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PARAGRAPH 536–COAL-TAR PRODUCTS. "It is not difficult to find the reason for this condition. In Europe the refinement of coal tar is conducted largely for the production of coal dyes, and this does not interiere with the production of a good grade of creosote. On the other hand, in the United States, where the prime object is the production of pitch, the only creosote produced is that which will not interfere with the character or amount of the pitch. Furthermore, by-product retorts are more extensively used throughout Europe than in this country, where large quantities of coal are coked in the beehive ovens with a loss of the possible by-products."
In Circular 186, issued by the Forestry Service on August 2, 1911, entitled “Consumption of Wood Preservatives and Quantity of Wood Treated in the United States in 1910," the same fact is stated in the following language:
"Since timber treating began on a commercial scale in the United States the domestic supply of creosote has never been equal to the needs of the industry. With the rapid development of wood preservation in recent years the insufficiency of the home production has become more marked.
"Nearly three-fourths of the imported creosote came from England and Germany; some was obtained from other European countries and some from Nova Scotia. The domestic creosote was obtained chiefly in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and other large cities.
** Were all the tar produced which the coal annually coked in the beehive and byproduct ovens in the United States is capable of yielding it would distill considerably more creosote than is now used in preserving wood in this country. UnfortuDately, American operators do not even get the fullest use of the limited quantity of coal tar made in this country, for it does not pay the operators to distill coal tar for creosote alone; so, unless they can find a market for the associated products it is not separated. Germany has gone far ahead of the United States in the development of coal-tar products, and European exports of creosote to this country are steadily increasing
Railroad ties constitute about two-thirds of the timber thus treated in the United States. Next to crossties, the most important class of timbers is piling, including dock timbers. In addition to the foregoing, timber thus treated is used in the construction of steamboats and barges on the Mississippi River and also in car construction.
It was estimated by the Forest Bureau in 1910 (Forest Products, No. 8) that the number of crossties then in use or held for renewals on all classes of railroads in the United States was probably not less than 1,000,000,000, 148,231,000 being used that year, 6 per cent for electric roads, and 94 per cent for steam roads. Of these, 15 per cent were for new tracks, and the balance for renewals. With the large increase in electric railway mileage since that date and also a considerable increase in the steam railroad mileage, doubtless the number of ties now in use is much greater.
In addition to the foregoing, much timber is now being treated with creosote oil, as a preservative, for other purposes, including telegraph and trolley poles, paving blocks, mining props, cross arms, and many other classes of lumber for various purposes. The following table, taken from Circular 186 of the Forestry Bureau, supra, gives the amount of wood material treated with creosote in the United States for the years 1907 to 1910, inclusive:
Wood material treated with creosote oil in the United States, 1907–1910.
1907 1908 1909. 1910..
Cubic feet. Cubic feet. Cubic feet. Cubic feet. Cubic feet. Cubic feet. Cubic feet. Cubic feet. 17, 252,622 4,423,611
2,874,560 1,687, 450 238, 742 4,561,327 28, 861, 260 6,059, 919
31,038,312 1,260,020 2,657,398 480, 640 29,830,080 4,421, 726
6,065, 717 45,384, 954 659, 664 2,994, 290 4,902,311 41,764 44,525, 529
417,787 43, 267,622 5,219, 254 265,597 4,692, 453 7,801, 272 88,069 2,682, 713 65,274,887 120, 469, 49120, 124,510 925,261 | 11,821,323 | 17,048, 491 849,215 13,727,544 184,965,775
In the report of the National Conservation Commission (vol. 2, S. Doc. No. 676, 60th Cong., 2d sess.), page 661, it is estimated that the life of timber used for various purposes is increased by proper preservative treatment in nearly all cases at least double,
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PARAGRAPH 536–COAL-TAR PRODUCTS. and in some instances and with some kinds of timber, the life thereof is trebled, quadrupled, and even sextupled. Thus, the life of mine props by proper treatment is extended from 3 to 13 years; shingles from 18 to 32 years; crossties, from 7 to 17 years; poles, from 13 to 23 years; posts, from 8 to 22 years; piles, from 31 to 214 years; lumber for ordinary building purposes, from 8 to 20 years. The prolongation of the life of some of the softer woods is even more marked, while the uses to which that class of woods may be put after proper treatment have greatly increased.
In the volume issued May 18, 1911, by the Bureau of the Census, entitled “Forest Products of the United States, 1909,” page 75, under the head of “Preservation," it is said:
“Many species of timber unfitted for use as ties because they lack decay-resisting qualities or immunity to insect attacks are made available for the purpose by the use of a preservative treatment. Even in the case of wood that is naturally more or less durable, such treatment is often economical, the added life in service more than paying for the increase in the original cost. Of the 78 species of timber which the different specifications of the steam railroads of the United States permit to be used as crossties, over one-half are acceptable for such use only after the application of a preservative. Among the woods most commonly treated are pine, red or black oak, Douglas fir, hemlock, gum, spruce, and beech.
