History of Logging in the United States

Photo Credit: Superior National Forest

Industrial logging has been a staple of America's roots, dating all the way back to the arrival of the settlers and the founding of Jamestown in 1607. Since then, it has been an important part of our nation's economic structure. While the lumber industry was mainly for building ships in those times, it soon became a source of profit with imports and exports as the New England region became the central hub. Through the 1600s and 1700s, New England was logging and shipping incredible amounts of lumber back to England, but with the crown requesting all the best lumber, leaving lesser quality for the colonies, it only stoked the fire for the Revolution.

As the Industrial Revolution continued soldiering on, the majority of the country was being fueled on wood before the civil war, depleting the forestry resources of the northeast, and nearly wiping the entire midwest dry. In the late 1800s, the timber industry focused on the southern United States, as the south began producing an incredible 37 percent of the nation's timber industry by 1919. As both the midwest and the south began depleting rapidly however, the logging industry looked to the northwest and the Columbia Basin for a new source of timber.

By 1910, Idaho was already producing an incredible 745 million board feet and was distributing on a national level. One of the biggest moves in the logging industry came with acts by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the early 1930s as he attempted to put some restrain on the competition of logging in an attempt to help salvage what seemed to be a dwindling line of work with the National Industrial Recovery Act.

Photo Credit: Superior National Forest

As the industry continued to move into the Oregon and Washington areas, the timber industry grew from a timber harvest of 5 percent a year to 50 percent between 1945 and 1970. This made the northwest the largest timber producing area in the country, a title that it still holds today. By 1970, 41 percent of the nation's timber industry came from Washington and Oregon, making them the prime locations for logging.

Today, the logging trade is one riddled with controversy and many pros and cons to all of us. A prominent and established community still exists in the logging industry today however, with the United States still being the leading producer of lumber. While growing markets in other countries have cut into our reign over the timber industry, it is still a successful product.