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In 1895, naval stores were a booming industry
Bulloch History
roger allen
Roger Allen

Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at the origins and growth of the agriculture industry in Southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.


  The book “Memoirs of Georgia...Accounts of the State’s Civil, Military, Industrial, and Professional Interests, Vol. 1,” was published by the Southern Historical Association in 1895. The document revealed much about the naval stores industry.

“The yellow pine is durable, light, easily worked and easily cut and put upon the market, and is, withal, one of the most ornamental woods of the world. For the general purposes of house-building, the yellow pine has no peer.

“Before the pines were cut for lumber, they were generally “boxed” for turpentine. Of the 15 million acres of pine in Georgia, 1/3, or 5 million acres, had been boxed at the time of the publishing.

“There is about one turpentine still for every saw-mill. It has been learned that boxing a tree improves, rather than damages, the quality of lumber which is cut from the tree.

“For almost all purposes to which pine lumber is now applied, its value is enhanced by the turpentining of the trees. It is usual to abandon turpentining forests after three years.

“The cost of turpentining an acre was about $7 to $7.50 for the three years. The estimated average yield per acre is $11.42; or a profit of $4 to the acre for three years, or $1.33 a year.

“It will be seen, therefore, that a Georgia pine forest has a double crop. It yields, in turpentine and rosin, $3.81 a year for three years, and then earns approximately 3,000 feet of lumber per acre.

“The profit on ‘farming,’ or extracting spirits of turpentine from the trees, is $4 an acre, and the profit on marketing the lumber is about $12 an acre. These figures came from data furnished by mill men.

“This aspect of lumbering, the preparation and handling of naval stores, has been a very important factor in the prosperity of Savannah and Brunswick. Savannah 1s now first in the naval stores market of the world.

“The movement of naval stores at Darien, Brunswick and Savannah show the immense bulk of naval stores, the overall importance of this industry, and the rapidity of the industry’s development.”

At Darien, the first complete cargo was shipped in 1886, which was followed by two other cargoes the same year. The export rapidly grew after 1886, and amounted to more than $125,000 in 1894.

The securing of better railroad facilities resulted in the doubling of the receipts and shipment of naval stores from the port of Darien during 1895.

In 1892, the receipts at Savannah totaled 1,032,198 barrels of rosin and 277,617 casks of spirits of turpentine, making an aggregate of 1,309,815 packages.

That exceeded the combined receipts of all other primary ports by 100,000 casks of spirits and 600,000 barrels of rosin, or by 700,000 packages. The outlook for both the lumber and naval stores industries is very promising, the 1895 book concluded.

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at rwasr1953@gmail.com.

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