Turpentine Industry at Irwinville

Turpentine distillery near the project Irwin County Georgia Arthur Rothstein Library of Congress Southern Folklife Depression © Brian Brown Irwinville Farms Vanishing Media USA 2012

Turpentine Still at Irwinville

Trap used on pine tree for catching sap for turpentine distillation Irwin County Georgia Arthur Rothstein August 1935 Library of Congress Turpentine © Brian Brown Irwinville Farms Vanishing Media USA 2012

Catface Used in Turpentining

Both Images: Arthur Rothstein/Library of Congress. (August 1935)

“Gum from the pine tree was distilled into rosin and spirits of turpentine in what has been described by many as [an] “oversized liquor still”. The collection and processing of pine gum was a year round ordeal and often required a large work force. Laborers would work their way from tree to tree chipping shallow gutters (called streaks) into the fresh wood of the tree face with a tool called a hack. This cut face and aluminum gutters nailed to the tree would direct the gum down into a “box” that was notched at the bottom of the tree by a broad axe. However, these boxes were often very destructive-essentially girdling the tree at its base. In the early years of the twentieth century, technology improvements allowed gum to be collected in clay or metal cups hung from the tree by a nail. The cut faces were sometimes called “catfaces”.

From Auburn University’s Longleaf Alliance webpage:

http://www.auburn.edu/academic/forestry_wildlife/longleafalliance/ecosystem/ecosystem.htm

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Filed under FSA Photographer Arthur Rothstein, Irwinville Folklife, Irwinville People

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