Friday, May 10, 2013

Early Logging in West Virginia

I found this neat web site that had a lot of information about the early start of timber industry in West Virginia.  The pictures that accompany the site are just as interesting to look at as reading the page.  Like the one below, many of the pictures show the complete devistation that went on during the process of harvesting timber here in West Virginia.

Click here to find out more information about the early days in the timber industry and see for yourself.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sutton, WV -- Timber Industries in WV

On our follow up trip we went to Sutton, WV.  We drove up the evening before our tours and had a WONDERFUL dinner at a Bed and Breakfast called Cafe Cimino.

Rise and shine . . . the next morning we were off to the Weyerhauser Sutton OSB plant for our first tour of the day. 

The plant was started in 1996 and now employs 135.  At its peak, the plant employed 170 local people (in 2006).  It is the only OSB Weyerhauser plant in WV.  They pull logs from as many local timber companies but can pull as far as North Carolina. The plant runs most all kinds of wood but tries to do no more than 10% pine.

In the log yard, they could have a storage of logs of 110,00 tons that can last 6weeks.  They have a crane that unloads the logs in bites onto log decks (there are two).  On the chain conveyers, the logs are debarked with chains that hang and sort of "beat" the bark off .  The conveyor then carries the logs into what are called "Thaw tunnels".  The logs are in the tunnel for 30 minutes at 150 degrees.  The bark from the debarking is used to generate the heat for the thaw tunnel.

The logs are then cut into strands by a strander that is 84" in diameter and has 46 knives with a 22 second cycle.  The stranders are rebuilt in house which helps save money.  Once the logs have been cut into strands, they are screened two ways:  rotating and shaking.  Once sorted the strands will be used according to their sizes and grouped as either core strands or surface strands.

The strands are then put in a blender and an infrared sensor is used to determine moisture is used to get the right amount of resin added to each batch.

The strands are oriented and then put into forms.  They use 4 large forms (12 X 24 feet) which, after pressing, can yield 108 4X8 panels..... in 4 to 6 minutes.

A typical 7 day production week the plant can produce 90 trucks and 48 rail cars a day.  But since the plant is only working a 4 day work week right now, they are producing about 60 trucks and 24 rail cars a day.

There is a lot of recycling in the plant and as a matter of fact, it was desigend from the beginning to be a zero discharge facility.

The plant ships to the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indianna and Maryland.

July 20 C&O Museum, Clifton Forge, VA

We left on this rainy morning to make our final water quality testing in the Greenbrier. After all the results we have gathered, our group came to the conclusion that the water quality of the Greenbrier was "Medium". Not a bad rating for a river that runs through some industrial areas as it snakes through southern WV.

Then we made our way to our last stop.... the C&O museum. What an awesome place to visit and a wonderful way to culminate all we've learned. From the various tools and procedures that started on steam engines and ended on deisels, it was neat to see the improvements to them over the years. Comparing the steam engines on site (The Greenbrier Express) to the steam engines at Cass and Durbin was quite interesting.

Why would there be such a difference between the two steam engines?

What were each of the engines built to do?

Another interesting thing I found out about was the Depots that C&O used and the fact that they had "standard" plans for them.  Depending on the community, the type of depot that was built usually had separate waiting rooms for ladies to help keep them "safe".  Most depots were wooden but larger communities had brick ones that were built.

We had lunch in the restored dining car which was such a neat experience.... to sit and imagine what it would have been like for people to ride and dine in "those days". 

Looking at the pictures of railroad in times past and seeing what they are like today was a good way to end our trip.  Seeing how important railroading was to West Virginia before major roadways were built, was important in preparing lessons for my classroom. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Timber and Rail Lessons

As part of our study of the timber and rail course, we have come up with lessons to use in our classroom.  There are so many aspects of science that I can use the information learned this summer but I have come up with three activities that I believe will correlate well with my curriculum.  From having the students to search for items in their house that are products of the timber/wood or wood by-products industry, to finding how Newton's laws  explain how a locomotive can carry a load up and down a hill.  I hope that the lessons we share on our main blog page will help you to find something useful in your classroom!

Friday, July 20, 2012

July 19, 2012 - The Durbin Rocket

Today we drove to Gaudineer Knob to look at the second strand of virgin forest.  This forest is only in existance because of a surveyors error.  It is also home to the Cheat Mountain Salamander.  What kind of wildlife and biodiversity would you expect to see in a virgin forest near the top of a mountain?  Take a look at some of the pictures below and see if you can identify different species of trees.

 "The Durbin Rocket"--

We finished up the day riding on another restored logging steam train.  This was different from Cass in the fact that there were no steep grades for the engine to pull and push the cars.  We followed along the Greenbrier river and were able to see some of the foundations of a lumber company that used to sit on the banks of the river. 

Another difference on this train was the fact that you did not have to stay on one car, you could travel between an open car, an old dining car, a passenger car and a caboose.  It was neat to be able to experience the ride in a variety of ways. 

On our trip back, we had to stop and fill up the tank from the local creek.  Using the same process that the Shay engine used to "siphon" the water into the tank.

I found it just as interesting as Cass but in different ways.

Filling up in the creek . . .

Thursday, July 19, 2012

July 18, 2012 - Cass Scenic Railroad

Today we went to Cass to ride the train that is using one of three types of geared locomotives that were designed specifically for better traction on the rails.  An all wheel drive train . . . did you know there was such a thing?  If you look on the page above about steam geared locomotives you'll get to see pictures of each one and a brief description of them. 

Cass uses both Shay and Heisler engines on their rails.  Shay engine 11 is the one that pulled us today.

She was designed to prevent the train wheels from slipping on the track.  All the wheels were attached to gears that helped all the wheels from slipping.  The Shay 11 had three trucks and three large pistons on the side.  You can see them in the picture above on the left side of the engine and a close up shot of the gears below.

The drive shaft on the Shay was located on the side of the train.  As you can see in the picture below, it runs the length of the engine.

Moving on to the timber part of Cass, it was once a timber company that made paper.  Most of the hills surrounding Cass had been cut and used to make the paper.  At the first stop on the ride we were able to get off the train to look at some of the models of camp life.  Below is a picture of a typical camp shantie that the lumberjacks would stay in while cutting timber on the mountain.

The skidder that was used to pull logs up the hill was also on display. 

As we were making out way to the top of Bald Knob, you could see the change in eleveation through the changes in the types of trees in the forest.  Can you see in the picture below where the line of tree species begins to change. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 17, 2012 - Colonial Millworks and Armstrong/Bruce Hardwood flooring plant and Historic Beverly

The millworks company we visited today was much larger than the one we saw yesterday.  They made mainly casings, mouldings and trim. The company had been in business since 1958.  As lumber comes in, it is graded to determine that the shipment they ordered is correct.  The lumber is then sorted and restacked according to the type and amount needed to fulfill orders.

Once the boards have been sorted they are sent into the plant to be cut at appropriate widths.  Lasers are used to show the workers where the cuts on the board will be made as they send it through the saw to be cut into appropriate width with less waste.

Once the board has been cut, the strips are sorted according to size and sent out to the different parts of the plant to be cut, sanded and stained.

This plant, as well as the others we've visited, also did some recycling.  Any scrap wood they had were sent out to the shredder to be made into saw dust which is used to sell to other companies like Hamer Pellet fuels.