There is plenty of regret to go around about the wholescale waste of the immense virgin forests in pre-20th century America. These forests represented a cheap, high-quality building material to early Americans and a profitable export that only required rudimentary tools and a healthy portion of elbow grease to attain. Unfortunately, the citizens of 19th century America (a few of whom became very rich) did not exhibit the conscientiousness nor collective restraint to prevent from despoiling the vast majority of these invaluable and dignified forests. It simply did not occur to them (until Teddy Roosevelt spearheaded the conservation movement and hippies formed the environmental movement) that this timber resource is exhaustible, and once exhausted practically irreplaceable.
For example, during the early history of my home state of Michigan, it is said that a squirrel could traverse from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan without ever touching the ground. Yet it took an incredibly small amount of time (mostly 1870-1890) for men with hand-drawn felling saws to systematically evacuate every virgin tree on the entire peninsula.… Read the rest