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Northwest Florida had millions of acres of old growth bald cypress, and in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s those cypress trees were harvested for their extremely durable and versatile lumber. At the time, the most efficient method of transporting these logs was to float them down river.
During the trips on the river, some logs would become waterlogged, sink to the bottom, and be lost for a hundred years, becoming a part of history (visit our Sinker Cypress page to learn more).
Chad Crawford, the host of How To Do Florida, wanted a mantle for his home, and he wanted it to be made from one of these pieces of Florida history. So of course he contacted us to help show his viewers how these beautiful logs are reclaimed and turned into works of art.
Chad decided to find out for himself what it takes to retrieve a deadhead log from the waters of the Choctawhatchee River and mill it. What he discovered is that there’s a lot more involved in the process than he had imagined – including danger!
HOW TO DO DEADHEAD LOGGING
We set up a meeting with Chad so we could talk about what was in store for him. Diving for deadhead logs is a dangerous business and we wanted to make sure Chad was prepared.
We explained that Chad would be diving with alligators and snakes, and that the current in the Choctawhatchee River is swift. It can carry a man far down river in a matter of minutes.
The next day Chad met our divers, who would be responsible for his safety. Our guys have been doing this for a lot of years, and they know the waters here very well.
THE DANGER BELOW THE SURFACE
What they couldn’t prepare Chad for was the darkness of the water just below the surface.
Combined with the swift current, the muddy water creates a very disorienting environment and Chad experienced that firsthand.
Because the conditions in the deep water were a little extreme for Chad, the crew moved to a shallower area to continue the hunt for the log that would become his mantel. The shallower water doesn’t provide as many logs, but it was a safer place for Chad to work.
BRINGING UP THE TREASURE AT LAST!
It had been a long and difficult day, and morale was low, but just before they were going to have to call it a day, Chad and the divers were able to locate a deadhead cypress that would be the perfect log!
As they winched it to the surface, it was obvious that Chad was quite excited about his new treasure.
After it was secured, they made their way back to the Bruner Lumber mill to begin the process of cutting the log and creating Chad’s new mantel.
On the way to the mill Chad got distracted by our mountain of sawdust, and decided to take a few minutes to play!
It’s just outside our mill and is produced by the cutting we do every day.
With a board in hand, Chad made his way to the top of the sawdust hill and surfed his way down a few times!
REVEALING THE SURPRISE INSIDE
After the fun, Chad and our crew got to work. Before cutting the log Chad asked if there would be something beautiful inside. Our mill manager told him, “It’s like Christmas. You never know what you’re going to get until you unwrap it.”
Chad was obviously excited when we poured water on the fresh cut to reveal the beautiful grain.
Chad had worked hard and endured some frightening moments to find his treasure, and as we told him, “A lot of hard work went into it not just today, but a lot of hard work went into it a hundred years ago.”
BRINGING THE PRIZE HOME
A few weeks later Chad’s contractor called to let him know his new mantel had been installed in his home.
He and his wife were thrilled to have a beautiful piece of Florida history right there in their own home, and we were thrilled to have been a part of it.
It made us proud to be able to share our work, and the rich history of Florida logging, with Chad and his family and crew.
We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know us a little better, and we want you to get in touch with us if we can help you with any questions you may have about acquiring some of this beautiful Florida history for yourself.
ENJOY THE SHOW!
If you’d like to watch the full episode, “How To Do Florida – Deadhead Logging,” you can do so by clicking on the link or the image to the right.
Enjoy the show!
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