Sunday, February 12, 2023

Wood you believe this?

Powered by the steam engines of the industrial revolution the earliest large scale industry in Florida was timber. Florida was heavily forested with huge ancient trees and there were sawmills everywhere which cut boards for export to the north and local construction.

The Goethe Sawmill at Bamboo
In places we often ride around there was the Waterman Sawmill at Moss Bluff which opened in 1876, the Stanton Sawmill 1861 (Lake Weir on the site of Kiwanis Beach), Hesters Sawmill (south of Lady Lake), and the Goethe Sawmill (c1900) at Bamboo (where the Rohan Recreation Center now stands). There were also mills in Wildwood and Leesburg.

The circular saw was invented in 1850
All the towns we ride by were built with wood. It was used for factories, farm buildings, houses, furniture, railroad cars, wagons, fences, barrels and crates. Wood was burned to power the steam engines to generate electricity, pump water and the sawmills themselves. About the only thing you can't do with wood is eat it - sure you can grow fruit - but it's not the same thing!

Huge pine logs - not what we see in the Ocala Forest now.
Fortunately, in 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Ocala National Forest into existence and since then the Florida Forest Service has been formed to make sure that forests, which still cover 50% of the state, are protected and the timber industry sustainable.