Coffee Table Hand-Crafted from Flathead Lake Historic Timbers
Proceeds to benefit the Flathead Lake Monitoring Challenge Grant
Winning Bid: $500.00
Auction ended on: 8/18/2013. Proceeds will benefit the Flathead Lake Monitoring Challenge Grant. Thank you to everyone who bid on this historical table.
In the early 1900s, old growth western larch, ponderosa pine and Douglas fir were harvested from the forests of the Flathead by sawyers using crosscut saws, and the logs transported down the Swan and Flathead Rivers to Flathead Lake where they were floated to Somers Bay. At Somers Bay, the Devoe family operated the Somers Lumber Company and produced nearly 600,000 railroad ties annually for the Great Northern Railway. The mill and over a million board feet of lumber were tragically destroyed in a fire in 1957.
Some of the logs rafted to and stored in Somers Bay sank to the bottom of the lake. The logs remained there for decades until members of the Devoe family, who had noted the discrepancy between the number of logs for which they paid sawyers and the number of logs that were milled, embarked upon retrieving the logs from the lake bottom. To retrieve the logs in an environmentally benign manner and to be in compliance with the Montana Environmental Policy Act, the North Shore Development LLC was formed and went through the permitting process with Montana Department of Environmental Quality and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. As part of this process, the Flathead Lake Biological Station was consulted and provided water quality data to ensure that salvage activities were not causing water quality to deviate from the natural range.
Since 2010, more than 1000 logs have been retrieved by divers who attached airbags or eyebolts to winch the logs individually back to the surface. Having been submerged for such a long time, the logs reacted to elements in the water, resulting in unique coloration and history embedded into the lumber.
The top, rails and stretchers of this table are old growth western larch (Larix occidentalis), also known as "Tamarack", that was originally slated to be milled into railroad ties for the Great Northern Railroad by the Somers Bay Lumber Company. After 50-100 years on the bottom of Flathead Lake, the wood was raised up by divers and then milled by Hunt's Timber in St. Ignatius, Montana. The time on the lake bottom resulted in streaks of chocolate brown, green and violet. Lyptus hardwood (Eucalyptus grandis x Eucalyptus uropylla) was used for the legs of the table due to its durability. It was sustainably grown in Brazil on old coffee plantations.
The floating top and curved legs of this table are influenced by Japanese designs. The flared leg is reminiscent of tree buttress roots, such as those of larch from which the majority of the materials came. The finish is a mix of tung oil and urethane varnish. It is relatively waterproof and should not require any maintenance for many years to come.
Gary Hawk is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Davidson Honors College at The University of Montana where he teaches courses in the Humanities, but during the summer, he is an avid woodworker. He paddles his sea kayak on Flathead Lake as often as possible and sees the Biological Station as one of the arch defenders of the lake and its qualities. He can be contacted about this and other pieces by email at:firstname.lastname@example.org
Proceeds from the auction of this beautiful, hand-crafted table will benefit the Flathead Lake Monitoring Challenge Grant, which helps to maintain a data record that began in the 1890s and to ensure that Flathead Lake remains one of the cleanest large, freshwater lakes in the world now and for future generations.
The table will be on display at the Flathead Lake Biological Station and open for bidding until 5pm MDT August 18, 2013 at which time the highest bidder will win the table. The starting bid is $300.00. Bidding may be completed in person or by contacting Development Coordinator, Tom Bansak by email or phone at 406-982-3301 x229.