Touching history is something we do everyday at Goodwin Company. From the axe hewn ends of a thousand year old bald cypress tree to the double cat face on a five hundred year old longleaf pine, it is never lost on us that our hands weren’t the first to handle these precious treasures; the once towering giants of the primeval southern forests.
It was a great pleasure over the weekend to find a written, first hand account of longleaf pine logging from colonial times. In his Travels, William Bartram, the great 18th century naturalist from Philadelphia, describes with much detail the scene at one of those early colonial mills along the Savannah River separating South Carolina and Georgia. During the 1770’s, after having completed a similar trip with his father, Bartram journeyed through the southern colonies and Florida collecting plant specimens. In the following passage, Bartram had just crossed the Three Sister’s Ferry into Georgia and came across a gentleman of the “friendly kine” who invites him to see his milling operation.
“…come along with me towards the river bank, where I have some men at work squaring Pine and Cypress timber for the West India market.
The log or timber landing is a capacious open area, the lofty pines having been felled and cleared away for a considerable distance round about, near an almost perpendicular bluff or steep bank of the river, rising up immediately from the water to the height of sixty or seventy feet. The logs being dragged by timber wheels to this yard, and landed as near the brink of this high bank as possible with safety, and laid by the side of each other, are rolled off, and precipitated down the bank into the river, where being formed into rafts, they are conducted…down the Savanna, about fifty miles below this place.”
At Goodwin, we’ve sawn and milled plenty of logs retrieved from the Savannah River. So, the question is this: is it possible that we may have touched and milled the logs that Bartram saw set afloat that day at Three Sisters Ferry? Might the floor milled from those same logs be in your home? Hard to say, but nothing is impossible.
So, as you can see, the appeal of Goodwin floors extends far beyond their exceptional quality and beauty. The rich history behind the wood makes each floor quite a unique conversation piece!
Did you know that over in nearby Palatka, Florida, a group of citizens led by Sam Carr has formed the Bartram Trail in Putnam County Committee. Their mission is to promote eco-tourism in Putnam County and the City of Palatka. Bartram frequented Palatka on the St. John’s River and used the river landing as a base from which he explored interior Florida. His time spent in Palatka is detailed vividly in the Travels. The committee plans to build trail kiosks and design a website to help document Bartram’s journey. If you would like to learn more, or assist with this effort, call 386-937-3901 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.