No other wood in the densely packed virgin forests of North American was more prized than the white or "swamp" cedar. First used by Native Americans for cedar strip canoes, the valuable properties of white cedar were soon coveted by early colonists. Because this wood is easily worked, holds nails exceptionally well and is very resistant to splintering, checking or splitting, it was used for a variety of applications. But what really separated white cedar from the many other available species, and made it so valuable as a siding and roofing material was its tremendous decay resistance. For centuries, this wood proved itself a match for sun, rain and even blowing sand standing up well to the harsh elements of the rugged eastern seaboard.
The silver gray color of naturally weathered white cedar is often emulated as attempts are made to match the rugged look and color of colonists' sidings. Early structures including barns, houses and covered bridges were built just to function well. They had to be durable and the weathered silver gray color was just what the wood did. Now this silver gray color has become a beloved trademark of colonial New England.
Unfortunately, the wood that helped protect early Americans from the
harsh northeastern climate is virtually forgotten. Heavy logging
of white cedar combined with a senseless destruction of the wetlands has
decreased the availability of this material. And the original source
of our modern siding emulation is virtually completely forgotten.
So the next time you read an article about an early American home with
a beautiful, rugged silver gray exterior, remember the forgotten wood,
Wood, Steel & Glas, Inc.