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RARE CYPRESS DEADHEAD SINKER LOGS (1800’S)
Back in the late 1800s, the Florida peninsula was covered with abundant stands of old growth longleaf pines and swamps boasted giant cypress trees, some thousands of years old. All that natural wealth attracted the attention of logging companies eager to turn timber into cash.
After the daunting accomplishment of felling the trees with axes, the loggers then had to transport the enormous logs to a saw mill. Before the railroad, the fastest way to move the hand-cut logs was by water.
The logs were cabled or chained together and floated downriver to the mill, Sometimes the logs weren’t dry enough to float and would start to sink, so the logger would cut it loose and sacrifice one or a few to save the rest. That’s how many logs were lost.
“Sinker” is simply a term for a log that sank to the bottom of a waterway during transport, or the bottom of a holding pond while it was waiting for processing. They’re also referred to as “deadheads.” These big logs sank a very long time ago (sometimes over 100 years ago!) and they remain there until they are “rediscovered.”
Underwater for up to a century, the bark and sapwood of the Sinker Log decomposes, but the inside is perfectly persevered. This interior wood is the “heartwood,” and is prized for its beauty and durability.
Cool river water, very little oxygen, and resin in the log, all combine to create a natural preservation process.
This is a non-renewable resource; when this wood is gone, it’s gone.