The timbers used in our new barn are Englemann spruce logs. They originally were used as 'boomsticks' on the Arrow Lakes in BC’s southeast interior. Boomsticks connected end to end to form a floating 'corral' which loggers load with newly cut logs destined to be floated out to area sawmills. Englemann spruce is excellent for this purpose being large, strong, and very straight.
After 10-20 years of service hauling log booms to the mill at Castlegar, these logs began to lose buoyancy and were replaced with new ones. Hundreds were simply left to sink in a bay near the mill. A few local entrepreneurs realized that these high-grade logs could be reclaimed for use. Nearly 70 truckloads of timber were recovered, starting in 2014, using divers and a barge.
Being waterlogged for years in a cold, dark, low-oxygen environment had a remarkable effect. Freshwater replaced the sap, and the spiral grain of the spruce was able to relax slowly. With little oxygen in the water, rot wasn’t able to take hold. After two years on land, the moisture level is now similar to that of new timber.
These boomsticks, although they were forgotten in a rather deep, dark place are now finding new life in the service of celebration and joy. Goes to show you can’t keep a good boomstick down.