This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Mr. N. C. Meeker writing from the White River Indian Agency, has the following interesting note on the Pinion or Pinus edulis. It may be noted that the White River flows westward from the Rocky Mountains, and is one of the sources of the great Colorado River. It lies on the 40th Parallel of Latitude, and formed part of Fremont's route to the Pacific in 1845, and through whom we were first made acquainted with this valuable pine:
"I don't suppose any of you know what Pinion is. It is a species of pine or cedar, growing in the mountain gulches, and for fire-wood it has no equal in the world, unless it be the ' tallow tree' of Asia. Once at Canyon City, our committee reached the hotel in the morning, well chilled through, and the landlord hustled around and built a fire of a few little dry sticks. I remember I seized some other sticks in the corner and put them on the fire, for I wanted to get warm; but presently the landlord saw it and took off the wood, saying I did not know what I was about, for that wood was Pinion. True enough; we soon had so hot a fire we had to move back.
"There is plenty of Pinion here, and the nuts are delicious,-equal to hazel nuts, but smaller; still, there is none near the agency, and I think none of the people ever knew anything about it, as being good fire wood. Last fall, I was with a team up the canyon, along a fine road we had built beside the cliffs, and I saw at the mouth of a gulch, a great many pieces of old looking and dried up logs, which I had hauled down, and then we had fires, for it was Pinion.
"A great many of these pieces were two and three feet long, broken square off; others were longer, and there were a good many pieces a foot long, and three to four inches thick, and as heavy as if they had been water-soaked for a thousand years, while all of them had a terrible old, battered look. I judge that when a tree decayed far up the mountains, several hundred years ago, it got moved a little, perhaps by falling rocks, then was thrown into a gulch by some great fall of water, and then the whole was dashed along with rocks, through canyons and over precipices, and finally debouched into the little valley below.
"This wood is easily chopped, and it is as easily split, and I prefer to take as knotty and crooked a log as there is, and smash away at it with an axe, and though the wood is dense, I can break it up into fragments three, four, six and eight inches across, and the waste is a trifle. A saw does not work well, for it pinches; besides a sharp bucksaw does not long remain so. My practice is to have a bushel basket full of such fragments brought into my room, and there it stands on the old hearth, and when the coal fire gets down, I put in a piece as big as my hand, and it burns right away. I fill the stove full of coal just before I go to bed, and so there is a fire all night, and water seldom freezes, and as my bed is close to the stove, and as I have a blanket over my head, I do not feel the terrible wind that blows out of the canyon from sunset to sunrise, though it whistles through the crevices of the logs as if it would like to cut one in two.
"Just before daylight, I get up, shake the grate, open the dampers, fill the lower part of the stove with pinion chunks, place a kettle of water on top, then fill up with coal, and hop back to bed, and, sir, before I touch my pillow, that pinion has blazed up, and in less than a minute the stove is in a flutter, the flames rush like the escape of the steam from a railroad locomotive, and in the space of ten minutes the stove is red hot, the room glows with a summer heat, remaining so for a full hour, and we rise and dress at our leisure.
"Down at the open gulches of Powell Valley, plenty of Pinion is found. I remember I brought home in the wagon a couple of sticks, three feet long and four inches in diameter, lying [among sage brush, and they had been there so long that probably a hundred rattlesnakes had crawled over them, say from the twelfth to the nineteenth century; and getting home late of a frosty evening, I put these sticks on a low fire, good enough for a woman to sit and knit by, and in ten minntes we had a fire that Shadrach, Me-shech and Abednego would stop to look at twice. This is all I know about Pinion".