Cypress grows in bogs, bayous, and river edges from North Carolina to Texas. It has special characteristics that make it uniquely desirable. Because it grows in wetlands, the harvested lumber is more weather resistant and insect resistant than other lumber. It is used for exterior and interior construction and finish work, and its beautiful colors make it a desirable furniture material.
The Sinker Cypress used in this Flying Bed started growing in America's southern forest before the arrival of settlers - before the birth of our country. The virgin forest grew uncut until settlers arrived and needed lumber for houses and other uses. As cities began to grow, more and more lumber was needed for buildings down river. The primeval forest disappeared - huge cypress trees, sometimes 10' or more in diameter, were cut down and floated down rivers to build the growing cities and ports of America.
Sinker Cypress is now recovered from rivers and bayous from Florida to Louisiana - wherever 19th century loggers cut old growth timber and used waterways to float the logs downriver to mills close to ports, where the lumber could be shipped and used to build growing settlements and cities. Because the down-river flotation was haphazard and often affected by storms and river currents, a lot of the cut logs were lost along the way - they simply sank, since cypress in particular was water heavy to start out.
These logs were left untouched until recently when the demand for lumber milled from them started to grow. In addition to the basic qualities of cypress, Sinker Cypress absorbed minerals from the river or bayou bottoms where they laid for over a hundred years. They developed unique colorization depending on the area they are recovered. Some can have greenish hues; others reds and purple. The old growth ring counts of these very old logs also make the lumber milled from them more desirable.
Recovery is regulated, costly and dangerous. Divers must dig into the river bottom to find and dislodge the long resting logs. Recovery is seasonal, depending on how much water is running in the river or stream where they rest. Accidents are frequent. A variety of equipment is used to dredge up the found logs and bring them to shore. Once they are recovered they must be stored under water until they are ready to be milled.
The logs used for this bed are from the Ouachita ("wah-SHA-tah" according to old-timers) River in north western Louisiana. It flows down from Arkansas and joins the Black River, and on to the Red River and into the Mississippi. Well before the Civil War, loggers upriver cut their lumber and tied it together - sinkers and floaters - to take downriver. The lumber used for this bed is from logs that were lost along the way. Outside of Monroe LA, an enterprising family has been reclaiming these logs slowly and carefully. You can see pictures of the actual recovered logs that were used for this bed, and the river they came from, at the Dogtrot Lumber website - click the link below:
Geoff & Grace Whitney