Heart Pine History
Belmont, North Carolina
Heart pine is the finest lumber ever grown. Early American settlers discovered a vast forest of over 95 million acres spanning from the Southern Atlantic shoreline to the Mississippi River. In this forest, trees grew to four feet in diameter and up to 150 feet tall. These slow-growth heartwood pine trees matured in 400 to 500 years.
Longleaf Pine has been referred to as “heart pine” because of a unique characteristic - - a large center of heartwood with very little surrounding sapwood. This heartwood portion is dense, heavy, insect- and rot-resistant, incredibly hard, and unequaled in beauty, strength and durability.
American colonists used heartwood pine lumber for every type of building purpose. Its strength made it suitable for industrial buildings, bridges, wharves, and railroad ties, while its beauty inspired furniture builders and cabinet makers. The keel of the USS Constitution is made from a single heartwood pine timber.
This desirable lumber was almost timbered to extinction by 1900. The vast virgin forest had vanished, leaving only small isolated stands. Civilization had moved in and original conditions necessary for the trees to re-seed and flourish no longer existed. The magnificent forest was gone forever.
Fortunately, this unique wood still exists in the structural timbers of America’s historic industrial factories and textile mills much like those reclaimed from the historic Chronicle Mill.