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tine, since early colonial days, but the industry is now on the wane. The crest of production has passed and the end of the industry as a major activity of the South is definitely in sight. The industry as we have known it, is doomed for the simple reason that the old stand of longleaf and slash pine from which the raw product is obtained is about to be exhausted and no adequate second crop has come to take its place in continuing the supply. Such second growth as is present bids fair to be removed from consideration at an early date through the use of methods not adapted to realizing its full value.
The once green forest of longleaf pine that covered the coastal plain from Virginia to Texas is now sadly depleted. The best figures available show that of the original longleaf pine forest which covered one hundred to one hundred and thirty million acres, only fifteen million acres are still uncut and this remainder is being cut over at the rate of two million acres per annum; a decade will see its practical finish. Second growth timber is being cut also as fast as it reaches merchantable size. Wood turpentine can be produced from stumps and tops and this form of production, undoubtedly, has a future of promise, but the gum turpentine and rosin industry must have green timber to work on, and the passing of the longleaf pine forest automatically chokes it off at the source.
The output of naval stores fluctuates from season to season but has been gradually falling since the peak year of 1909. The number of turpentine farms is decreasing. Each year an increasing number of turpentine operators must give up turpentining and go into something else, because no timber can be found on which to place cups. Operators have followed the longleaf south-ward to the Everglades of Florida and westward to the plains of Texas and, being thrown back by these outward limits of the species, are now combing over afresh their hunting grounds of long ago, picking up scattered pieces passed by before as too insignificant or too poor to work and supplementing them with crops of cups placed on saplings that have grown up since the first operation. In the last five years operators, particularly in Georgia and since 1920 in the Carolinas, have been depending upon second growth, frequently immature, for a large part of their output. Unfortunately because of the method of working followed, they are rapidly destroying the main hope for the future.
While the distribution and financing of naval stores has been a stabilized part of the industry for a great many years as is shown by the history of this city, the operations in the woods have been of a transient nature, always on the move, ever in the backwoods. The thought and practice have been to get the maximum amount of gum out of the trees in the minimum of time and move on to pastures green. There was ever, until the last few years, plenty more timber just beyond the horizon, westward or southward, ready to be worked and nobody worried much about the future. Trees were seldom worked more than four or five years and stills were seldom operated in one location for more than ten years, many for less. The longleaf pine belt from Virginia to Texas is spotted with thousands of old turpentine camps, of which nothing exists now save a few bricks where the old still kettle stood. While there may be some, I do not know of a town that has grown up from a turpentine still and has been maintained permanently as such by woods operation for naval stores. I know of no permanent system of roads nor of any permanent schools or churches that have been built and maintained by or for a population depending upon turpentine operations.
The typical turpentine camp is of flimsy, temporary construction set away off in the wilderness. Such a place usually fails to satisfy the natural cravings of the average American citizen for what he considers the common necessities of life. Partly due to the isolation and the comparative hardships of the life, the woods end of our industry is frequently embarrassed by the labor situation. The only class of common labor attracted is difficult to hold; the annual labor turn-over in the average camp is enormous. Recruiting his force often takes as much of a manager's time as any phase of the operation. The supply of labor is fluctuating and often insufficient, and by the same token, wages, the biggest item in the cost of naval stores, may vary tremendously from year to year.
Now let us take a look at the French Industry. I shall not attempt to describe here the French methods in detail nor burden you with statistics of yields, costs, etc. I simply want to give you a bird's eye view of the industry as a whole. As you know, French naval stores are produced almost exclusively in the Landes Region of France from an area of less than two million
acres. The Landes was originally an enormous swamp in the rainy season and an arid, sandy desert the balance of the year. It was reclaimed, drained and planted to maritime pine, starting about one hundred and twenty-five years ago. The project was carried on in the face of many obstacles and the reclamation of this land and its afforestation stand today as one of the greatest and most successful efforts on the part of man to radically change the face of nature.
The maritime pine is not as good a producer of gum, nor is it nearly so valuable for saw timber as our longleaf and slash pines. If you can imagine such a thing, it looks like a cross between a loblolly and a spruce pine. Is is a fast grower and a prolific seed bearer. The French originally planted this trees in the Landes, though by far the greater bulk of the present forest is the result of natural reproduction, the forests originally planted having been worked out and cut for saw timber and their place taken by a second crop. The pine reaches saw timber size at around seventy years from seed, when it is cut, yielding from seven to ten thousand feet per acre of saw timber and a considerable amount of ties, poles, cordwood, and charcoal in addition. This alone is a mighty good crop for a soil originally as poor as beach sand, but the raising of saw timber is really a side issue with the French timber owner in the Landes. His main crop is turpentine and rosin.
