The giant Western Red Cedars are a member of the Cypress family, and some of these trees live for thousands of years. The trees’ longevity makes the Western Red Cedar forests a national treasure which cannot be replaced. These trees are also an important part of the Native Americans’ cultural heritage.
The bark of the tree was used by Native Americans for making rope, clothing and baskets; the wood for making canoes, totem poles and longhouses. The bark was also used for the roofing of the longhouses. Trees pre-dating 1846 which have been scarred by Native American activity are classified as archaeological sites and are protected by law. Arborvitae is the common name for the Cedar tree, and in Latin it means “tree of life”. The Native Americans also called the Western Red Cedar a similar name, “long life maker”.
Cedar is softwood which is famous for its beautiful aroma and attractive appearance. The straight grain and uniform texture make it a very workable wood. This timber is a very popular choice with carpenters because it can be easily cut, nailed and screwed as well as having a beautiful appearance and aroma. The Cedar wood’s aroma comes from thujaplicins which act as a natural preservative. The wood is insect and fungi resistant making it long lasting in outdoor applications. The durability of the wood has made it popular to use for shingles, poles and fence posts.
“Western Redcedar is native to the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada, from southeastern Alaska and British Columbia south through Washington and Oregon to the far northwest of California, primarily in coastal forests but with a disjunct inland population in the southeast of British Columbia, the extreme southwest of Alberta, northern Idaho and westernmost Montana.” US Forest Service, Silvics Manual: Western Redcedar
Quinault Lake, also known as the valley of the giants, is a beautiful rain forest which has some of the largest Western Red Cedars. One of the trees in the area is the third largest tree in volume in the world. This is a wonderful area to go hiking and view some of these majestic giants while staying at the Quinault National Park. There are many campgrounds in the park from which you can venture out and explore the miles of trails through these priceless and pristine forests.
Stewart (1984), p. 22
Western Red Cedar Lumber Association <http://www.wrcla.org/cedarspecs> (accessed February 11th, 2011)
Quinault Rain Foreset <http://www.quinaultrainforest.com/> (accesses February 11th, 2011)