Usually when we talk about reclaimed lumber the first thought that comes to mind is used material - an accurate assumption. Pallets, spools, deconstructed barns and broken down furniture. Material that has been machined, nailed, walked on, and weathered. For River Drive Lumber it has an entirely different meaning. Sourced from rivers and waterways in the seemingly untouched outback of the northeast, River Drive salvages virgin logs that have been preserved in the mud of riverbeds for decades. With sustainability as a key goal of operation, their belief is that for every river log harvested, one less tree needs to be cut down.
Maine began is trek into lumber history in the early 1600's when pioneering lumberjacks began eyeing the immense virgin timberland and marking trees for harvest. Upon arrival, these lumberjacks soon found that not only were the forests immense, but they were densely populated. As the scale of deforestation increased, more and more companies found their way to Maine eventually landing the state the proverbial title of "Lumber Capital of the World" in the early 1900's. Making use of waterways and wood's inherit ability to float, loggers began a revolution of transporting raw materials called log driving. A dangerous job; teams of men would help navigate thousands of logs down the river to the local saw or pulp mill for processing.
Where does River Drive Lumber enter the picture? On occasion (and for mostly unknown reasons) logs would sink to the bottom of the river and settle in the mud, quickly forgotten by those who were hired to bring them to the mill. Upon settling, these logs would find themselves safe from bug or termite infestation, sealed from rotting or decomposing due to the incredibly cold temperature of the water, and generally protected from UV rays and oxygenation. This process protects the logs for years, in some cases decades. River Drive navigates these waterways and searches for these old-growth trees to bring them up from their cryogenic state and use them to manufacture beautiful flooring, cladding, and lumber. Here are a few shots of some wood they bring up to the surface:
While river logs were the original reclamation effort of River Drive Lumber, another incredibly popular material was being salvaged, cleaned, and machined into flooring, wall paneling, and furniture - whiskey barrels.
In the United States, barrels for aging whiskey or bourbon may only be used once. Special cask-aged whiskeys are aged in used barrels, but again can only be used once. After use, most companies either burn the used barrels or - as in the case of River Drive Lumber - sell the barrels to companies for secondary use. The barrels, almost always made of White Oak due to it's natural ability to hold liquids, are disassembled, cleaned, heat-treated, and machined into flooring and wall cladding. Black & Tannin, Cooperage Select, Vintage Reserve, Distillery Reserve, and Blended are the five styles that River Drive Lumber offers their customers. They also offer Cask Cobbles, small cobblestone-sized boards that are used for wall cladding.
Check out River Drive Lumber for more information here: riverdrivelumber.com. See a few pictures of some of their work below:
Gallery Photos Source: River Drive Lumber