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Re: What our forests looked like...

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Quote:

pcray1231 wrote:
Not sure about SE PA, but I'd always heard pretty much the opposite in northern areas. Hemlock, in particular, were MUCH more common than they are today, and pine in general comprised a pretty high % of the total tree cover. Pines are not very productive in regards to wildlife, and compared to today, there was not nearly the density of game animals that we have today.

When they logged it all, hardwoods came back in much greater abundance.


That is pretty much what I was told as well regarding the majority of PA.

Posted on: 1/6 22:15


Re: What our forests looked like...

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I don't believe SE PA had as much pine and hemlock back then. The soil is different and even on the ridges it's not like that of the central Pa ridges. My sense is that most of the wood used in old houses and barns in this area (SE Pa) are hardwoods. It would be interesting to find out what/if there was a predominate wood used in the historic Philly structures of the era. Might tell us more about the most available types of trees and thus something about the original forests.

Posted on: 1/7 8:24


Re: What our forests looked like...

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PA has around 133-134 native tree species, that is tree species which were here when Europeans arrived. Lots of biodiversity.

The distribution of those trees is a very large and complicated topic. It varied greatly between regions. And also at different types of sites within regions.

You can't expect that a limestone valley, at low elevation in SE PA, would support the same vegetation as on infertile soils on the top of Mount Davis, or in frequently flooded riparian areas along the edge of the West Branch Susquehanna in Clinton County.

Different conditions support different vegetation.

Posted on: 1/7 9:47

Edited by troutbert on 2014/1/7 10:02:51


Re: What our forests looked like...

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Well, I know that. All I was saying is that everything I've heard is that Pines made up a greater % of the land area than it does today.

It's relatively easy to see why. Even today, you see stands of pine. And once a patch forms, NOTHING else grows within as they completely shade the understory. There's zero undergrowth underneath. No ferns, small trees, etc. In lowland areas rhodo will grow underneath, but that's about it. And that patch of pines very slowly grows in diameter, taking over more and more forest. You can kind of think of it like a successional forest. The hardwoods grow first. And you see some small lonely pines growing underneath. But once pines get a foothold on an area they hold it. At least where they are capable of growing, obiously there will be areas where Pines don't grow well.

It stands to reason that given infinite time, these patches would take over a large land areas. It takes an "event" to return previous pine area to hardwoods. Tornadoes, fires, etc. Things like that. Or due to man, massive logging operations, which is what happened in the late 1800's/early 1900's.

The stories of the old frontiersmen hunters and trappers in PA describe mixed, but primarily pine forests in PA. And a relatively low density of wildlife. This would have, of course, been most areas of the state EXCEPT the SE, which was already settled and extensively farmed by then. To get any first hand accounts there you're probably going back to early new world settlement days.

Posted on: 1/7 10:05


Re: What our forests looked like...
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Quote:

franklin wrote:
I don't believe SE PA had as much pine and hemlock back then. The soil is different and even on the ridges it's not like that of the central Pa ridges. My sense is that most of the wood used in old houses and barns in this area (SE Pa) are hardwoods. It would be interesting to find out what/if there was a predominate wood used in the historic Philly structures of the era. Might tell us more about the most available types of trees and thus something about the original forests.



American chestnut was a very common hardwood tree that grew in the east and in PA. Chestnut was used to build houses and furniture back in the day. It was wiped out by a blight introduced from asian chestnut trees more than 50 years ago. American chestnut is a virtually extinct species now.

Posted on: 1/7 10:07


Re: What our forests looked like...

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http://wpsu.org/ondemand/streams/Pennsylvania12172.html

At @ the 4 minute mark ........When the settlers first arrived, the southern part of PA was primarily Oak, Yellow Poplar and Hickory ........ Chestnut was frequent throughout the entire state.

Was different in the northern part.

Really interesting to listen to.

Posted on: 1/7 17:29


Re: What our forests looked like...

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Quote:

afishinado wrote:
Quote:

franklin wrote:
I don't believe SE PA had as much pine and hemlock back then. The soil is different and even on the ridges it's not like that of the central Pa ridges. My sense is that most of the wood used in old houses and barns in this area (SE Pa) are hardwoods. It would be interesting to find out what/if there was a predominate wood used in the historic Philly structures of the era. Might tell us more about the most available types of trees and thus something about the original forests.



American chestnut was a very common hardwood tree that grew in the east and in PA. Chestnut was used to build houses and furniture back in the day. It was wiped out by a blight introduced from asian chestnut trees more than 50 years ago. American chestnut is a virtually extinct species now.


On my mother's side of the family was a farm that they built a large barn in the mid 1800s. This was in Union County. I always assumed the beams were oak. I wonder if they are chestnut?
I can remember a few chestnut trees still left when I was a youngster. My grandparents had a tree which produced nuts which I liked. The tree died in the late 50s.

Posted on: 1/9 13:21


Re: What our forests looked like...

Joined:
2009/12/2 19:56
From SE Pa
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Quote:
http://wpsu.org/ondemand/streams/Pennsylvania12172.html

At @ the 4 minute mark ........When the settlers first arrived, the southern part of PA was primarily Oak, Yellow Poplar and Hickory ........ Chestnut was frequent throughout the entire state.

