Jered, our reclaimed wood expert, has been on the train and in the car visiting Ohio on his most recent trip. He also had a live trip advisor/helper as one of his sons joined him on this adventure. By Day 3, Jered had promoted him from personal assistant to traveling tech support. Both enjoyed good eats and lots of reclaimed wood.
On a quick stop in to a national retail store in Cincinnati, they checked out reclaimed oak flooring that was installed over 5 years ago. This was a special batch of Foundry Oak that we reclaimed from the Drew Furniture Factory in North Carolina. Original patina and paint are celebrated in this floor. As Jered says, “It still looks awesome!”
In 1892, the American Encaustic Tiling Company (AETCO) built an expansive tile manufactory on the banks of the Muskingum River in Zanesville, Ohio. Red Pine was a significant component in its construction, as it was for many buildings during the Industrial Revolution. The structure stood for 124 years until it had outlived its usefulness and was demolished in 2015. Pioneer Millworks was able to acquire a load of Red Pine from the industrial salvage, totaling around 13,000 board feet.
When demolition of the Zanesville plant began, the original ‘American Encaustic Tile’ facades were unearthed, a reminder of one of the world’s pioneers in the tile industry. Originally founded in New York City in 1875, AETCO quickly grew and expanded operations to Zanesville. A massive producer of floor tiles, wall tiles, and accent tiles of all sizes, patterns, and colors, the Zanesville operation was considered the largest and most distinguished tile manufactory in the world at the turn of the 20th century, employing at least 1,000 people and cranking out unique ceramic tiles for homes and businesses across the nation.
The unique features of this reclaimed Red Pine are the original paint and wear marks as well as a striped appearance created from the ceiling joists running across the underside of the floor, which left a“shadow” when removed after a century in place. This Red Shadow Pine is celebrated for its unique character and history.
It is always a privilege to rescue antique wood from rot or landfills. Our reclaimed Red Shadow Pine from the AETCO plant has tones of red and yellow, with streaks of resin, numerous knots and holes, as well as minor surface cracks. The joist shadows on each plank create a striking pattern and a reminder of the wood’s former life. Some of the timbers were milled into paneling in our Farmington, New York shop for a major retailer’s project. The white paint was removed and the boards were finished with a matte Polyurethane.
About Red Pine:
During the later years of the industrial revolution, builders could not solely rely on the dwindling supply of Longleaf Yellow Pine from the Southern US. Other species of softwood timbers, such as White Pine, Red Pine, and coarse-grained species of Yellow Pine were also used based on geographic availability and lower cost. The Red Pine (Pinus Resinosa) is a native of the lake states and eastward throughout New England and southeastern Canada. It grows in a narrow zone around the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River and was widely used in heavy timber industrial structures within and around those regions.
Red Pine timber was nearly depleted during the logging heyday of the 1890’s.
Red Pine will normally reach a mature height of 75-100 feet.
The tree gets its name from its reddish-brown, scaly bark and red heartwood.
Red Pine has a distinct, resinous odor when being worked.
Red Pine is very resistant to disease and insects.
During the Depression in the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) planted millions of Red Pine plantations.
Most of the wooden telephone poles in Michigan and surrounding states are Red Pine.
Itasca State Park, Minnesota’s oldest state park, is the best place to see some of the oldest Red Pines as the park features about 5,000 acres of them.
When fire consumed a massive historic warehouse in Chicago’s Central Manufacturing District (CMD) in 2013, flaring up repeatedly for a week while the city endured freezing temperatures, it was considered a total loss, but a large amount of the structural timbers survived the fire and ice. After demolition we procured 19,000 BF of Southern longleaf pine (also known as Heart Pine*) that originally came from old growth pine forests harvested more than a century ago.
In the early 1900s mature longleaf pine reached over 100 feet tall and 3 feet wide.
Heart Pine played a significant role in the construction of the world’s first industrial park, the Central Manufacturing District (CMD), a 265 acre campus in south Chicago. Development of the privately planned park began in 1905 and eventually it housed several big name companies such as Spiegel, Goodyear, Starck Piano Co., the William Wrigley Co., and Westinghouse.
Among these memorable trademarks was the Pullman Couch Company, a five story warehouse designed by civil engineer and architect S. Scott Joy in 1911. You might remember the Davenport-bed? That was a Pullman product.
Pullman Couch Company remained at the CMD location through the 1950s and, while a few businesses came and went over the following four decades, the warehouse stood vacant for ten years until January of 2013 when it was annihilated by fire. It was reported to be the worst fire Chicago had seen in years, commanding over 200 firefighters to tame it. With temperatures around 10 degrees, the water spray from the fire hoses swathed everything in ice – vehicles, equipment, buildings, even the firefighters.