The French developed their method of gum extraction and the system of management of their turpentine orchards on the basis of timber production rather than timber mining. Their methods are the result of over a century of experience in which there has been ever present the grim necessity of replacing old crops with new on the same ground, for they have never had any reason to believe that their stock of turpentine timber was inexhaustible. One hundred years ago they were where the naval stores industry of the South now finds itself, only in a very much harder case.
Now after a hundred years or more of existence what are the conditions existing in the French industry? Let me, as briefly as I may, paint a word picture of the Landes as I saw it in 1917 and 1918. It is a gently rolling sandy plain roughly triangular in shape, containing slighlty less than two million acres, in the southwest of France near the coast, covered from
boundary to boundary with an unbroken forest of maritime pine in all stages of development from seedling to saw timber, every acre of which has either been planted or is the result of seed from planted trees. North and south through the heart of this area runs one of the main trunk line railroads of France from which, every ten or twelve miles, feeder rail lines branch out to the east and west penetrating to the outer boundaries of the region. As extensive as this system of railroad transportaion is, it is supplemented by an even greater mileage of roads, of which the greater part is hard surfaced. I doubt if there is a body of timber in the whole region that is more than three miles from a railroad or a paved highway.
Every few miles along these railways and roads one comes on a little village set in a narrow fringe of fields and grass land and surrounded by woods. The heart of each village is a turpentine still and a wood using plant of some kind. The villages are of brick and stone with red tile roofs. Large churches, schools and public buildings adorn their plazas and business is brisk indeed on their well paved "main streets." These villages correspond directly with our turpentine camps but with what a difference! Every now and then the traveller comes to a small city of from twenty to thirty thousand inhabitants, of which there are several in the Landes. These are the centers of marketing, distribution and government for the adjacent territory; and the bustle and stir of business reminds one more of some wide-awake western city than of what we would naturally expect in old and settled France. The Landes supports a permanent population of 1,400,000, half as many people as the whole state of Georgia, although Georgia contains nearly nineteen times the area; and these folk are considered among the most prosperous and contented in the whole of France. It is no exaggeration to say that every man, woman, and child of this population derives his daily bread directly or indirectly from the maritime pine forests that surround him, and it is a mighty good living I assure you.
Since the forests are permanent, the turpentine plants are permanent. The structures are of steel, brick and concrete and embody the latest thought in the processes of manufacture. The continual use, over and over of the same land for growing timber crops and extracting gum and timber products requires and justifies an extensive and permanent system of roads; the continuous production of turpentine, rosin, lumber, mine props, and cordwood maintains standard guage railroads, and the never failing opportunity for labor year around and in fixed location attracts a steady localized supply which many years ago became the permanent population of the country. The output of naval stores from the Landes has been steady and uniform for many years. It was, of course, somewhat upset during the war, but seems to have fully recovered since. The two million acres of the Landes, no larger than four or five average Georgia counties, produces one-fourth as much naval stores as does the whole South. The future of the industry and of the region is assured and the outlook is all the brighter because of the gradual weakening of America's dominance in the world's naval stores markets that must take place as we near the exhaustion of our source of supply.
Now what is the secret of the success of the French industry? Does the answer lie in the soil or the climate, or the species, or in intensive European conditions generally? It does not. Their climate is not as good as ours; our season is longer as a rule and a good deal warmer. Their soil is very much inferior to even that of our poorer sand hills and they have none in the Landes that compares with our better clay soils. The maritime pine is inferior to longleaf and slash pine in every respect. It does not produce as much gum; its lumber is poor indeed compared with that from our pines; it is not as hardy against fire, insects, and disease; and on our better soils both slash and longleaf pine should grow as rapidly, and under proper care, more rapidly than the maritime pine. Is it the method of extracting the gum, or the way the gum is converted into turpentine and rosin, or is it the happy combination of these two features and the high yield and value of the additional forest products such as lumber, mine props, poles, etc.? These all bear an important part but the prime factor in the French success is their acceptance of the principle that timber growing comes first, that there must be an uninterrupted succession of forest crops, and that each operating unit must be built up on a continuous yield of gum as well as lumber and wood by grouping about it a suitable acreage of each stage of forest, from seedlings to full grown trees. All the rest of their sys