TIMBER (Historic Information)
The Pacific Slope of the Coast Range from Dixon Entrance to Cooks Inlet is densly covered with timber.
The forest to a stranger appears much like the cedar, fir and hemlock of Washingeon. but it is not the same at all.
The trees grow shorter, the limbs nearer to the ground, the wood becomes softer and lighter, as we proceed northward from Puget Sound. By the time Dixon Entrance is reached no first-class timber for commercial purposes is found. The strength and weight of the timber on the coast of Alaska is about the same as eastern cotton wood or linn.
The Government has made no cruise, estimate, or even reconnoissance of Alaska timber, and I was unable to get any valuable information from it, consequently my statement is made on my test and enquiry at the mills along the Coast.
The early reports and the statements of most authors about the "inexhaustable timber supply," some going so far as to say it was superior to any in the world, are entirely untrue, and have been very misleading.
This fifteen hundred miles of coast forest in Alaska will produce no first-class lumber. The trees have grown up without sunshine, in the mist and fogs of the sea, and they are soft and porous as sponges. When the lumber is dry it will weight about one-half as much as the commercial dry lumber, and in time it may furnish material for boxes, crates, barrels and second or third rate building material for sheeting and the like.
There are saw mills at all the larger villages, and some at canneries and mines, but the output is for local use. All the good finishing lumber, bridge timber and the like, requiring clear, clean and strong wood, is shipped up from Puget Sound, and even many of the railroad ties, and some of the piling. The timber laws of Alaska are such that the timber cannot be obtained for outside trade. It wold be a very harmful condition if the timber was fit for outside markets.
Several foresters have been stationed along the Coast to protect the timber, and a large launch for their use will be completed by May 1, 1909, with which they can cruise about the islands and shore. Timber-testing machinery has been installed at the University of Washington, where teste will be made this or next year, without the often requested Government assistance.