Montana’s Rich Timber Heritage

Logging has been in Montana since the start

Montana’s logging industry started in 1862, providing the Gold Rush miners with wood to support their shafts and fire their smelters. It also continued over to the copper mining industry.  The industrial need for timber and the rich abundance of it made Montana a place for making your own success.  The vast mountains captured the hearts of people who made the tough journey across the country to take advantage of newfound industry and money.  Yet today in a state of science telling us the real threats of global warming, the Timber Industry has taken a hit and calls for new ethical practices to be made.

An early 1900's barn outside of Hot Springs, MT

The economic returns to people of Montana were vast

The early industrial booms in mining, logging, and agriculture led to huge financial returns for people involved, not to mention job stability.  Todays it’s different for people working in these industries.  Stricter regulations and a tighter market have forced out a lot of new comers and smaller businesses.  Just to put some of it into perspective, in 1988 Ravalli County had 29 active timber facilities with total output of 50 million board feet being cut — That’s seven times more then where Ravalli County was last year!

Yet Industries are bouncing back in different ways

The logging industry has seen a new market opening up over the past 10 years that is unique and geographically select to Montana: Reclaimed Lumber.  The wood on fences helping ranchers across the state keep their cattle in and the timbers used in old family barns are the new diamonds in the rough for people who know how to capitalize.  The once rugged lifestyle of the people who took over Montana’s rivers and mountains is being captured in a new light through home decor, siding, and a whole aesthetic taste.


I’ve been blessed to see how companies operate in the reclaim timber market and to work first-hand on a team.  There is no other way to describe it other than, it’s cowboy.  Moving across the state, one 500 person town to another, a handful of companies race to reach ranchers and agricultural businesses for their old fences and timbers.  With big returns coming from how much board feet you can salvage, each company competes to reach the best ranches across the state.

Reclaimed Lumber brings the history to people

The old rustic barn out in an open wheat field may have once been someone’s lifeline.  The fences that have been in a ranchers corrals have had hundreds of cows bump up on it.  That’s the drive behind reclaimed lumber and the beauty of it as a product.  It is history. It has been somewhere and it has helped someone in one way or another.  So the next time you think about purchasing reclaimed lumber think about where it may have come from, was it a corral fence holding in cattle through the tough Montana winters?  Did my fireplace mantle come from someone’s old family barn or a mine shaft outside of Helena?  Or maybe you can come up with a story of your own, maybe that’s why Reclaimed Lumber is so popular.


Written by Austin Quane