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The Sunken Forest Of New Jersey

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Deimisville, tour miles south of Woodbine, the latter on the West Jersey Railway, is a sprawiing, dingy, township of 3,000 inhabitants, with its central group of houses on a causeway between two great swamps. The wet lands around are eovered partly by solidgrowths of white cedar, partly by thicka water weeds. and partly by itumps and fallen logs of immense, jize. The3e only the gurface indicationa of the wealth belo v. The swamps, covering ten square miles, are underlaid with sunken foreste, vhich grew hundreds, tnd pcrhaps íhousand;-, oí ugo. These sef ming worse than barren wastes, for which the sharpeat of Yankee farmers would doem lifty cents an acre a swiudling price; have ik v d viorth by the ere their hundreds ui dollars. They have turned their own desolatiou iuto a hiveof industry, built up a lively village, and au sgi tímate asit i unique, to the wealtk oí' the country. buge trees whictf lie under the gwamp to unknown depths are of the white cedar variety, in evergreen, kuown scientiücally as to the Cupressns Thyoides. They grev years agoin the fresh water, whioti is necessary for their sustenunce, and when, in time, oither by a gubsidence of the land, or a risein the seas, the salt water reaehud them, they died in sreat numbers. But many of theru, ere they died, feil over as living trees, and wei e covered slowly by the deposits of muck and peat which flll the swamp. These trees that feil over by the roots are known as windfalls to distinguish them from the breakdowns. The trees which oroke off are the ones most sought f or commercial uses, and they are found and worked as follows: The log-digger enters the swamp witli a sliarpened iron rod. He probes in the soft soil until he stvikea a tree, probably two or throe feetbelow the surf ace. in a few minutes he flnds the length of the trunk, how much still remains firm wood, and at what place the flrst knots, which will stop the straight split necessary for shingles, begin. Still using hia prod like the divining-rod of a magician he manages to secure a chip, and by the smeil knows whether the tree is a windfall or breakdown. Then he inserta in the mud a saw, like that used by ice cutters, and saws through the roots anl rnuch until the log is reached. The top and roots thussawn off, a ditch dug over the tree the trunk Loosened, and sooii the great stick, sometimes flve or six feet tliick, rises and floats on the water, which quickly filis the diteh almost to the surface. The log is next sawn into lengths two feet long, which are split by hand and worked into shingles, as well as into staves used for pails and tubs. The wood has a coarse grain, and splits straight as an arrow. The shingles made from it last ïrom sixty toseventy years, are eageny sougnt; ror Dy duiiciers in Southern Ñew Jersey, aad command in the rnarket a miich higer price than the ordinary shingles made of pine or chestnut. In color the wood of the white cedar is a delicate pink, and it has a strong flavor, resembling that of the red cedar used in making lead pencils. The tree once fairly buried undr the swamp never become waterlosgcd, as is shown by their floating in theöitches as soon as they are pried up, and, what is more singular, as soon as they rise they turn invariably underside uppermost. These two f acts are mysteries which scienee has thus far leftso. The men who dig the logs up and split them earn their money. The work is hard, exacting, requiring lusty manual labor, akill and experience. Üwing to the f act that the swamps are soft and treacherous, no machinery can be used, and long stretcbes of mud and water mu&t ue covered with bougbs and bark before the shingles can reacn the village and civilization. Thenumber of the trees whieh is below the surface of üe ten square müea of swamp is almost cüuntless. In many places the prole will be sunk many times before it f'ails to strike a log. As the workmen only dig for those near the surface, and none but the best trees are selected, it is certain that only a small fraetion of the logs have been exhumed since 1812, when the industry flrst sprung up. The sunken forests lie in all shapes. Sometimes the trees are found parallel, as though a wind blowing from one quarter had felled them, but usually they lie pointing in every direction, and when, as occasionally happens, the wet soil sinks and dries, the mighty trunks are seen piled upon each other as in a Maine log jam. What are seen, too, are but the uppermost strata of piles upon piles unseen below. - Northwestern Zumbertnan.


Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat