Heartwood | Author's Notes


Lumber, Et Cetera

Contemporaneous to the ongoing story of lumbering in the northern tier, other industries, most timber-related, and some unique to the region, have risen and waned: leather tanning, wood chemicals, the milling of staves and lathe, charcoal manufacturing, paper milling--most conducted by enterprises as temporary as the peak generation of tree species they relied upon.

Carbon Products And Powdered Metals Come To Stay In Northern PA

One secondary industry with its roots in a number of the plateau’s resources has, however, prevailed despite changing landscapes, evolving and even thriving to this day: the carbon products/powdered metals industry, located predominantly in north central Pennsylvania. Much like the primeval forests and vast timbering operations that storied the region, carbon products/powdered metals are little know beyond their bounds. The region of counties surrounding St. Marys reigns as the powdered metal capital of the world, where thousands of people (some 18% of the population) work in related industries. Heartwood is the first novel that interprets the human experience of this distinctive history. A prominent character in the novel, the grotesque Ernie Groeger, traces the course of the industry from its roots in Europe, through Pittsburgh, to its chance arrival and eventual home in north central Pennsylvania.

Heartwood’s Marstadt builds loosely from the pioneer history and rich Bavarian heritage of the epicenter of the carbon products/powdered metals boom--St. Marys, a 19th century religious commune, one that actually succeeded and thrives as a diverse community today. Yet, its story had remained untold in popular literature.

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