LUMBER: Black Bonanza

Like many another farmer in western Washington's Satsop Valley, Albert Kuhlne pastured his cattle along a grass-grown waste of charred logs and blackberry thickets—the scorched remains of a forest fire in 1902. But this summer, as Northwest plywood and lumber mills went hungry for logs, Kuhlne wondered if the "old burn" might not still have some good timber in it. He sawed into a charred tree. After 42 years its core, sealed in by charcoal, was still sound. He found 5,000,000 feet of burned but merchantable timber lying on 400 acres around it.

Kuhlne and his neighbor, Isaac Ford, scraped...

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