I hesitate to write much about the White Pine. Over the years I have heard, and accepted as factual, a lot of misinformation about the White Pine, and I am reluctant to write much down until I have had much more time to read and absorb what I have learned.
It is unquestionably true that the most sought after tree in the forest was the white pine, specifically the eastern white pine (western white pine grows further west). When loggers and writers of the logging era talk of the northern "pinery" the pine they were referring to was the white pine. However, there is little agreement as to exactly how extensive the white pine pinery was, just where it was, and how dense with pine it was. I have read (but failed to note the source) it claimed that one good white pine per acre was good logging. Others suggest a fairly dense white pine forest. Some have argued that the white pine is the expected climax vegetation for the northwoods [see Miscellany], others suggest that the pine forests that the loggers found in the 19th century were the results of (1) massive fires in the region in the 16th or 17th century, and/or (2) changing patterns of Indian occupation of the region.
There is no doubt that the white pine can be a magnificent tree. From the north bay of Star Lake, simply look at the ten or so trees at North Star Lodge and that will be clear. Or visit the lodge for dinner and stand by the trees and look up their trunks. They aren't pacific redwoods, but they are grand trees!
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+++White Pine as Climax Vegetation
[Darrel Morrison, landscape architect] "One of my hopes for the @@northland Northland College@@ campus is to get rid of a lot of lawn, and design species that show the successional progression of the northern forest--first with aspen and birch, then red pine and maple, then white pine and hemlock," he said. ##444 Horizons##
+++Uses of White Pine
Panshin and de Zeeuw (1980): "Uses [of eastern white pine]; Boxes and crates (one of the principal species, second-growth stock being used for the most part), for which it is specially suited because of its light weight, good color for stenciling, and lack of objectionable odor and taste; patterns (formerly the standard pattern wood, owing to it uniform texture, east of cutting in any direction, minimal shrinkage and swelling, ability to stay in place, east of gluing, freedom from resin, and strength to withstand rough handling; replaced largely by sugar ans western white pines, because of scarcity of high-grade stock; millwork (principally wsash and doors); toys, woodenware and novelties; signs; caskets, building construction (formerly widely used for practically every part of a house, but not infrequently because of the scarcity of suitable stock); matches (formerly the leading wood, now largely replaced by western white pine and aspen); shade and map rollers; venetian blinds; dairy and poultry supplies; boot and shoe findings." ##469 Textbook of Wood Technology##