Hiawatha: Rift and Quartered White Oak

Tahquamenon_falls_upper

It isn’t just Hiawatha and the lumber from the Upper Peninsula (UP) that bears the lore, but the very river that Longfellow  recounts of  Hiawatha building his canoe “by the rushing Tahquamenaw River” from “unremembered ages”.

The river, though crystal clear upstream, gathers its color as it moves through marshes of hemlock, spruce, pine and various hardwoods where tannin from the tree bark leaches into the waters, so that by the time it reaches the Tahquamenaw Falls, it’s a frothy reddish brown which resembles root beer in both color and foam. It is this same percolating of  tannins from the soil that fuels the white oak system with a cocktail of tannins. (Fuming an Age Old Process Given New Life).

Our timber procurers are amplifying our Hiawatha White Oak flooring with the addition of rift and quarter sawn lumber. The pine plantations of the 1930’s have succeeded into the mixed deciduous and broadleaf forests of the region.

The Hiawatha oak is not  sold as FSC per sae, but the extensive plantings of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as part of Roosevelt’s “New Deal” became the understory for broadleaf forests. Roosevelt waxed  poetic when lobbying for its passage, declaring “the forests are the lungs of our land [which] purify our air and give fresh strength to our people,” sustainability at its finest.

 

ccc3smIn April 1933 the CCC program was extended to the American Indians and Camp Marquette was initiated  One worker allegedly remarked, “The white man stole our land in the first place, cut off the timber, and now they are making us plant it again.” Not so fast Mr. Native American, the “white man” were the French not the American settlers.  In any case, Michigan’s UP is a case study in forest succession and diversity. And as much as I would like to claim that our “new” American oak bears the look of “old” French oak is due to the wicking of soil soaked with French blood, I think that would be a  steep sales pitch.

 

 
 
The white oak trees are 100+ years old and are slower growing and are grown/harvested on a longer rotation. The larger  diameter  trees (minimum 27″) are prized for quarter sawing.  Most of the sap is removed prior to the rift/quarter production so that the percentage of fumy heartwood is higher than what can be yielded from smaller logs.  The medullary ray, whether highly pronounced or microscopically fine, literally jumps off the face of the plank when stained and finished.
 

 

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Hiawatha Brand Special Rift & Quarter Sawn Offering

Eng Rift Sawn Select White Oak 6″, EndMatched,
Long Lengths 2′ to 10′
 
Eng Rift Sawn Select White Oak 5″, End-Matched,
Long Lengths 2′ to 10′
 
Eng Quarter Sawn Select White Oak 6″, End-Matched,
Long Lengths 2′ to 10′
 
Eng Quarter Sawn Select White Oak 5″, End-Matched,
Long Lengths 2′ to 10′
 

 

Mixed Grain White Oak Character

 

 
Eng Mixed Grain Character White Oak 7″, End-Matched,

Long Lengths 2′ to 10’+

Eng Mixed Grain Character White Oak 6″, End-Matched,
Long Lengths 2′ to 10’+

 

 

 How did we turn timberland into a brand? By capturing the synergy between soil and flora. This is Nature’s business- to be sure- but it is the specificity of harvesting practices and the unique ecosystem found only in the Land of Hiawatha.
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