“The remarkable increase in the use of western pine, gum, spruce, and beech crossties in the reported purchase of ties in 1909 is doubtless due to the use of wood preservatives."
It is a well-known fact that the quantity of available timber in this country for building, railway, and other purposes is diminishing very rapidly from year to year. Even for crosstie purposes alone large areas of forests are required every year. Mr. Ripley, president of the Atchison Railway Co., in a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury dated October 25, 1910 (hearings before the Committee on Expenditures in the Treasury Department, May 25, 1911, p. 11), estimated that his company uses 4,000,000 ties annually, or 160,000,000 feet, board measure, of timber, and that the life of a tie untreated is about 7 years, while when properly treated it would last 14 years. Continuing, he said:
"Figuring an average of 6,000 feet to the acre, we require, say, 26,000 acres of timber land to be cut over for our supply of ties alone. If we can reduce this by one-half, we will be calling on the forests for no more than 13,000 acres, and I think you will agree with me that from a conservation stand point alone all possible consideration
In bulletin 118 of the Forestry Bureau, issued November 9, 1912, entitled “Prolonging the Life of Crossties," page 1, it is said:
In 1909 the steam and electric railroads of the United States purchased 123,751,000 wooden crossties. * * Of these ties, 16,437,000, or about 13 per cent, were purchased for new construction; the remainder, 107,314,000, were used for renewals.
To produce the ties used for renewals it was necessary to cut about 710,000 acres of timberland, averaging 5,000 board feet, or 150 ties per acre. The amount of wood so cut is equivalent, under present conditions, to the annual growth on about 55,000,000 acres of forest.
Crossties are particularly liable to decay, since they are used under conditions which are favorable to the growth of wood-destroying fungi. Consequently, the railroads have always taken a leading part in timber preservation in the United States. Fifteen railroads report the operation of timber-treating plants; many also have ties and other materials treated by commercial plants."
In Circular 186 of the Forestry Service, supra, page 43, it is said:
“The perusal of the individual reports for 1910 shows also a tendency toward the treatment of certain classes of material which have not heretofore been treated to any great extent. For example, the railroads report the treatment of large amounts of tie plugs, pole brackets, fence posts, pole steps, tunnel wedges, and planks. Other commercial concerns also report a treatment of much material which goes into conduit and sewer pipe, barge timbers, and lumber for use in exposed places. The treatment of mine timbers also shows a decided increase."!
The deterioration of timber by preventable decay causes a heavy demand upon the timber resources of the country. By the adoption of devices to retard wear and methods to prevent decay the present trackage of railroads could be maintained with approximately one-half of the quantity of wood annually used for that purpose. To employ methods which increase the average length of time that ties may remain in service without decay is equivalent to increasing the supply of timber to that extent.
In the report of the National Conservation Commission, supra, pages 660-661, it is said:
PARAGRAPH 536–COAL-TAR PRODUCTS. "It is well known that the quality of timber is deteriorating each year, so much so, in many respects, that it has caused a complete revision of the specifications for grading it. This is due mostly to the exhaustion of the better grades, which has forced the utilization of the poorer qualities. Thus, where specifications once rigidly insisted upon first-quality white oak for ties, or heart longleaf pine for dimension stuff, they are now given a very liberal interpretation, and species other than white oak are accepted with no difference in price, or considerable amounts of sapwood are allowed on 'all-heart' sticks.
-- This deterioration in quality naturally results in a decreased length of life, which, in turn, com pels a larger annual cut of timber.
"HOW WOOD PRESERVATION WOULD LESSEN THE DRAIN ON THE FORESTS. “That the drain on the forests of the country would be materially reduced by a pmper preservative treatment of all structural timbers can not be doubted. It is very evident that by prolonging the life of timber a given number of years the amount cut for replacements would be correspondingly reduced. It is seen that if all ties, poles, posts, piling, mine props, shingles, and structural lumber adapted to treatment were given a proper treatment an annual saving of about 6,000,000,000 feet b. m. would
“It is a well-established fact that a proper preservative treatment will prolong the life of the decay-resisting species as well as that of an inferior grade. By applying this treatment, it is evident that a reduction in the annual cut for replacements will follow, but since the increase over the natural life is larger with inferior grades better financial results will be obtained by their use. The different species of wood, such as cedar, cypress, white oak, etc., which are naturally resistant to decay, have in former years been used to a very great extent. In consequence of this quality the supply of these species is very rapidly diminishing, and the consumers are of necessity turning their attention to other species formerly largely disregarded on account of their inability to resist decay. The increasing demand for loblolly pine in the South and the lodgepole pine and Engelmann spruce in the West are examples. If these species are used in an untreated condition, they will decay far more rapidly than the timber formerly employed, and a consequent increased annual cut will ensue. Hence it is essential that they be given a preservative treatment.
