The Legacy of the White Pine is nothing short of the history of a nation, a region, and a family.
Think the American Revolution was sparked by a fight over a tax on tea? Think again. British explorers probed the shores of what is now New England, searching for treasure. They found it in the form of White Pine. The British Navy desperately needed a new source of ship masts to replace their depleted sources in Europe and the Baltics. The King soon imposed his will on the colonies, reserving the biggest, straightest White Pine for himself, stamping each tree with the his mark, the hated King's Broad Arrow. In time the colonists would not have it. A war was fought and won, and a nation was born.
Over the following centuries, a small army of Finns, Germans, Scotts, Irish, and French felled the seemingly endless forest of White Pine from Maine to Pennsylvania, then New York, Michigan and Wisconsin. Ship masts were no longer the prize. The unmatched qualities of White Pine, which make it the finest of 115 pine species around the world, fueled the building of a hungry nation.
When the timber fellers finally reached Minnesota in the early 1800's, they discovered the best was still ahead, and it still seemed endless. But it was not. When the axe fell on the last of the vast White Pine forests, Weyerhauser, Joyce, Pillsbury & Co. discovered other endeavors or moved to the forests of the American West and South. The endless White Pine forest withstood European exploitation for a mere 300 years.
At this very time, 1902, Ivar and Anna Rajala came from Finland to the new land, and found Northern Minnesota to be a suitable place to homestead and farm. But Ivar soon discovered there were smaller stands of White Pine remaining, and he and his 7 sons, Art being the oldest, continued on a small scale where the big operations had left off.
Over the 20th Century the Rajala's learned the hard lessons of continuing to harvest but beginning to restore the White Pine. Dean, Jack, and Randy Rajala, Art's sons, recognized the White Pine wasn't growing back in Minnesota naturally the way it did in Maine. The unnaturally high white tail deer population that came after the harvest and conversion to agriculture simply would not let the White Pine restore itself. The 3 Rajala Brothers began to work with other visionary private and public foresters to find new ways to restore our legacy tree. Jack chronicled their efforts in his book, "Bringing Back The White Pine".
Into this White Pine Legacy was born the next generation of Rajala foresters and sawyers. They have learned from the failures and built on the successes of the 3 generations that preceded them. They and other forest managers can now celebrate the success of beginning the long process of restoring White Pine to prominence in the Great North Woods. A new brand of products which especially celebrates the White Pine, Minnesota Timber and Millwork, was born. And a new generation has caught the passion, each in her or his own way.
5 Generations of Restoring the White Pine and milling world class products. A good start.