Turpentine Still at Irwinville
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: