage that thousands of farmers have proved true; the protection of crops, the defence of stock, the shelter of vehicles and implements, have saved thousands of dollars to many a farmer. How much of the income tax paid by the farmers of the nation represents the wood in their utensils, vehicles, barns, stables and fences, outside of the value assessed directly upon them.
But pass a moment to manufactures. The cotton manufactures are the second in the United States, as reported ia the census for 1860, the products being $115,137,926; the value of flour and grist mill products being the first, and amounting to $223,144,369. Let us now take lumber, and contrast it with these. There was of sawed and planed lumber in 1860, $96,000,000 worth. The products of the grist-mills furnished occupation to 19,000 bakers, besides being used in every household supplied by the baker. The products from the cotton-mills, besides the private use in families, in part, gave employment to 90,000 seamstresses and 102,000 tailors and tailoresses. But as one-half the labor of these was expended on woollen, silk, or linen fabrics, it gave direct employment to about 96,000 men and women. Now, the direct tax on the produced timber was almost as great as on the cotton goods, while in the line of furnishing employment to others in the simple trade of carpentry alone, employing only men, it gave business to 242,958, or nearly three times as many as worked in cotton, and thirteen times as many as worked in flour and meal.
The iron interest and the machinery interest (often requiring much lumber) are immense, but the pig iron in 1860 amounted to only $19,487,790, and the bar and other rolled iron to $22,248,796, making a total of $41,736,586. The machinery made in this country in 1860 amounted in value to $47,118,550, and of sewing machines to $5,605,345, making a total of iron produced and machinery manufactured in 1860 of $94,460,481—a million and a half dollars less than the raw lumber of the country which had passed through the saw-mill.
I have before said that there are sixty-six trades in whole or in part dependent upon wood as their material for manufacturing. What they can earn or do earn cannot be known; but two points will help us approximate. There were 29,223 cabinet-makers, who produced $22,701,304 worth of ware; also 3,510 piano-makers, musical-instrument makers and organ-builders, who made $5,791,807 worth of musical instruments. If we should average these two trades, we should certainly set our mark too high, as one is low, and the other unusually high, demanding skilled labor. The production per capita above was, in the first $771, in the other $1,651. Should we estimate the production of those 476,623 artisans in wood at $1,000 each, we should have nearly $500,000,000 per annum, of which scarcely a trifle, excepting the two items above of about $28,000,000, appears in any column of the census. This is additional to the making of the lumber itself. From all incomes over $600 the United States exacts a tax.
United States buildings, capitols and public buildings belonging to the respective States, and all educational institutions and county property, and generally churches, are exempted from taxation, and therefore are of no value under this particular point of revenue, although, if they are of such vast importance, subserve such necessary and useful purposes, and are paid for by the money of the people generally, their wood pays its tribute to the maintenance of government, the dispensing of justice, and the diffusion of religious truth and influence through the nation.
We are told that the manufacturers of the United States, together with the mines and fisheries, produced in the United States in 1860, $1,900,000,000.
Of all the cotton and woollen factories, of furnaces, rolling mills, flour and grist mills, machine shops, furniture, implement and cooper-shops, of all the manufacturing establishments of every description, what proportion of the value invested and helping to produce this vast amount was wood, and paid its tax, first as real estate, then in incomes of proprietors?
We have spoken of dwellings, then of manufacturing establishments. We come now to commercial and mercantile houses. Of all the buildings used for banking and insurance purposes, for offices, for public halls, for theatres and museums, for all kinds of business, and for ail kinds of storage, what per cent. of all the values of these buildings is wood, and, as asked before, pays a double tax?
But when we come to one other point, we meet timber under a new aspect. In 1860 the ships of the United States had an aggregate tonnage of 5,539,812 tons, and were worth, at $40 per ton, $221,592,480. In 1860 there were a few iron steamers, but the great mass of American vessels were built wholly of wood. When we remember that it is through their instrumentality that those articles are brought which yield such a national income to the government, surely wood stands forth, demanding again the acknowledgment of its value and power which thoughtless men have never given to it.
But there is an interest growing up among us which is destined, in time, to control every other of a mere pecuniary kind; it is the railroad power and railroad contributions; and from a few facts connected with these (I have early alluded to one or two in payt) may be seen how here, as well as elsewhere, wood pays its tribute to the United States treasury.
The report of the engineer of the State of New York on the railroads of that State, for 1864, is in my hand, with the latest and most reliable information. By it I find that to fence forty-nine miles of the Atlantic railroad in the lumber portion of that State cost $35,680 70, or $728 a mile. At the same rate the fences for the 51,114 miles, either operating or being constructed in 1862, would amount to $37,208,992, a value greater than the entire value of the New York Central railroad. Thirty-four railroads in the State of New York paid $2,311,213 for bridges, on an aggregate of 2,798 miles of roads, which is equivalent to $826 for each mile of road. Assuming one-half of that amount for wooden bridges, there would be required in the United States $42,817,144 for wooden railroad bridges.
