The towboat Ida reached New Orleans, out of the Arkansas River, on June 8, with a walnut log raft* of unusual proportions. Additional interest attaches itself to this raft on account of it being part of an order for 10,000,000 feet from a Bridgeport, Conn., sewing machine factory. The growing scarcity of this desirable wood in the Eastern States, and the demand by European furniture makers has developed distant sources of supply.
The raft in question had been ninety days making the trip from the forests along the White and St. Francis rivers, in Arkansas, and in that time drift, five feet deep, had accumulated beneath the logs. Of these the raft contained 2,500, 2,000 being walnut and 500 cypress. The latter are used as buoys for the heavier timber. This log island measured 400 by 208 feet, and many of the walnut logs were over six feet in diameter.
They were cut by a band of 200 Canadians who are adepts at working in hard timber, and can get out 500 logs per day under favorable circumstances. From New Orleans the logs go by rail to New England, this transportation being found to be just $2 per 1,000 less than by steamship. Col. S. M. Markel, of Missouri, has this contract, and has orders for walnut logs from Liverpool parties. The raft in question contained 600,000 feet, and is among the first shipments of the kind to the East.
*Note: There was no photograph included with this article. The above image is a substitute.
Scientific American – July 24, 1880
– Jeff Burks