The early prosperity of East Texas started with trees, and the region had (and still has) plenty of those. There’s a reason I named my work “The Pine Curtain Project.” The part of East Texas where I am from is dense with pines – The Piney Woods. It is so much a part of the region’s identity that even today, the local university’s mascot is a Lumberjack, a popular local coffee shop is Java Jack’s, the best-known festival is the Forest Festival and the main drag in Lufkin is Timberland Drive. At the same time, the density of trees can either isolate or protect, depending on how you look at it. Like…a curtain. I imagine this “curtain effect” was even stronger before the timber industry moved in, cleared away and changed the physical, sociological and cultural landscape.
This image makes me think of the beginning of the end of an era, which I feel evolved over generations. It was a double-edged sword, or saw if you want a more thematically accurate metaphor. On one hand, clearing the trees made way for unprecedented economic and civic progress. On the other hand, once the curtain was pulled back, things would never be the same.
As I am more of an artist and less of an academic historian, please explore these links for citations and further reading:
Image Source: “Paul Durham, Sr. Hardwood Logging Crew,” The History Center.
“Aldridge Sawmill“, Texas Beyond History.com