Savannah River Recovery Heart Pine

One of our most beautiful historic relics of Savannah history would have to be our river recovered heart pine. We've been lucky enough to accumulate quite a lot of this rare wood, and have been fortunate to have rejuvenated and recycled it into flooring of new homes. Like this one, for example:

The wood itself, after years sunk in the riverbed, has achieved a singular durability and coloration, and, having been submerged for so long, remains nearly untouched by decay of time. It's the arboreal mercantile cousin of Browne's buried urnes. But how they came to us, and how we laid them as floor itself has history. 

Their Origin and Salvage

The wood itself was originally used for Savannah's colonial wharf system, begun around 1791, which served as the point of access and departure for the colonists' supply and trade. Due to the steep bluff  upon which the city rested, and the presence of tides, an efficient and tall wharf was necessary. The wharf was so efficiently built, and the wood so strong, that, aside from maintenance, it was not fully replaced until 20th century by steel and concrete. 

The wood is mostly old growth longleaf pine, older than even the colonists, or tidewater cypress, some of which over a millennium old. The trunks of these trees were cut and shaved, points were shaped into the ends, and were pile driven some 15 feet into the silt and mud riverbed, into an oxygenless depth. 

By 2008, the wharf itself was only a cracked skeleton of its former living bulk. Though the parts extruding at low tide here seem weatherbeaten and gnarled, the buried length had preserved itself from time by a sort of mummification. Due to the absence of oxygen, rot was held at bay, and the logs petrified. To extract these deeply stuck pilings, now cemented into the riverbed by suction through ages, a barge equipped with a vibratory pile extractor, which essentially shook them loose and pulled them free. They were then hauled out, trascined out of the tide range, and stacked. 

Notice the beauty and tightness of the annular rings, as well as the thorough coloration, dyed from the river. 

The pilings were then loaded onto our tailer and hauled off to a mill with a saw capable of handling their immensity and solid heart. 

Until they looked this clean and uniform. Even cleaned up the river's coloration is still quite visible. 

Installations and Use

Once we arrived at our shop with these more manageable boards, we set to fashioning them into intricate tongue and groove flooring, or other pieces:

The result is a historic wood finish, with more character than even our reclaimed wood, due to the coloration and strength. One may literally walk along some of the oldest wood in the country, even older than the colony itself. 

Other than our typical uses, this wood has found itself used as lighting, or in art shows, the original points being excellent sculptural elements. For example, a point featured in our friend Marv Graff's recent exhibition

 Photo courtesy of  Marv Graff . 

Photo courtesy of Marv Graff

And Jason Middlebrook's "Submerged" (2014):

 Photo courtesy of  Whitewall Magazine . 

Photo courtesy of Whitewall Magazine

We still have quite a few logs and points of this rare wood left, and would love to provide it for furniture or flooring. If you're interested, please contact us

 

 

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