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Idaho's trees provided miners and settlers the wood for building homes, fences, sluices and for many other uses. Timber looks at the evolution of the lumber and wood products industries in the state. As Idaho became more populous, the economic value of timber sold outside the local region was recognized. At first very labor intensive, the timber industry became highly mechanized. It now faces a number of environmental issues and problems.


After viewing Timber, students will be able to:

  1. Recognize that over two thirds of Idaho's land, about 22 million acres, is forested.
  2. Understand the vast changes in tree harvesting and the economic importance which timber has had for Idaho.
  3. Identify the main problems and issues involved in timbering environmental, safety, demands on public lands, etc.
  4. Appreciate the history of timbering in Idaho.

Timber reviews the history of Idaho's lumber industry and related concerns. The program starts with the host, Phyllis Edmundson, in Silver City. Mining was the first major market for timber. The logging industry started in Idaho in 1840 and grew rapidly. The video examines how those first loggers got their product to market. It shows how a crosscut saw works. It describes how Frederick Weyerhauser came to Idaho to build a lumber empire.

The video describes the impact of wild fire on Idaho's history and focuses on the fire of 1910. It describes "the Idaho Idea," the Boise Interagency Fire Center.

Timber concludes with a look at how timber companies use computers and careful planning to manage their forest lands. It addresses industry diversification into different wood products and presents some of the environmental concerns.


(Before Viewing)

  1. Obtain a map showing Idaho's national forests. Locate large commercial sawmill and related industries in relation to these national forests. Have students list what questions they could ask about the forests from looking at the maps.
  2. Read excerpts from the "Paul Bunyan legend", (author, Jim Stevens.) Talk about what a logging camp must have been like.
  3. Have students list types of wood and wood products and their uses. Ask how students think those products are made.

(During Viewing)

  1. Would you want to work on a log drive?
  2. Can you name all the different paper products you use each day?
  3. How do you balance the need for wildlife, clean water, and recreation with the need for timber and all the jobs the logging industry provides?

Cooperative - A group of people, businesses or government agencies working together to solve a common problem
Teeth - The sharp points on a crosscut saw
Transcontinental Railroad - A railroad line that went from the East coast to the West coast of the United States
Wood Ties - Planks of wood used as a base for the steel rails of a railroad track


(After Viewing)

  1. What were some of the ways early loggers got their product to market? How is that different today?
  2. Where are Idaho's national forests? Have students locate them on a map. Identify what services are found in each forest
  3. How do fire fighters put out a wild fire? How do you prevent forest fires? How do cooperatives help fight forest fires?
  4. What sort of environmental concerns do today's timber companies face? Have the class list some of the pros and cons of an environmental issue.
  1. Have students research the history of the national forests in Idaho.
    Have students contact the local Forest Service, B.L.M. or other appropriate agency to interview workers about land management.
  2. Invite a logger or sawmill worker to speak to the class about how timber becomes lumber or a wood product. Have students research questions before the visit on topics such as the environmental concerns facing the timber industry or how timber companies have changed over the years.
  3. Make a diorama of how a tree becomes a finished product using actual trees, bark pieces, leaves, nuts and pictures.

An Event Tree

In 1890, Phyllis' great grandmother planted a tree to commemorate Idaho becoming a state. In 1990, the wind knocked the tree down. A lot of history happened while that tree grew. Each ring marks a year in the tree's life with year one being the ring in the very center.

Below you will find a slice of Phyllis' great grandmother's tree showing all the rings. You will also find a list of 10 events in Idaho history. Write the date that event occurred on the line next to the event and draw a line from the event to the year it happened on the Event Tree.

Event tree