Turpentine (also called Naval Stores)

Harvesting Gum from a Cat Face

In the era of wooden ships, the Navy demanded a tremendous amount of tar and pitch to seal boats. “Cats faces” were slashed into long-leaf yellow pine to collect the rosin (“gum”) into boxes or clay pots. These were then combined into barrels. This industry was called “Naval Stores.”

As the demand for tar and pitch decreased with the advent of metal ships, the demand for turpentine increased, especially for use in paints. “Turpentine farms” (pine forests) were planted just as before, but the pine sap went through an extra distillation process, somewhat similar to making moonshine. The term naval stores was broadened to include turpentine, even though the Navy was no longer the primary buyer.

Turpentine farmer
Clay County was flush with turpentine farms (slashed pines) and turpentine stills, especially after the first growth long-leaf yellow pine had been nearly completely clear cut by 1900.

In 1929, one-eighth of the county was planted for turpentine production. A “cooperage plant” was also in operation to make the turpentine storage barrels.

See also Timber

The Marmaduke Turpentine Mill is shown on map CCA101810 in Green Cove Springs.

Books at the Archives

  • Treasures of the Long Leaf Pines
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