First American Settlers

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 359
  • Published : March 7, 2008
Open Document
Text Preview
When settlers first came to the New World forests covered ____ per cent of the land. The forests all had a wide range of trees and bushes in them. The "primeval forest" or the first forest Europeans came into contact with had been changed by many acts of nature such as floods, hurricanes, and flood. Actions of Native Americans also had a hand in changing forests. Such forests included redwood forests, which were home to huge redwood trees, mossy forests, and swamp forests.

To many European settlers, these forests represented a wild and evil area. Many feared the forests and wilderness as the antithesis of civilization, community, and religion. One group in particular, the Puritans, viewed the forests not as an abundance of natural resources but as an impediment to settlement.

Once forests began to be viewed as beneficial, it opened up a whole new lifestyle. The forests and nature might have been an evil and scary place, but it was a place filled with resources and opportunity. Settlers began using trees and wood in a plethora of ways. Not only was it used for families own use, many began logging forests as a business; a very profitable business at that. Once wood started being used for beneficial purposes, a snowball effect occurred by the settlers to cut down every tree in sight and turn it into a profit.

Logging was the process of cutting down numerous amounts of trees to use wood in a capitalist way or to clear land for agricultural purposes. Two main techniques were used by the settlers to clear away these large forests. One technique was called girdling. Girdling is the process of cutting a strip of bark off of the circumference of the tree which eventually killed it. Another technique used for deforestation is the "cut and burn" method. This method was the process of cutting down many of the trees and burning the rest of the brush and plants to clear land.

Cutting down these massive amounts of forest proved to be a very difficult task. On average it took about 10-15 years for a family to clear 100 acres of land to make a comfortable living. Most of the logging was done in the winter months. Placing large amounts of logs on sleds and moving them on snow proved to be far easier then trying to move them in the rainy, muddy spring and summer months. Horses were used to haul such sleds but each horse had its limit. Another way in which to move logs was done by floating them down rivers. By shipping logs this way it allowed settlers to move lumber in any month. The only problem of this method was that logs were sometimes left in the middle of rivers turning into treacherous obstacles for tugboats. Quite often tugboats would be seen zigzagging across a river just to avoid hitting a log and sinking the ship.

There were many reasons logging became such a profitable business. Wood was used around the house and property in numerous ways in the 1600's, 1700's, and 1800's. Settlers began building log homes. These homes were relatively simple to build, only taking a few weeks, with the right equipment, to build and provided exceptional protection from the elements. If settlers had a tool for paining logs into boards then this allowed for a superior home, but most were just constructed from shaped logs. These homes were very basic in structure usually having only one large room, a few windows, and a door. Crude gaps between the logs had to be filled in with a mud and straw mixture to keep the houses as insulated as possible. Also, before metals and plastics were used, wood was used for cooking purposes, cups, dishes, pots, and even utensils. Leftover wood and stumps were burned and the remaining ashes were used to make potash. This material became very popular, profitable, and could be used in many different ways. Potash was the leftover ash after burning these wood pieces that could be made into lye and soaps.

Outside of the house were many other uses of wood. Barns were also...
tracking img