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The Wilderness areas of Northeastern Minnesota are some of the most beautiful forested lands in the US. There are countless lakes and streams throughout this wilderness with a history of the early fur trade and timber industry that's every bit as rich as the view. As you wander through these forests, it’s hard to realize that most of the old growth timber was harvested well over 100 years ago and most of the trees you see today have reforested these Northwoods relatively recently. The incredible beauty of Northeastern Minnesota makes it hard to imagine the old growth forest of 150 years ago could have been any more splendid than it is today.
The explosive growth of the timber industry in the 1800's made it necessary to reach further into the forests as the demand for wood products increased. A spider web of short line, narrow gauge rail lines were built in the 1800’s and early 1900’s to facilitate hauling logs out of these remote areas of the Northern US and Canada. By the mid 1900’s, virtually all of these railways had been abandoned and dissembled leaving only the railroad grade and a few of the old pine trestle’s. It’s still possible to find remnants of these long abandoned rail lines and even a few old decaying train trestles that once spanned these waterways.
The harvested logs were hauled by rail to local sawmills or in some cases, brought to a water way to be floated to a more distant mill for processing. On occasion, as the logs were floated down a river, lake or held in a log pond, a log would break away and ultimately sink to the bottom. Some of these old growth trees were seedlings that date back as early as the 14th century and the resulting harvested logs have lain undisturbed on the lake and river bottoms perfectly preserved by the cold, low oxygen content waters for as much as 160 years.
The lumber from these logs has become highly desirable to woodworkers around the world for building everything from high quality furniture to musical instruments. The reason is the old growth timber grew and matured in heavily canopied forests that naturally slowed the growth process. Competition for moisture, nutrients and sunlight in these dense forests resulted in a tighter grain and much denser wood then the wood now harvested from our 'managed growth' woodlands. While the cost of recovering, drying and processing these sunken old growth logs is incredibly high compared to currently cut and processed wood, it’s well worth it.
Trestle Pine Knives is the byproduct of years spent fishing, hunting and camping in the wilderness lakes region of Northern Minnesota. Every single trip to the NE tip of Minnesota required some sort of pocket or belt knife for cleaning game, trimming brush, making repairs, setting up camp, preparing our meals and countless other jobs. During the 40+ years enjoying that country, my appreciation for a quality knife I could rely on became a driving force behind putting the pieces together to form a line of knives bearing the tang stamp, Trestle Pine Knives.
One of the northern lakes we fish has the remnants of an old trestle that once spanned a narrow portion of the lake. Long abandoned, this was part of one of the rail lines that carried some of this old growth timber out of the forest in the late 1800's. Slowly but surely the idea grew to combine my love of the North Country, an appreciation of a functional knife and the utilization of some of the wood that makes up that forest area all started to take shape.
Months of reading, research, sourcing and seemingly constant disappointment, finally led me to Aqua Timber, a Canadian firm specializing in recovering and processing these previously sunken logs into usable lumber. Recovering and processing these logs, is difficult, sometimes dangerous, expensive and time consuming so only a handful of companies have the expertise to offer this wood for sale. Many thanks to Aqua Timber for working with me to make the Trestle Pine Knives line possible!
I’ve chosen to use several varieties of this recovered wood for handle material on the Trestle Pine Knives. The Maple, Birch, Oak and Ash handles have a warmth and beauty that convey the feeling I experience every time I return to the Northern Wilderness Areas. To the best of my knowledge, Trestle Pine Knives are the only knives using this unique wood for handle material.
The blades of the Trestle Pine Knives are made from only the highest quality steel and materials. Blade steels will include the popular 1095, the tougher then nails D2 and a high quality stainless 154CM. I’ve made an effort to use blade steels appropriate to the intended purpose of each knife that will be not only durable and easy to maintain but have excellent edge holding properties as well.
It’s my hope the Trestle Pine Knives will become a travel companion on your outdoor adventures and a trusted every day carry knife on your belt or in your pocket. It's an opportunity to carry a quality cutting tool with a unique connection to history. They're designed and built to be used, not made to lay in a display case collecting dust. Over years of use, they'll continue to develop even more character and hopefully, be passed on to another generation with a piece of your own history attached to it.