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Northrop, E. B.; Chittenden, H. A., Jr. (ed.) / The Wisconsin lumberman, devoted to the lumbering interests of the northwest
(August, 1874)

A prospective view of the trade. The condition of the trade in the immediate future--overproduction--retrospective view--fair products for the fall trade,   pp. 494-497 PDF (1.5 MB)


Page 495


The Wiscoarmn Lubr man.49
which shattered everything not com-
posed of adamantinematerial. Lum-
ber speedily went to $10, and by the
following July, (1858) sold at the old
level, $7. The cause of its reaching
this low figure, was large overstocks,
light demand and great rivalry in the
business. One prominent Manistee
manufacturer, to set the ball rolling,
hoisted a placard upon Lake street
bridge offering lumber at $7, which,
of course, had the effect of settling
the entire market to that figure at
which it continued during that year.
In the spring of 1859, $8 was the
opening price. Trade and prices im-
proved steadily until the spring of
1861, when $10 was the ruling figure.
On the 16th of May, of that year, the
well remembered "stump tail" money
was thrown out by the banks, con-
demning $11,000,000 of the circulat-
ing medium of this state and Wiscon-
sin. The effect of this was fatally felt
in the lumber trade. Prices were
made upon a gold basis, $6, to $6.50
by cargo and $8 retail. From this
time trade "picked up" again, con-
tinuing to improve until the spring
of 1863, when every branch of busi-
ness began to feel the effect of war
times. Cargo lumber opened that
year at $14, at which price it sold
with only a variation of fifty cents or
one dollar the whole season, The
following spring it started at $18, and
advanced steadily until $25 was rea-
lized in some instances on fair mixed
cargoes. It was that season that the
retail price went to $30, and the lum-
berman's pocket was hined with gold.
In 1865, the range was between $16
and $20. In '67, the season again
opened with the price at $18, but it
soon fell to $14. From this time to
the event of the great fire of Octo-
ber, 1871, the trade was marked by
nothing particularly important, being
subject to slight fluctuations. Just
previous to the fire, the price ruled
about $13 to $13-50, immediately ad-
vancing to $16 and $17, as soon as
resumed after that great calamity.
During 1872, the price ranged be-
tween $11.50 and $13. It opened
the following spring, with the first
sales at $13, but speedily went to
$11, $10 and $9.50. Whenthe panic
,of last fall came on it settled to $8.50,
$8, and some sales were made still
lower:
During the flush times within the
period we have thus briefly epito-
mized, men became wealthy in man-
ufacturing or dealing in lumber. The
natural development of the country
was rapid. Money was plentiful and
easy to obtain. An exceedingly high-
pressure system was the one upon
which every branch of our business
was conducted. Every body became
infected, in a measure, by the mania
for speculation. Manufacturing in-
dustries multiplied rapidly. Saw
mills were built without regard to
number, or hardly, to cost. They
were to the smaller ones which had
formerly furnished the country's sup-
ply of lumber, as giants to pigmies.
Pine lands seemed to be only earthly
possessions worth having. In many
cases every available dollar from the
sale of the manufactured product,
was invested in more lands from
which future millions were to be cut.
Men with limited capital borrowed
all they could get and went for the
pine regions. The "grand march"
of progress and development thun-
dered along in the van of mighty
railway projects. The iron bands
were laid into the heart of the great
forests which had previously been
counted as totallv inaccessible. The
small men with borrowed capital, an-
ticipating the railroads, erected mills
and had them in running order by
the time the iron was laid over which
their productions could be transport-
ed to distant markets. The railwLy
men who only expected their roads
would possibly become paying enter-
prises with "the growth of the coun-
try," were astonished with the im-
mensity of the carrying trade thus
suddenly developed, for which their
limited transporting facilities were
wholly inadequate. The car shops
a
495


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