Was different in the northern part.

Really interesting to listen to.

...... and says the longest log flume known in PA was in Clearfield County @ 6 miles long! The information about the timber "rafts" going down the flooded creeks and Susquehanna is awesome.

Certainly wasn't good for the fishery.

Posted on: 1/9 17:25


Re: What our forests looked like...

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You'll still find American Chestnuts that produce.

Posted on: 1/9 20:57
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Re: What our forests looked like...

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American Chestnut trees are pretty common in the southern block of Sproul State Forest. Most are pretty small trees. They grow for awhile, then the blight hits them. I have seen some of these that had a few chestnuts.

The chestnut trees people have at their farms are typically Chinese chestnuts. They are blight resistant and can produce a lot of chestnuts.

Posted on: 1/9 22:59


Re: What our forests looked like...

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Often, they are STUMPS of big trees with small trees growing out of them.

Posted on: 1/10 10:26


Re: What our forests looked like...

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Quote:

troutbert wrote:
American Chestnut trees are pretty common in the southern block of Sproul State Forest. Most are pretty small trees. They grow for awhile, then the blight hits them. I have seen some of these that had a few chestnuts.

The chestnut trees people have at their farms are typically Chinese chestnuts. They are blight resistant and can produce a lot of chestnuts.


The ones I had were American Chestnut. (Other grandparents than those that had the farm.) Don't think I have eaten chestnuts in 50 years. Do the Chinese chestnuts taste the same as the American?

Posted on: 1/10 20:30


Re: What our forests looked like...

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franklin wrote:
Quote:

troutbert wrote:
American Chestnut trees are pretty common in the southern block of Sproul State Forest. Most are pretty small trees. They grow for awhile, then the blight hits them. I have seen some of these that had a few chestnuts.

The chestnut trees people have at their farms are typically Chinese chestnuts. They are blight resistant and can produce a lot of chestnuts.


The ones I had were American Chestnut. (Other grandparents than those that had the farm.) Don't think I have eaten chestnuts in 50 years. Do the Chinese chestnuts taste the same as the American?


I have eaten lots of Chinese chestnuts, because we had trees when I was a kid, and I ate some this fall, from some trees growing in a SGL property, but I've never eaten American chestnuts.

Here's an interesting statement from the Wikipedia entry on American Chestnuts.

"C. dentata was once one of the most common trees in the Northeastern US. In Pennsylvania alone, it is estimated to have comprised 25-30% of all hardwoods."


Posted on: 1/10 21:05


Re: What our forests looked like...

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My job has required me to spend many hours locating boundary lines on wooded properties. Occasionally I have to work off of a very old hand written deed some of which date back to the mid 1800's. it was not uncommon for corners to be described as a large Chestnut tree. On occasion over the past few decades I have actually located the shell of that old Chestnut tree with even a few of them still standing.

Also, it is common to find the staggered piles of stones along boundary lines where old "snake" fences were located. Chestnut wood was often used for the rails in these fences and sometimes remnants of the old rails can still be found. I really find it interesting to be able to actually find some of these old reminders of days gone by.

Posted on: 1/11 7:23


Re: What our forests looked like...

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2006/12/13 9:28
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Quote:

franklin wrote:

On my mother's side of the family was a farm that they built a large barn in the mid 1800s. This was in Union County. I always assumed the beams were oak. I wonder if they are chestnut?
I can remember a few chestnut trees still left when I was a youngster. My grandparents had a tree which produced nuts which I liked. The tree died in the late 50s.


Could be. My barn was originally built in the 1800s and was expanded in 1922 by building a larger barn over top of it and incorporating the old. You cans see the differences from the inside. I never gave it much thought, but awhile back I had an Amish guy visiting and he was admiring my barn so I showed him around. One of the first things he noticed was the framing appeared to be chestnut. I looked close and sure enough, it looked like chestnut to me as well.

I could probable tear down that barn, sell the framing, and use the money to build a new barn and still have cash left over, but it aint happening as long as I own it.

I picked up an old Chestnut drop leaf table last year at an estate auction. Probably circa 1890. The auctioneer said it was oak. I bought it because it looked very nice and I couldn't pass it up at $100. There was a dealer there also buying furniture and he told me it was chestnut and estimated circa 1890. I think I paid about $100, give or take. My parents house which was built in the 19teens has a lot of chestnut in it as well.

As was pointed out, there are still some chestnut around, but mostly just chutes coming up from the roots of old stumps. They usually die off before fruiting, but once in awhile they do fruit before dying.

I had them in my back yard when I lived outside of Oil City. They would get to about 20 or 30 feet tall and then die before fruiting. The stump was still very visible.

When I was in my teens, I worked in Cook Forest, and back then I could show you standing dead ones in several places. They had been dead for over 50 years, but the massive trunk would still be standing.

However, not many people realize that there are actually some mature American Chestnut still standing (live). Most of them are outside of the original range and were planted there before the blight. But there are also still a few inside their original range as well. And they do appear to be making a comeback of sorts as well. In addition to Sproul, hundreds have been found in the ANF up to 60 feet tall.

There is also a group that is trying to "breed" blight resistant versions.

Posted on: 2/4 9:09
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