• A Sudden Light Interior

The Timber Barons

timber barons

Photo:http://www.ingomar.org

“We are prone to speak of the resources of this country as inexhaustible; this is not so.”  Theodore Roosevelt

The founding fathers of our country have always struggled with the balance of development of our resources verses the preservation of those resources.  Our country grew quickly, and with a certain amount of greed, and the wealth to be reaped from the land seemed endless.  It was not so.

The so-called “timber barons” of the 19th and 20th centuries did much to tax the natural resources of the mid-west and the west.  (They also have done much to preserve and renew those resources since the conservation movement began long ago.)  But there is no doubt that, in a time of seemingly limitless land and resources, little government oversight (indeed, a great deal of government collusion), and no obligation to repay society in some small measure (until the government imposed an  income tax), the timber barons did quite well for themselves while others, including the environment, didn’t fair as well.

Personally, I believe that leading a thoughtful life will solve many problems of the individual as well as society at large.  Understanding the positions of those with differing opinions, and respecting their positions, can work wonders if they understand and respect your positions in return.  Development and conservation can co-exist.  I have no doubt.  Still, many people turn a deaf ear to the opposition.  And until we can learn to listen to those with whom we disagree, we will never hear them.  In fact, most of the rhetoric I hear on the radio and television, and read in newspapers today, reflects no listening or understanding at all!  I’m convinced that’s why our government has ceased to govern.

When I was a little kid, I drew a picture of the first moon-landing.  I remember watching it with my father on the black-and-white Zenith TV in the play room.  I sent off that picture to the president of the United States, and he replied with a form letter and a photo of himself, which impressed me quite a bit at four years old.  So, having had direct contact with his press office, I believe I have the authority to quote then president of the United States, Richard Nixon:

“We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another – until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices.”

Where is the balance between preservation and development?  No single account of an incident is unbiased, I know.  But the following article about the timber industry in the Northwest in 1989, reflects how divisive issues can become and how nuanced are the interests of the parties involved:

Timber Wars: Footloose Wobs Urgently Needed

And if I may be so bold as to quote myself quoting Benjamin Riddell quoting John Muir:  “My peace I give unto you.”

 


From A Sudden Light

page 145

“[My father] was desceneded from a long line of loggers and timbermen…When I imagined ‘loggers and timbermen,’ I thought of plaid flannel shirts and bushy beards. But that wasn’t the Riddell family at all. It turns out I was descended from a long line of businessmen and deal makers and profiteers. Not a flannel shirt among them, except for Ben.”


 More about 19th century timber barons

  • William E. Boeing home, The Highlands, Shoreline, 1914 Courtesy UW Special Collections (Image No. SEA2655)King County Landmarks: William E. Boeing House

    In 1909, Boeing purchased several lots in The Highlands, a gated residential community located on a wooded bluff overlooking Puget Sound. His expansive Mediterranean Revival residence was completed in 1914.

  • The Carson MansionThe Carson Mansion – Redwood Riches in Northern California

    William Carson came to Humboldt County to discover gold. He found his fortune in Redwood!

  • Henry Yesler's first sawmill, Seattle.Steam-powered Seattle Sawmill Cuts its First Lumber in 1853

    In late March 1853, a steam-powered sawmill built by pioneer Henry L. Yesler is fired up for the first time, fed by logs taken from the heavily wooded areas surrounding the then-tiny settlement of Seattle.

  • 1900's picture showing stacked logs at a Michigan sawmill.The Great 19th-Century Timber Heist Revisited

    After exhausting much of the virgin timber supply in the Great Lakes region, the Riddell timber empire was forced to move west in search of more uncut forest. This essay examines the question of whether the timber barons of the late 19th century over-exploited the resource.

  • The Highlands

    I grew up in Innis Arden, a community just north of the Seattle city limit. It is also just north of the exclusive gated community known as The Highlands, on which I based the fictionalized setting of A Sudden Light

  • Grey Towers Gifford Pinchot EstateGrey Towers Pinchot Estate

    Rising above the small town of Milford in northeastern Pennsylvania is Grey Towers, a national historic site operated by the U.S. Forest Service. It is the family home of Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service and a two-term governor of the Keystone State.

Timber Baron Estates

  • William E. Boeing home, The Highlands, Shoreline, 1914 Courtesy UW Special Collections (Image No. SEA2655)King County Landmarks: William E. Boeing House

    In 1909, Boeing purchased several lots in The Highlands, a gated residential community located on a wooded bluff overlooking Puget Sound. His expansive Mediterranean Revival residence was completed in 1914.

  • The Carson MansionThe Carson Mansion – Redwood Riches in Northern California

    William Carson came to Humboldt County to discover gold. He found his fortune in Redwood!

  • The Highlands

    I grew up in Innis Arden, a community just north of the Seattle city limit. It is also just north of the exclusive gated community known as The Highlands, on which I based the fictionalized setting of A Sudden Light

  • Grey Towers Gifford Pinchot EstateGrey Towers Pinchot Estate

    Rising above the small town of Milford in northeastern Pennsylvania is Grey Towers, a national historic site operated by the U.S. Forest Service. It is the family home of Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service and a two-term governor of the Keystone State.

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