The enormous turpentine industry of the United States had its origin in the large pine forests of North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. Up to the middle of the last century the products of this industry were tar and pitch which were used principally in ship building and as naval supplies and hence were termed "naval stores".7) The distillation of turpentine oil
1) Journ. de Chim. et de Phys. 2 (1794), 178. - CrelPs Chem. Annalen 1795. II. 195, 310 and 430.
2) Trommsdorffs Journ. der Pharm. 11, II. (1803), 132.
3) Pinenemonochlorhydrate C10H17Cl.
4) Gehlen's Allgem. Journ. fur die Chemie 6 (1819), 462-469.
5) Annal. de Chim. et Phys. II. 52 (1833), 400. - Liebig's Annalen 9 (1834), 56.
6) Journ. de Pharm. II. 4 (1818), 5.
7) The oldest mention concerning tar and pitch, and the preparation of turpentine in Virginia is to be found in vol. 1 of the "Calendar of State Papers. Colonial Series" for the year 1574 to 1660 in the Public Record seems to have begun as late as the middle of the eighteenth century in North Carolina and Virginia. Professor Kalm, the Swedish traveler, who is known as a careful observer, and who explored the Atlantic provinces of the then British colonies from Quebec to Virginia during the years 1749 and 1750, reports concerning the preparation of tar and pitch only.1) Later travelers and reports first make mention of the preparation of turpentine, turpentine oil and colophony in Carolina. Among these are Dr. Johann David Schoepf, who traversed the Atlantic States from Canada to Florida2) in 1783 and 1784; also Francois Andre Michaux, who about twenty years after the longer stay of his father, the well known botanist Andre Michaux, traveled in North America at the beginning of the nineteenth century.8)
Up to the year 1820 the consumption of turpentine, turpentine oil and colophony was restricted to the limited demands of the home industries. The exportation of oil and rosin to England was unimportant. Up to 1830 the manufacture of turpentine was restricted to the coast: between the Tar river in the north, and Cape Fair river in the south; while the ports New Bern, Wilmington and Washington in North Carolina served as collective points. The distillation of turpentine was conducted in cast iron stills.
At the beginning of the thirties the application of turpentine in the industries experienced considerable extension. This was caused primarily by the increased use of paints accompanying the increase in wealth; by the development of the varnish, lacquer and caoutchouc industries; and, finally, by the use of a mixture of turpentine oil and alcohol as an illuminating agent, which had been introduced since 1839 as camphine and under other fanciful names. Up to the introduction of petroleum products (kerosene) about 1860, this was the cheapest illuminating material. The improvements, made in the course of the thirties, by Comstock, Hancock, Macintosh, Chaffee and especially by Luedersdorff in the processes employed in the caoutchouc industry did much to bring about a larger consumption of turpentine oil.
Office in London. Of the year 1610 this volume contains "Instructions for suche thinges as are to be sente from Virginia," also a printed pamphlet: "The Booke of the Commodities of Virginia." Both mention pitch, tar, rosin and turpentine among the products of Virginia. The former also contains brief directions for the method of preparation of turpentine which is still in vogue. (Dan. Hanbury, in Proceed. Americ. pharm. Ass. 19 , 491.)
1) Reise nach dem nordlichen Nordamerika im Jahre 1748 bis 1750 von Prof. Peter Kalm in Gottingsche Sammlung neuer und merkwurdiger Reisen zu Wasser und zu Lande. Gottingen 1754-1764. Vol. 2, pp. 418, 474; vol. 3, pp. 305, 523.
2) Reise durch einige der mittleren und sudlichen Vereinigten Nord-amerikanischen Staaten in den Jahren 1783 und 1784 von Dr. Johann David Schopf. Erlangen 1788. Vol. 2, pp. 141, 247-252.
3) Histoire des arbres forestiers de 1'Ame'rique septentrionale, par F. Andre Michaux. Paris 1810. Vol. 1, p. 73.
This increase in the consumption brought about an increase in the turpentine industry in 1834, and caused the introduction of better distilling apparatus such as copper stills which insured not only a larger yield of turpentine oil but also a better quality of resin.1) The exportation of American turpentine oil and colophony to England and other countries asumed large proportions only after the removal of the import duty in England in 1846. It was interrupted, however, during the years 1861 to 1865 of the civil war, the period of industrial and commercial stagnation.
Up to the year 1837, the opinion prevailed in Carolina that the pine forests farther to the south were not adapted to the production of turpentine on account of differences in climate and soil. In the year mentioned, experiments conducted on a large scale showed this opinion to be erroneous. As a result of the great demand and of increasing speculation, the industry spread rapidly to South Carolina and Georgia, and later to Alabama and Mississippi.2) With the introduction of the more readily transportable copper stills, the distillation was more and more conducted at the place of production, so that the turpentine farms began to supply the finished though crude products of distillation, oil and rosin, in place of turpentine, to the ports along the coast. With the increased consumption of turpentine oil a corresponding overproduction of rosin resulted. This could not be disposed of and consequently suffered a corresponding depreciation in value.
1) The forests, forest lands and forest products of Eastern North Carolina. By W. W. Ashe. Raleigh N. C. 1894.
2) Carl Mohr, The timber pines of the Southern United States. Washington 1897. p. 69. - Die Gewinnung und Verarbeitung des Terpentins im Suden der Ver. Staaten. Pharm. Rundschau (New York) 2 (1884), 187.
This disparity was equalized toward the end of the sixties. The opening up of new territories of production brought about an overproduction in turpentine oil as well, which was felt all the more because petroleum products took its place as an illuminating agent and also superseded it in various branches of the arts and industries. On the other hand, colophony found new and large application.
The turpentine industry in the Southern states thus developed more and more. With the establishment of cheap means of transportation by rail and by water, all the conditions were given for a prosperous growth to the enormous dimensions on which this industry is being conducted at present.