Convincing Proofs of the Approach of a Timber Famine.—Manufacture of Charcoal in New England, and Quantities of Wood Annually Consumed thereby. — The Destruction of Forests on the Tittabawassee and Cass Rivers Illustrated. — The Immensity of Forest Destruction in Nevada.—A Prediction of Nevada's Future.
If any one doubts the danger of a timber famine in the United States at some future day, let him look at the destruction of trees in his own neighborhood. Where are the forests that sheltered our youth ? Where are the big woods in which we hunted the red deer, the black and gray squirrel, and an occasional bear ? Gone, gone, and all the game with them. I remember the furnaces of my own county, Centre, in Pennsylvania, how they never ceased until all the big woods were cut down and burned up into charcoal to make iron.
A few years ago, in the towns of Canaan, Salisbury, Norfolk, Sharon, Cornwall, and Goshen, comprising the northwestern part of Litchfield County, Connecticut, and a small portion of Dutchess County, New York, and Berkshire County, Massachusetts, were no leas than twelve iron furnaces for the manufacture of charcoal pig-iron, from iron dug within these districts. These furnaces made about 3500 tons of pig-iron each per year, at a cost of about $40 per ton, or $1,680,000 for the whole. More than half this amount was paid for wood consumed in the shape of charcoal. To run these furnaces one year it required that between four and five hundred acres of land should be stripped of the wood, or a total of between five and six thousand acres cut every year.
As every one knows, it takes about twenty years there to make a crop of wood, the whole amount of land stripped bare would be in the neighborhood of one hundred thousand acres, or nearly the whole of the woodland in the section above named. But not only in one or two states, but in all the states the destruction goes steadily on. Take, for the purpose of illustration, the records of the amount of logs rafted out of the great lumber-producing streams of the Saginaw districts for a number of years. In round numbers the Tittabawassee rafted out 288,000,000 feet of logs in 1871, 316,000,000 feet in 1872, and 269,000,000 feet in 1873, and had left each year from two hundred to three hundred million feet. In 1873 the amount left over was stated at 250,000,000 feet. Taking the amount rafted out and the amount left over in 1873, we should have 519,000,000 feet as the total product of the Tittabawassee lumbering that year. Up to August of 1874 there had been rafted out of the Tittabawassee 1,202,371 pieces, or about 215,000,000 feet, and there were left back about 100,000,000 feet, making a total for the year of, say, 315,000,000 feet for 1874, against 519,000,000 feet for 1873.
Let us take the Cass Eiver, the largest lumber-producing stream of this region except the Tittabawassee. In 1871 there were rafted out 'of the Cass River 55,841,-618 feet of logs; in 1872 there were 99,913,935 feet; in 1873 there were 109,450,140 feet; and in 1874, all the logs being now out, there have been but 48,260,800 feet, and there are no logs left.
We might continue these illustrations by exhibiting the figures for the other streams in this section, and by giving the facts concerning the immense waste of forests, but these will do for one region.
A Virginia City (Nevada) paper says that an immense destruction of the forest is taking place in that vicinity, and in a short time the lumbermen have advanced from the base to the summit of the Sierras, and soon they will go over the crest; consequently it is predicted that when the timber is all gone the snow will melt early in summer, leaving the streams from which they irrigate dry, and cold and fierce winds will have an uninterrupted and unobstructed sweep, making the country uninhabitable.