Official 54 Passage 2


The Commercialization of Lumber


The word “commodity ” in the passage is closest in meaning to

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正确答案: A

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  • In nineteenth-century America, practically everything that was built involved wood. Pine was especially attractive for building purposes. It is durable and strong, yet soft enough to be easily worked with even the simplest of hand tools. It also floats nicely on water, which allowed it to be transported to distant markets across the nation. The central and northern reaches of the Great Lakes states-Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota-all contained extensive pine forests as well as many large rivers for floating logs into the Great Lakes, from where they were transported nationwide.

    By 1860, the settlement of the American West along with timber shortages in the East converged with ever-widening impact on the pine forests of the Great Lakes states. Over the next 30 years, lumbering became a full-fledged enterprise in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Newly formed lumbering corporations bought up huge tracts of pineland and set about systematically cutting the trees. Both the colonists and the later industrialists saw timber as a commodity , but the latter group adopted a far more thorough and calculating approach to removing trees. In this sense, what happened between 1860 and 1890 represented a significant break with the past. No longer were farmers in search of extra income the main source for shingles, firewood, and other wood products. By the 1870s, farmers and city dwellers alike purchased forest products from large manufacturing companies located in the Great Lakes states rather than chopping wood themselves or buying it locally.

    The commercialization of lumbering was in part the product of technological change. The early, thick saw blades tended to waste a large quantity of wood, with perhaps as much as a third of the log left behind on the floor as sawdust or scrap. In the 1870s, however, the British-invented band saw , with its thinner blade, became standard issue in the Great Lakes states` lumber factories. Meanwhile, the rise of steam-powered mills streamlined production by allowing for the more efficient, centralized, and continuous cutting of lumber. Steam helped to automate a variety of tasks, from cutting to the carrying away of waste. Mills also employed steam to heat log ponds, preventing them from freezing and making possible year-round lumber production.

    For industrial lumbering to succeed, a way had to be found to neutralize the effects of the seasons on production. Traditionally, cutting took place in the winter, when snow and ice made it easier to drag logs on sleds or sleighs to the banks of streams. Once the streams and lakes thawed, workers rafted the logs to mills, where they were cut into lumber in the summer. If nature did not cooperate-if the winter proved dry and warm, if the spring thaw was delayed-production would suffer. To counter the effects of climate on lumber production, loggers experimented with a variety of techniques for transporting trees out of the woods. In the 1870s, loggers in the Great Lakes states began sprinkling water on sleigh roads, giving them an artificial ice coating to facilitate travel. The ice reduced the friction and allowed workers to move larger and heavier loads.

    But all the sprinkling in the world would not save a logger from the threat of a warm winter. Without snow the sleigh roads turned to mud. In the 1870s, a set of snowless winters left lumber companies to ponder ways of liberating themselves from the seasons. Railroads were one possibility. At first, the remoteness of the pine forests discouraged common carriers from laying track. But increasing lumber prices in the late 1870s combined with periodic warm, dry winters compelled loggers to turn to iron rails. By 1887, 89 logging railroads crisscrossed Michigan, transforming logging from a winter activity into a year-round one.

    Once the logs arrived at a river, the trip downstream to a mill could be a long and tortuous one. Logjams (buildups of logs that prevent logs from moving downstream) were common-at times stretching for 10 miles-and became even more frequent as pressure on the northern Midwest pinelands increased in the 1860s. To help keep the logs moving efficiently, barriers called booms (essentially a chain of floating logs) were constructed to control the direction of the timber. By the 1870s, lumber companies existed in all the major logging areas of the northern Midwest.

  • 在十九世纪的美国,几乎所有建筑的建筑材料中都有木头。松木在建筑用途中尤为受欢迎。它耐用而坚固,却又足够软到即使用最简单的手工工具也能轻易打造。它还能非常好地漂浮在水上,因而它可以穿过国家被转移到遥远的市场。五大湖地区中部和北部的河段地区——密歇根,威斯康星,以及明尼苏达——全都包含了广阔的松木林并且拥有许多大河流来将原木漂流输送进五大湖内,松木由此被输送至全国各地。

    到1860年,美国西部的定居伴随着东部地区的木材短缺趋势对于在五大湖地区松木林的影响不断扩大。在之后三十年,伐木业在密歇根,威斯康星,明尼苏达成为了一个完全成熟的行业。新成立的伐木公司买了大片的松木林土地并开始系统化地砍伐树木。殖民者与之后的工业家都把木材看作是货物,而后者采取了更加彻底及精明的方式砍伐树木。在这个意义上,在1860到1890年发生的事代表了一个对过去的重大突破。农民们不再从墙面板,木柴以及其他木制品中寻求额外收入。到19世纪70年代,农民和城市居民同样从五大湖的大制造企业中购买森林产品而不是亲自伐木或去当地购买。 伐木业的商品化是科技化转变产物的一部分。早先,粗锯条更容易浪费大量的木头,大约有三分之一的原木被当做锯末或碎片留在地上。然而,在19世纪70年代,英国发明了带锯,它有着更细的锯条,成为五大湖伐木业的标配。同时,新兴起的蒸汽工厂通过使用更有效率,集中,连续不断的方式砍伐木头实现了流水式的生产。蒸汽促使许多任务实现自动化,从伐木到废料处理。工厂还用蒸汽来加热原木池,防止它们结冰,从而实现了全年的木材生产。



    但是在这个世界上任何洒水行为都不能在暖冬的威胁下拯救一个伐木工人没有雪, 滑雪道会变成泥路。在19世纪70年代,一连串的无雪冬日,让伐木公司思考从季节性影响中解放出来的方法。铁路是一种可能性。一开始,松树林的偏僻阻拦了普通运输公司铺设轨道。但是在19世纪70年代末,木材价格不断上涨,结合周期性回暖,以及干燥的冬天,促使工人们寄希望于靠铁路解决问题。到1887年,89条木材轨道纵横交错穿越密歇根,将伐木从一个冬季活动变成全年的活动。

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