This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
"Creek," writes, and we fully agree, " In your explanation of the reason why reports on the duration of timber vary so, you overlook the fact that good healthy trees will make more durable timber than such as are sickly from age or disease. There is great cry about preserving our old forests, but much more wisdom would be shown in the encouragement of new plantations. Timber from old trees is not near so durable as that from trees about middle age".
Questions of the durability of timber require care in answering. Almost any timber will last forever, " almost," if kept perfectly dry, or always wet. In all countries are old buildings with all sorts of woods, that have kept their timbers fresh for a thousand years. It is the transition from moist to dry, which encourages fungoid growth that destroys timber. When, therefore, one man tells us that he had a post of some tree which was just as good for - years as the day it was put in, and another finds it rotten in half the time, we see how both statements may be perfectly true. There are some timbers that will resist these alternations of circumstances better than others, and this is what most people are after.
The Scientific American says: "A correspondent sends a transverse section of Osage orange wood cut from a stick which, to his certain knowledge, had been lying for twelve years partly covered with earth in an old meadow. The heart wood is in perfect preservation. This timber, he says, is a rapid grower, and seems to be nearly imperishable in the ground; and he suggests that it would pay rail-road companies to cultivate it for ties. Osage timber large enough for narrow gauge roads would grow, he thinks,in from twelve to fifteen years from planting. Whether it would hold spikes well does not appear".
[But this does not tell us how long the same timber would last as railroad ties. It makes a great difference whether a piece of wood is wholly or partially covered. Cedar is dug up in New Jersey, and has been dug up in Illinois, that has been buried before the historic period, and found to be just as sound as if but recently living. So, near London, recently, oak logs have been dug up that were used for corduroy roads by the Romans near two thousand years ago, perfectly sound. It is the heat of Summer and the subsequent moist period that worries the ties, and we want to know how they will act under these circumstances. - Ed. G. M].