Colonial Forests Logging History

The Early Settlers and Colonists
This is a brief timeline of the logging of the early American forests. When the colonists came to the new land, everywhere they settled was total wilderness.

They were surrounded by unbroken woods and Indians. They thought they were safe in the shelter of the forest, but then realized it was not safe, the forest was in the way. It became something to overcome. It was a menace to isolated settlements, and it stood in the way of homes and farms.

We learned by studying the forests, that it was the "conquest of the forest" that became the main driving force for pushing westward all during early American history. Below is our basic timeline of gathered information, to help us realize what was going on back then.

Basic Colonial Forest Timeline

- Europe was getting overcrowded and was running out of trees

- The explorers realized the wealth in furs and built trading posts

- At first they paid Europeans to come and settle in the New Land

- Some Indians didn't like this invasion, some Indians welcomed it.

- The traders eventually ran out of furs and noticed the trees

- They started cutting the large forests and exporting the wood

- Then Europeans had to pay to come to the New Land

- They settled by rivers and streams and some on the coast, a good source of fish

- The waterways were a natural course of travel because of the traders

- They build log cabins, but the Indians won't stop attacking them

- So they built forts around their cabins, but that doesn't help

- They start clearing the forests, that's where the money's at now

- The Connecticut River is full of logs floating downstream

- Land is sold in 300 acre lots to farmers, to clear 3/4 of it

- Logging companies buy land cheap, clear the trees and resell land to settlers

- Settlers build the villages, but get tired of looking at stumps

- Then logging companies buy more land westward and move

- They build new mills to process the wood as they go

- And then desert the mills when they're finished

- Leaving the countryside nothing but stumps and burnt trimmings

- Smoke fills the air because fires are everywhere

- America was becoming the "land of stumps"

In Conclusion

The colonists also found in the forest a storehouse of materials for building, furniture making, wagons, and building boats. The early New England villages built the little mills that pushed a slash saw up and down by the running water, all along the rivers and streams. They also ground corn or wheat. The forest was always near at hand, and started many village manufacturers. But then something happened, they ran out of forest. They realized that they were looking at a land of stumps as far as the eye can see. Thats why national reserves and parks were created. Which, by the way, are against the law to metal detect. But this is not the point we are trying to make.

Are You A Relic Hunter?

What does studying the forests have to do with metal detecting? Well, if you stop and think about it, how "old" are the trees in the woods where you're detecting? The age of the trees can give you an indication as to the last time the land was cleared. If you go hunting in a woods, and the oldest penny you find is from the 1940's then it's pretty safe to assume, that's when the land was last cleared.

We went on a hunt in Massachusetts a few years ago, and was told the place we were going to had "fourth" generation trees. How old is that? He already did his research. So, the next time you're in the woods detecting, do like we do, look for the oldest tree around and start there.