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Nineteenth Century Lumber Surveys for Bangor, Maine: Implications for Pre-European Settlement Forest Characteristics in Northern and Eastern Maine

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In the mid-19th century, Bangor, Maine, was a major center for the manufacturing and shipping of lumber, leading many to proclaim Bangor as the “lumber capital of the world.” The raw material for this lumber was transported down the Penobscot River, which drains the largest watershed in Maine. Starting in 1832, lumber put up for sale and shipped from Bangor was surveyed. Between 1832 and 1872, over 3.36 billion board feet (bbf) of white pine lumber was tallied. In the 19th century, there were numerous inefficiencies and losses involved in the harvesting, transporting, and processing that converted a standing pine tree to lumber ready to be loaded on a ship; therefore, the 3.36 bbf surveyed provides only a minimum estimate for the volume of white pine in the pre-European settlement forest of northern and eastern Maine. Even this minimum volume estimate for pine suggests a magnitude of this resource that is inconsistent with descriptions developed from early land survey information and suggests that current interpretations of the pre-European disturbance regime may need re-evaluation.

Keywords: environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; lumber records; natural disturbance regime; natural resource management; natural resources; pre-European settlement; white pine

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: Assistant Professor and Irving Chair for Forest Ecosystem Management Department of Forest Management University of Maine Orono ME 04469-5755, Email:

Publication date: July 1, 2005

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.476
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