FOR MORE than forty years their timber had been a source of income to the mountaineers, but in the 1870s the selling of the great trees took a new and highly important turn. Prior to those years the mountaineer had been compelled to deliver his trees via the spring river "tides" to the markets at Frankfort and Catlettsburg, but now amid the tumult of the feuds appeared a market for the uncut and still living trees. Speculators in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York and other northern cities had become aware of the immense stands of still virgin forest, and exploring geologists had begun to report the existence of vast beds of bituminous coal underlying the timbered hills. In financial and industrial circles occasional talk was heard that railroads should be built into the region and its great wealth of raw materials made available to the nation's rapidly swelling industrial complex. And while the vicissitudes of commerce were to prevent such railroads from becoming realities until just before the First World War, such discussions were sufficient to set off anticipatory tremors among capitalists in a half-dozen states. Their agents were soon traversing the narrow, winding mountain trails to seek out boundaries of the best trees and to buy them cheaply against the day when the coming of the iron road would automatically multiply their value many fold.
Corporations were organized for the express purposes of buying and speculating in eastern Kentucky timber, and a number of established lumber companies with operations elsewhere began now to turn an attentive eye toward the plateau. Some firms sent lawyers to