1,700 Year Old Cypress Logs Found in the River—New Yankee Workshop films in Micanopy, FL

Goodwin Heart Pine Company, specialists in recovering original growth logs from Southern rivers has pulled a mammoth size cypress tree from a private creek in west Florida. The tree, approximately 1,700 years old and over 100 feet tall when it was cut down by ax a hundred years ago, is 53” in diameter and three times larger than most cypress logs Goodwin recovers. Goodwin pulled a 34-foot section from the river, likely the bottom portion of the tree.

Because the tree was submerged in cool water, the milled lumber will be in pristine condition. The sections will provide enough wood to side or panel an entire house and most likely will be used for historic restoration and preservation projects.

Cypress trees are among the most slowly growing and have been clear-cut, like its sister tree the redwood, to near extinction. IT is one of few remaining prehistoric species. A favorite wood of Frank Lloyd Wright’s, cypress was a difficult wood to cut by hand due to is size and swampy growing conditions. A century ago loggers would chop a ring around the tree or “girdle” the tree in winter or early spring so that moisture would be pulled out as the tree put on leaves. Months later in the wet season when it was easier to get a boat into the swamps, the lumber jacks would return to harvest the tree. This particular tree probably was still too heavy and sank even after being girdled.

“In the 22 years I have been recovering and milling antique logs, this tree is certainly among the largest,” said George Goodwin, owner and operator of Goodwin Heart Pine. “It is extremely rare to find a log of this size either recovered from a river or even growing near a river. Unfortunately, Southern original growth forests of heart pine and cypress were clear-but to extinction a hundred years ago and today even young cypress trees are being cut without the benefit of replanting.”

Since Goodwin began its mill in 1979, it has been the original source of true pre-settlement quality Heart Pine and Heart Cypress. The company rescues logs by hand from southern river bottoms where they have lain for more than a century beneath the cool murky waters. Like the treasured timber, a visit to the mill in rural north Florida is a step back in time. George Goodwin tracked down the most knowledgeable old-timers to teach him the lost art of rendering the quality of timber from these old logs that was last available to your great-grandparents. Goodwin takes pride in being different from other lumber mills. The company’s passion for the wood, its craft and its customers demands it!