"To sum up, wood preservation not only prolongs the life of durable timbers, thus decreasing their annual consumption, but also permits the substitution of inferior species, whose use considerably reduces the drain upon the more valuable kinds."
On page 665 the following statement is made:
"The financial saving that would result each year in the United States, were a uniform policy adopted,
would amount to about $72,000,000. It should be remembered that this includes the value of the labor as well as that of the timber itself, and thus represents the amount of money that could be turned each year into other channels."
In conclusion, the report says:
"Wood preservation began on a commercial scale in the United States in 1848. There are at the present time about 60 plants in operation, with a total output of approximately 1,250,000,000 feet b. m. Most of these plants are located in the South, East, and Central West, but the tendency will be to extend westward as the supply of timber gradually decreases.
"The preservation of cut timber reduces its destruction by decay, fire, insects, marine borers, and mechanical abrasion. These factors destroy annually about 9,700,000,000 feet b. m. of cut timber in the United States. Decay is by far the most destructive agency; its retardation, therefore, is of prime importance.
"On account of the rapid depletion of standing timber, grades of poor quality are now being sold in the market. This has resulted in more timber being cut each year to do the same work that a smaller amount of the better grades did a few years ago.
"Wood preservation, then, accomplishes three great economic objects: (1) It prolongs the life of the durable species in use; (2) it prolongs the life of the inferior and cheaper woods; and (3) it permits the utilization of inferior woods which without preservative treatment would have little or no value.
"Quite frequently inferior woods are rapid and prolific growers, and sprout up on cut or burned-over areas in such numbers and with such persistence that the slower growing and the naturally more valuable kinds are hopelessly outstripped. Such restocked land has heretofore represented almost a total economic loss, because of the little value of the new crop. Wood preservation has changed this aspect. It has
PARAGRAPH 536–COAL-TAR PRODUCTS.
allowed these cheap woods to be utilized, and by so doing has decreased the call for skilled labor necessary to properly manage forests and increased the revenue that can be derived therefrom.
“Other things being equal, the increased life afforded by proper preservative treatment varies directly with the use to which the treated timber is put. Estimates on the increased life of various kinds and forms of timber are approximately as follows: Ties, 10 years; poles, 104 years; posts, 14 years; piles, 18 years; mine props, 10 years; shingles, 14 years; lumber, 12 years.
“The increased length of life as a result of preservative treatment decreases the annual cut of timber in direct proportion to the increase secured. Table 2 shows that the total estimated saving would amount each year to approximately 6,000,000,000 feet b. m., or about 12 per cent of the total lumber cut. The saving of our timber resources, therefore, is strikingly apparent.
“But, still further, this saving in material wealth can be brought about by a corresponding financial saving in the cost of maintenance, thereby permitting current expenditures to be placed in other channels. The total estimated saving that would accrue as a result of a uniform policy of wood preservation approximates $72,000,000 a year. This estimate includes timber set in position; hence the labor cost of placement is included. Thus it is not only possible to reduce the amount of lumber cut 12 per cent, but to do it at an annual saving of $72,000,000.”
In a letter dated March 19, 1910, addressed to the President by Ernest F. Hartmann, president of the Carbolineum Preserving Co., of New York (hearings before the Committee on Expenditures in the Treasury Department, May 24, 1911, p. 6), the following statement is made:
* It is realized that it would be unwise to place a duty on this material, as its wider use will tend to increase our national wealth by conserving our remaining timber supplies.
The specifications for a suitable grade of creosote oil adopted by the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association are of such standard that American creosote oil will not conform thereto, the result being that the imported oil must be relied upon to supply our railroads with material with which to impregnate their timber.”
One of the greatest questions before this country to-day is the matter of prolonging our supply of timber. The business in which our company is engaged is thus cooperating with the Forestry Department in giving greater life to the enormous volume of forest products employed in railway construction and maintenance and in other lines of industry in which lumber is used, and is thereby rendering magnificent aid in decreasing the rate of depletion of our diminishing forests.
In protesting against the levying of a duty upon these imported creosote oils we wish to say that its application would be very detrimental to the wood-preserving industry of the country, which industry is rendering greater aid to the forest-preserve policy of all branches of this Government, to the end that the life of our forests may be prolonged, than all efforts by others in every other industry combined.