When demolition of the building’s scorched remains began, a frozen terra cotta insignia could be seen high up on the brick exterior of the building. It was that of the Pullman Couch Company, one of the last identifiers of the 102-year-old structure that was once the powerhouse of Chicago’s industrial campus.
The timbers obtained from demolition of the Pullman Couch Company warehouse were branded with ‘Bogualusa.’ Bogalusa, Louisiana was the site of the world’s largest sawmill, run by The Great Southern Lumber Company from 1908 until 1938. The company employed more than 1,700 men at the mill plus another 1,000 men in logging camps to keep a continuous supply of logs coming in. They only harvested longleaf pine, initially processing lumber at the rate of 1,000,000 board feet per day. After 30 years the virgin longleaf pine forests in southeastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi were depleted and the mill ceased operation.
The historic heart pine we acquired from the former Pullman Couch Company has been used in several projects as flooring and paneling. At the time of this writing, we are wrapping up another order of our character select heart pine, this one with a walnut finish. And so the old longleaf pine timbers live on, long after the fire and ice.
Historic range of longleaf pine covered 90 million acres of southeastern coastal plains.
*According to the USDA Forest Service, longleaf pine once covered about 90 million acres of the southeastern coastal plains of the United States. Because of its quality and strength, longleaf pine lumber was a principal resource for early settlers in building ships and railroads, though it was used for just about everything from industrial buildings to furniture. It takes 30 years for longleaf pine to grow an inch and about 200 years to become mostly heartwood. Heartwood hardness comes from its resin and longleaf pine has more resin than any other species of pine. Because of its high percentage of heartwood, longleaf pine came to be called heart pine.
Cut-over longleaf pine area in Louisiana, 1930
Most of the longleaf pines were gone by the 1920s, harvested to near extinction. Today, only 3% of the original longleaf landscape remains. Restoring these forests has now become a priority in conservation efforts, particularly because there are over 30 endangered and threatened species that rely on longleaf pine for habitat. And while we can rehabilitate longleaf pine ecosystems, we will not ever have the kind of centuries-old longleaf heart pine that now exists primarily in the structural timber of industrial America.
Douglas fir timbers reclaimed from Centennial Mills.
We’re salvaging 400,000 board feet of timbers and planks during the selective deconstruction of Centennial Mills in Portland, Oregon. Deconstruction of five warehouses and several old grain elevators, deemed beyond repair and unsafe, began in September 2015 and is expected to be complete by June 2016. To date, seven tractor-trailer loads of Douglas fir timbers and cribbing planks have been transported to our McMinnville, Oregon yard.
“Ideally, we’ll be working to get as much of the reclaimed material back into the Portland market as possible,” said Jonathan our president and founder. We’ll have samples on hand in our design studio in Portland, OR.
Dismantling one of the grain elevators at the mill.
“Some of the wood can be re-used as heavy timber and beams, while some will be re-milled for use as paneling or flooring,” continued Jonathan. (You can read more on the history of the mill on our Unearth the Story page.)
Centennial Mills, Portland OR
The Centennial Mills site is owned by the Portland Development Commission (PDC) and lies within Portland’s River District urban renewal area. “Working with Pioneer Millworks enabled us to streamline the salvage process, ensure the repurposing of as much material as possible, and return funds to the project budget,” said PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton. “We view this as a very successful partnership and look forward to hearing about how and where Centennial Mills materials live on throughout the Northwest.”
Originally we hoped to salvage about 800,000 board feet of timber from the Centennial Mills site. However, due to rot and the difficult cost benefits of saving all the smaller pieces, that number has been reduced. We continue to work towards salvaging more of the wood, but politics make things sticky. The salvaged wood is of an exceptional grain quality and we’re excited to share it with our customers.
First stages of removal of a grain elevator at Centennial Mills.
After passing an emergency declaration in December 2014 relating to the condition of Centennial Mills, the PDC enlisted Tigard, OR-based Northwest Demolition & Dismantling for the selective demolition and salvage of the property. Demolition of Warehouses A, B, C, D, and F as well as Elevators A, B, and C began the first week of October 2015 and is scheduled to conclude in June 2016. The subsequent phase is slated to begin in July 2016.
If you’re interested in helping keep some of this historic wood in Portland, or if you have a great project that will give it new life, let us know. We’d be happy to provide samples.