A-Rafting on the Mississip'

By Charles Edward Russell | Go to book overview

Chapter XX
THE END FROM THE BEGINNING

THERE is rafting of logs on the River Elbe in Germany; much rafting of logs. All day long the rafts there follow one another down the stream as once rafts used to crowd the Mississippi. There has been rafting on the River Elbe for a thousand years. So far as any one can see, there is likely to be rafting on the River Elbe for a thousand years to come; much rafting.

Rafting and lumbering on the Mississippi lasted seventy years and ended. With it ended a great, useful, profitable industry.

So, then, Germany, an old country, thickly populated, keeps on with its lumbering century after century, and the Mississippi Valley, sparsely inhabited, exhausts in seventy years its once magnificent forests. Why is this?

Germany has laws by which its timber supply is conserved. For every tree that is cut down a tree must be planted. In the United States we have been free to waste and despoil and bid the future take care of itself or go hang. According to a government report made in 1910, a half century from that time would see the exhaustion of the last of the timber supply in the United States, once so inconceivably rich. A half century will not see the exhaustion of the timber supply in Germany.

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