The superstructure of the 2,798 miles of New York railroads cost $22,253 72; taking one-eighth for the cost of sleepers, gives about $1,000 per mile; for the railroads of 1862, it makes about $50,000,000 in this item.
Passenger and freight stations and buildings cost $1,519 for each mile of road; assume one-half for wood, $760 per mile; for the United States, $38,846,000.
The wood value in the engine and car houses, &c, in the United States is $8,961,607. The wood value in the freight and passenger cars in 1862 was, in like manner, $67,810,480. We thus see, upon a very low estimation, that the probable amount of wood in the railroads built and building in the United States in 1862, was $215,664,223, amounting to nearly one-fifth of all the expense—earth, stone, brick, and iron.
When we come to estimate the cost of keeping up these roads, we see again how much the income derived from this great interest is dependent upon wood.
The repairing for 1864 of roadway and superstructure of the New York railways cost, not including iron, $4,747,523. What part of this was, strictly speaking, wood itself, it is difficult to answer. A vast amount was doubtless expended in ballasting the road; but when a sleeper is broken and decayed, the more complete and perfect the roadway, the more time, labor and expense required to dig out a new bed to insert the sleeper, and to properly adjust, fasten, and ram it. If we assign one-third of the expense above for sleepers, and placing them properly, then this item for New York alone, in 1864, was $1,582,301, and for the United States $30,063,719. We also, in brief, make other estimates from the same table:
Repairs of railroad buildings for New York $750,000, for United States $14,250,000; repairs of railroad fences for New York $93,236, for United States $1,771,485; repairs-of railroad cars for New York $2,000,000, for United States $38,000,000; fuel (wood) of railroad for New York $3,000,000, for United States $57,000,000.
If, then, these estimates hold true, and they are based upon all the railroads of New York, (thirty-four in number,) long and short, rich and poor, crowded and empty, we see that in the United States the lumber, timber, and wood used for railroad purposes alone (not to build a foot of new road, but only to keep up the road, stocks, and fires) require of wood $141,085,104. But we should never, as Palaissy declared, come to the end of the enumeration, and we will stop.
But I would ask, most respectfully, that every farmer and every intelligent man should ask his congressional senator and representative why we should not have, from this day forth, full tables respecting the timber, lumber, and wood of our country, compiled for the public benefit in the census? This is, I believe, the greatest interest of a pecuniary kind connected with our government; and all the facts connected with it should be sought out and set before the public.
Now is the time to act; we should regard and forestall the future. God has given us a great and goodly heritage—a grand and broad and luxuriant country; but it is our forests that have made this country so salubrious, so fertile. Shall we not preserve and cherish with care what remains, and plant on every quarter section destitute of trees, in all our land, its proper complement of forest, until from sea to sea it shall seem to all men “like the garden of the Lord?”I append a copy of the new law of Kansas, to which I have alluded, and which, I think, is the greatest step towards the production of American forests ever taken in this country, and one which places the entire nation under a debt of gratitude to that State and its legislature:
“Section 1. Be it enacted by the legislature of the State of Kansas, That any person planting one acre or more of prairie land, within ten years after the passage of this act, with any
kind of forest trees, and successfully growing and cultivating the same for three years, and every person planting, protecting, and cultivating for three years one-half mile or more of forest trees along any public highway, said trees to be planted so as to stand at the end of said three years not more than one rod apart, shall be entitled to receive for twenty-five
years, commencing three years after said grove or line of trees has been planted, an annual
bounty of two dollars per acre for each acre so planted, and two dollars for one-half mile for
each mile so planted, to be paid out of the county treasury of the county in which said grove
or line of trees may be situated; Provided, the bounty hereby given shall not be paid any
longer than said grove or trees are cultivated and kept alive and in a growing condition.
“Sec. 2. That any person wishing to avail himself or herself of the provisions of section one of this act, shall, within three years after planting said grove or line of trees, file with the clerk of the county a correct plat of said grove or line of trees, showing on what section or sections of land said grove or line of trees is situated, attested by his oath, and the affidavit of at least one resident householder, setting forth all the facts in relation to the growth and cultivation of said grove or line of trees; whereupon the county clerk shall, if he find from all the evidence that section one of this act has been fully complied with, on or before the first Monday in October in each year, cause warrants to be issued upon the county treasurer of the proper county for the bounty above provided for, which order shall be received by the treasurer in payment of all county taxes.
“Sec. 3. This act to take effect and be in force from and after its publication once in the Leavenworth Conservative.
"Approved February 16, 1866."
As remarked in the body of this article, I consider such an appropriation of money as the most productive of any that that State will ever spend, in increasing population, reclaiming waste lands, and raising all real estate in value by controlling climatic extremes and favoring the growth of all cultivated crops.[Next chapter: The Onion