Building America - Lumber Heritage Region

Building America

–Center of attention–

The lumber industry in central Pennsylvania played a significant role in the building of America during the 19th century.

The decline of the lumber industry in New England in the 1820s and 30s led directly to the expansion of industrial lumbering in central Pennsylvania. East Coast investors saw opportunity in central Pennsylvania’s virgin forests to supply the growing need for lumber products in cities on the east coast. The industry attracted new immigrants to the region.

Water‐based logging supported by logging camps, log slides, splash dams, log drives, log booms and sawmills was the dominant system for supplying the burgeoning logging industry. Lumber operations were professionalized by the influx of skilled laborers and industrial production methods. A dual economy developed during the mid‐19th century that consisted of the lucrative lumber industry and byproducts, such as tanneries, and localized farming that supported timbering. Trains eventually replaced water‐borne transportation of logs to mill and market.

Next: Boom & Bust