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Here’s a message from George Goodwin, lead logger at Goodwin Company-Heart cypress, from the Bald Cypress tree, is truly a primitive American wood. Bald Cypress trees can grow more than a thousand years old and tower to heights of more than a 100 feet. Once commonly found in virgin stands along rivers and tidewater swamplands of the southeastern coastal plain, the finest cypress grew where the land was submerged most of the year. Cypress logs estimated by scientists to be at least 100,000 years old were unearthed in excavations for the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Heart cypress was logged right along with the longleaf heart pine in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, though the forests were not clear-cut like the heart pine. Loggers cut around the circumference of the tree a year in advance of logging to allow the wood to lose part of its moisture so the logs would float. Because there was only about 2000 miles of railroad in the South by1850, loggers would hand cut the heart cypress trees and drag them by oxen or mule teams to the riverbanks. There they would lash the logs together and float the raft to downstream sawmills.

History of Heart Cypress

Today the silvery trunks and fernlike leaves of the Bald Cypress still grace southern riverbanks. Some are 100 years old or more left from the previous century’s logging.

Others still stand, dead but showing where they were marked and cut, but never brought down. Unfortunately, the wood from young cypress trees does not compare to the rich-toned heartwood of original-growth heart cypress.

Through centuries of adaptation, Bald Cypress has developed an inherent resistance to destructive forces, including water and insects, not found in other woods. A favorite building material of Frank Lloyd Wright, heart cypress is a natural building material for flooring, furniture, exterior walls and many other special projects.