Cut fir tree, 4 1/2 feet square by 74 feet long, ca 1912
The condition of this week’s postcard is poor. There are spots, folds, and wear but the subject matter was interesting and amazing due to the size of the cut piece of timber and the identity of the photographers. The card is unused, numbered as 3025 and was published by the Lowman & Hanford Co. of Seattle. The photographers are identified at the top center as Nowell & Rognon. Frank Nowell, who was the official photographer of the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, and Orville Rognon were only partners for approximately 2 years (1911 to 1913) so it is possible to place the date of this picture as during that time period, perhaps ca 1912.
The size of the timber shown suggests that the diameter of the tree was probably about 10 feet and the tree was 4½ feet thick even at the height of 74 feet so it must have been much taller since it would have started tapering before it reached the pinnacle. Some of these old trees reached heights of 200 or 300 feet and were 1,000 years old or older.
Frank Nowell (1864-1950) was a well-known Seattle photographer and his credit appears on most of the pictures from the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition of 1909. Orville Rognon (1880-1958) was lesser known in Seattle but when he moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1913 he became known as the Yukon Photographer. Because of the type and quality of the photographs and the unique numbering system that Frank Nowell used it is likely that most of the pictures with the Nowell & Rognon label were actually taken by Nowell. Nowell was deemed the better photographer. Rognon used his own numbering system on his pictures.
The timber and logging industries together with sawmills were major businesses in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the century. Frederick Weyerhauser and his 15 partners purchased 900,000 acres of forested land from the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1900. This was the largest land purchase in the United States up to that time. With proper conservation methods it was hoped that the timber operation could continue forever. Weyerhauser suggested the name of the new company be “The Universal Timber Company” but his partners thought it should be named in his honor instead and overruled his suggestion.
Most of the old growth trees of the size to produce a cut piece as large as that shown on the card are now gone. New trees are planted but it takes years and years for trees to grow and second growth trees are not normally left standing long enough to achieve such a size.
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