Heartwood | Author's Notes
Water Transportation Era Of Allegheny Logging
Williamsport: Lumber Capital Of The World
By 1870, north central Pennsylvania led the American lumber industry, enabling the state as a whole to rank as the greatest producer in the nation. The new-era Williamsport operators conducted massive drives of individual logs from headwaters all the way to market, the beginning of the end of the rafting era. It was a period of violent confrontation; rafters could not negotiate all the river congestion, and confrontations gave rise to log-robbing river pirates.
Williamsport became known as the lumber capital of the world. It’s 29 mills, strategically located on the banks of the Susquehanna, were almost entirely supplied by logs floated downriver from tributary streams to the north and west, the region in which Heartwood is set. The logs caught in front of the mills in a log boom, operated by the Susquehanna Boom Company. The boom stretched seven miles, with a capacity of more than 250 million board feet of lumber.The piers to which strings of chained logs were affixed are visible today when they rise from the river during periods of low water, and river miners still dredge the bottom for logs that had been jammed into the mud, logs still marketable 130 years later.