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Pine was also a favorite tree of loggers since pine logs can still be processed in a lumber mill a year or more after being cut down. Fast forward to the middle of the 20th century, fast-growing pine remained an easy wood to obtain.
In contrast, most hardwood trees such as cherry, maple, oak, and ash must be cut into 1” thick boards immediately after felling or large cracks will develop in the trunk which can render the wood worthless. It’s a relatively soft wood — so it’s easy for lumber mills, pattern makers and installers to work with.
Above: Yes, the 1960 catalog that we found says Americans have lived with knotty pine for generations…. This photo and the one above courtesy the MBJ Collection on
Pine — including knotty pine — is a classic, vernacular material that was critically important, it seems, to many generations of American homes for many generations. Vorhees knows this material well — and his company still mills and sells pickwick pine paneling.
Moreover, in midcentury America, knotty pine was not only considered practical — it was downright fashionable, said to to Ed Vorhees, who has owned Tidewater Lumber in Greer, S. I asked Vorhees if he knew where the name Pickwick Pine came from, but he did not know.
During the postwar housing boom, the pine industry promoted its use with lots of advertising.
It was very accessible for handy, thrifty do-it-yourselfers.