In view of the known necessity of conserving our timber supply, this imported creosote oil, which is a very superior article, should by all means be classified under the free list in order that it may be used for the preservation of timber, thus conserving our timber supply by insuring a greater life for that which is used.
The production of creosote oil in this country is limited, and we are compelled to use the foreign oil in order to meet the present requirement for timber treatment. The business, however, will not stand a greater charge for the oil, and if a duty is imposed the preservation of timber as to-day practiced will be decreased to a very great extent.
That the cheapening of this preservative oil will assist in diminishing the annual consumption of all grades of timber there is no doubt.
In conclusion, we beg to invite your attention to a letter of Mr. E. A. Sterling, president of the American Wood Preservers' Association, dated April 16, 1912, addressed to Hon. Boies Penrose (hearings and statements before the Committee on Finance, United States Senate, 62d Cong., 2d sess., on the bill H. R. 20182, p. 106), hereinbelow set out in full, with the views and reasoning of which we are in full accord.
That letter is as follows: “Hon. Boies PENROSE, Washington, D. C.
“Dear Sir: We have been informed that the Underwood chemical schedule now before the Senate contains a clause imposing a duty of 5 per cent on creosote oil imported for purposes of wood preservation. On behalf of the wood-preserving
PARAGRAPH 536-COAL-TAR PRODUCTS. industry, as represented by the American Wood Preservers’ Association, I should like to call your attention to the harmful and wide-reaching effect which such a duty Fould have on an important industry and on the conservation of our forest resources.
* Briefly stated, the following valid objections to the proposed duty on creosote oil can be made without fear of contradiction:
“1. The wood-preserving industry, which has grown from 11 operating plants in 1900 to 101 in 1911, would suffer a severe setback.
“2. The increasing scarcity and high price of timber make preservative treatment imperative in order to keep down the cost of operation of railroads and many other industrial concerns.
*3. The preservative treatment of crossties and timber against decay is the most active influence in reducing the drain upon our forests and thereby conserving our forest resources.
“4. The preservative treatment of timber permits the use of many inferior woods wbich without treatment would be useless, thereby making an asset out of large quantities of material which otherwise would be unproductive.
“5. The amount of domestic creosote oil produced is not sufficient to meet the demands, the amount imported being 37,569,000 gallons, or 73 per cent of the total consumption, in 1909, and 45,081,000 gallons, or 71 per cent, in 1910. There is a ready market for all domestic creosote at remunerative prices, and not necessary to impose a duty on the foreign oil in order to protect American manufacturers.
6. The foreign creosote market is firm and the outlook is that prices will increase rather than decline; and if these increasing prices are further enhanced by a duty, developments in wood preservation will be retarded.
*7. The Government and various States are making every effort to conserve our timber resources, and since the preservative treatment of timber is an essential factor in making our forests more nearly meet the future needs it would be most unfortunate for the Government to impose a duty which in a way would counteract its own efforts along the line of forest conservation.
"We will greatly appreciate your cooperation and assistance in the above matter and will be very glad to be advised as to what further steps we could take in retaining coal-tar creosote on the free list. “Very truly, yours,
“E. A. STERLING, President." The American Wood Preservers’ Association are necessarily concerned in this subject purely from an altruistic standpoint, in the interests of all the people. No mercenary motives can be imputed to them; and their views, therefore, are entitled to, and we believe will receive at your hands, the very highest consideration.
For the foregoing reasons, we ask that in any bill amending the chemical schedule which may be introduced by you and reported by your committee in the ensuing Congress the commercial article known as dead or creosote oil be placed on the free list, where it now is and has always been heretofore. Very respectfully,
BURDETT, THOMPSON & Law, Attorneys for St. Helens Creosoting Co.
JANUARY 9, 1913. Hon. OSCAR W. UNDERWOOD, Chairman Ways and Means Committee,
United States House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. SIR: Our attention has been called to the fact that coal-tar creosote or dead oil of tar is listed under article 23 in the Underwood bill, now under consideration by the Ways and Means Committee. In this connection and on behalf of the American Wood Preservers' Association, which represents most of the creosote-consuming interests in this country, I should like to respectfully call your attention to a few fundamental points which would seem to fully justify a retention of coal-tar creosote on the free list.
As a first consideration the United States is producing only about 30 per cent of the Creosote used in the wood-preserving industry, the remainder being imported from Great Britain and Germany. The total consumption has been increasing quite rapidly, or from 56,000,000 gallons in 1908 to 73,000,000 gallons in 1911; while the domestic output has maintained practically a constant percentage to the total amount used, being 31 per cent in 1908 and 30 per cent in 1911.
The selling price and ocean freight rates on foreign coal-tar creosote have increased, so that the consumers of creosote in the timber States who are forced to buy at least part of their oil abroad, because the domestic supply is not sufficient, now have to pay