The Story of Our Heart Pine Beams

Solid Wood Beams From An Ancient Forest

What is it that makes Albany Woodworks‘ old pine beams so unique?  Before our carefully hand-selected real wood beams arrive at your home, they have taken quite a journey.  Starting life over 500 years ago in the old growth forests of the deep south, these Longleaf Pine trees grew to hundreds of feet in height and would often take two experienced axmen half a day to fell. These giant trees were slow growing and had time on their side. This is why the heart wood of these ancient trees was dense and strong. 

virgin growth forest

(Pictured Left): Ancient pine forests like this one once blanketed southern Louisiana, untouched by the hand of man.

Standing in pirogues and alternating swings of the ax, these hardy lumbermen would traverse the swampy landscape of central and southern Louisiana looking for the largest virgin timber to harvest.  Once these giants were brought to earth, they were allowed to dry out and became buoyant enough to raft together down river to one of the lumber mills lining the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

At the lumber mill, these huge logs were transferred to a mill pond to await the first cut of the saw blade.  Mostly overlooked until the 1920, these vast expanses of forests were left to the local Acadian craftsmen whose expert hands worked this sturdy pine into beautiful cottages and furniture.  Due to it’s large percentage of heartwood, the strongest inner core or ‘skeleton’ of the tree, this old growth Heart Pine was a craftsman’s first choice for quality building materials. The craftsman often would hand hewn the tree into a beam for building.  That is why Antique Heart Pine is our first choice when it comes to crafting a beautiful solid pine wood floor.

historic cypress logging

(Pictured Right): Often working in teams of two, and sometimes more when the size of the tree called for it, axmen in southern Louisiana were ingenious in developing unorthodox methods in harvesting timber from the swamps, often standing on a small plank or floating in a pirogue while swinging an ax.

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Slow-aged and Well-seasoned Beam Stock

Once the huge pine forests of the south were discovered, there was a huge demand for this stable, durable timber.  With lengths nearing 20′ and the strength to rival steel, Louisiana Heart Pine was popping up all over the country. It was used for structural beams in industrial buildings and as Higgins Landing Boat keels for the war effort in the 1940’s.  Our lumber is from this same stock which is why it was selected by the US Coast Guard for replacing the keel beam in a Higgins craft on display in The National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

Reclaimed pine beam higgins boat WW2

(Above): Old growth Louisiana Longleaf pine was used in the war effort. Its strength rivaling steel was used to build keels for Higgins Landing Craft.  Albany Woodworks donated Antique Heart Pine beams to replace the keel beam on this Higgins Craft. It is on display at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, La.

After many years slow aging and curing into a well seasoned hearty stock, these timbers were nearly lost.  During city rejuvenation periods, many historic buildings are purchased and torn down to make room for modern buildings and skyscrapers.  Once the center of a bustling industry, these aging commercial buildings are now seen as blight on valuable real estate.

This is where Richard stepped in and began a process of giving new life to this antique lumber. This process is now at the center of today’s growing reclaimed lumber industry.  One of the first in the country to realize the amazing potential of this priceless resource of quality antique Heart Pine nearly four decades ago, Richard is now a sustainable building and reclaimed lumber expert.  He taps on this wealth of experience to provide customers with solid wood flooring and building materials that you just can’t find anywhere else.

Building With Beams For The Future

Richard’s choice to save these pieces of our country’s history has evolved into a mission for education and preservation.  With the quantities of Antique Heart Pine dwindling, Richard works even harder to find and identify buildings containing this special wood. The goal is to save it from being lost forever to the landfill.

old pine beams

(Pictured Left):  Each antique reclaimed pine beam is carefully hand-selected by Albany Woodworks. These beautiful beams will provide a lifetime of beauty and value to your home.

Our heart pine flooring cut from these reclaimed pine beams continue to be in high demand as inferior flooring with dangerous chemicals flood the market from overseas. This type of wood is what is most commonly found in box stores like Home Depot and Lowes.  Richard believes that providing quality reclaimed product at the best price encourages customers to use Eco-friendly materials. In the end helping us build a better and greener future.

exposed pine beams with cypress wall paneling dining room

(Pictured right): Once installed, antique products and reclaimed pine beams  will add a lifetime of beauty to your home.

Beautiful Antique Heart Pine from Albany Woodworks is a great choice for your family and the environment.  Antique products that share a real sense of  our country’s history, a piece of history you can bring home.  Visit their informative website for more information or plan a visit for a more hands-on experience.

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