Coupling tree-ring and timber species analysis to gain insights on forest harvesting and construction techniquesSy
The Mid-Ohio River Valley’s (USA) rich cultural fabric is preserved in the extant 19th century buildings that dot the landscape. Extensive tree-ring analysis 3has provided construction and modification dates for regional buildings (n > 200) such as barns, houses, mills, churches, and various outbuildings. In addition to determining construction dates, the goals of this long-term study include identifying the various timber types used in construction, determining potential bias and causes for bias in timber species selection, and determining the source of non-native timber found in regional structures. Ultimately, we hope to gain insights into how timber resources were used and potentially how landscapes changed over time. Timber species analysis reveals extensive use of tulip poplar, white oak, beech, and ash throughout the 19th century. Less commonly encountered species include red and white elms, walnut, hickory, black gum, and sweet gum. Timbers have yielded chronologies for the region reaching back to 1436. Unexpectedly, temporal analysis of species use shows no discernable regional patterns such as a decrease in preferred species use over time. Additionally, species selection shows little to no correlation with witness tree and old-growth forest community studies. White pine and hemlock timber in regional buildings have, with mixed success, been dendroprovenanced to northwestern Pennsylvania with importation occurring from the 1820s through the 1870s along the Ohio River. Mining chronologies and coupling them with timber species analysis and historic documents may provide valuable insights into the changes experienced in regional forests and construction techniques.