“It took four men with joined hands to encircle the trunk of one granddaddy white pine. The trees on this high ground had won a centuries-old competition for sun and soil. In a few places, ancient giants had fallen and allowed some light to touch ground. In these pockets of sun, birch and balsam saplings vied with young white pines for control.” – Walter Meets Mack – pg 74
Walter Mack in his service to the Zumbro Logging Company helps to cut down some of the last big old growth pine trees in Minnesota. Old growth white pine lumber was especially prized for its tight grain, light weight, strength and resistance to decay. Walter and the other lumberjacks needed to work and a growing nation with millions of new immigrants needed wood for building. Still, Walter has mixed feelings about his role in clear cutting the north woods.
At one time centuries old growth pine trees could be found across the northland. One place where you can still see white and red pines 300 years old is the Lost 40 Scientific and Natural Area. Visiting the Lost Forty really helped me to imagine and write about the Minnesota woods before logging. Below is a picture of a naturalist having a close encounter with a giant white pine.