Cat Face

Snakeman

Senior Member
Thread starter #1
Cat face (as applied to the pine forest/turpentine industry) is a descriptive term given to the marks left on a pine tree that was "scored" in order to extract the pine sap (pitch or tar) from the tree. This scoring was done with a tool called a "hack". Scoring the tree caused the tree sap to ooze from the wound, and drip downward, and was collected in a tar cup.

Here are some pictures of a "cat face" that I retrieved from a South Georgia turpentine farm. The rest of the tree had long since rotted away, leaving only the cat face, which is in fact "lightard".

The Snakeman
 

Attachments

Snakeman

Senior Member
Thread starter #2
Here's a closer view, showing the tin that directed the sap toward the tar cup, and the nail that held the tar cup in place.

The Snakeman
 

Attachments

#4
I've seen those in the woods before but never thought of bringing one out with me...it actually makes for an intresting piece of history, I'll have to claim one and make a display out of it. Thanks for the info!
 
#5
Seen a few of those on our lease.. never had a clue what they were.. pretty cool.. thanks for the knowledge
 

Nicodemus

FREELANCE ADMINISTRATOR
#6
Nice pics and very informative Kenn. Those were an everyday sight when I was a youngun.
 
#7
Speaking of Cat Faces

Thought some might be interested of of a scanned pic of an old insert that fed into a scope that rendered the pic in third dimension (obviously I have forgotten what the viewing device was called).

The pic is of a Naval Stores ("turpentining") operation taken in coastal North Carolina around the turn of the century.

The scenes show a woods crew working a Longleaf Pine stand to produce gum resin which at that time was used to caulk wooden sailing ships.

One pic shows what it was like to chip a fresh streak on the working face of the tree. Another show a worker dipping the gum out of a box at the base of the tree. The box is a cavity chopped into the base of the tree with a mortising axe.

Another pic shows the "dip wagon" pulled by a team of oxen. The worker is rolling a barrel of gum up the incline plane into the wagon. A barrel of gum weighed over 400 pounds.

At that point in time there was no hardware installed on the face. The gum was all channelled into the cavity at the base of the tree (called a box).

North Carolina was the birth place for the Naval Stores Industry. When they depleted the available timber in NC, the operators moved their entire operation, workers and all further south where timber was plentiful
 

Attachments

CAL

Senior Member
#9
Good post Mr.Vernon.I have a stump in the flower bed in the back yard with all you explained on it.Thought it was pretty neat at the time.Took pictures after Snakeman posted to show but they were not good.
 
#10
Now that I know what a cat-face is... I know where there is some. We've got a few around here...
 
#11
Snakeman said:
Cat face (as applied to the pine forest/turpentine industry) Scoring the tree caused the tree sap to ooze from the wound, and drip downward, and was collected in a tar cup.
is that as opposed to dripping upward ?
 

GeauxLSU

Senior Member
#12
That's some good history right there. Thanks all.
I'm assuming based on the photos it killed the trees.
Vernon Holt said:
Thought some might be interested of of a scanned pic of an old insert that fed into a scope that rendered the pic in third dimension (obviously I have forgotten what the viewing device was called).
Mr. Vernon,
A stereoscope?

If so, I had one at one time with a small collection of old photos. I unfortunately and sure it's bee lost over time as well as my folks old 78rpm records. :(
 

Snakeman

Senior Member
Thread starter #13
No Geaux, it did not kill the trees. It's absolutely amazing to me that skinning the trees (sometimes as much as 3/4 of the circumference) did not adversly affect their growth. If you nick the bark of a tree in your yard, it will either die, have stunted growth, or be permanently disfigured.

Before they clear cut the property that surrounds my father-in-laws farm, there were pine trees there that had been turpentined in the '40's and 50's that we know of, and they were very much alive. Some of them were so big that I couldn't reach around the tree at chest height.

Thanks for posting the pictures Mr. Vernon. Do you have some of the "tools of the trade" that you could photograph and post here? I'm sure they would greatly improve the knowledge level of us all. I don't have any tools here, but the next time I visit down home, I'll take some pictures.

The Snakeman
 

Nicodemus

FREELANCE ADMINISTRATOR
#15
I wish I knew what happened to all my Great Grandfathers turpintinin` tools. I remember them bein` in the barn until several years ago. :(
 
#17
Nic,
I laid siege to some of my great-grandfather's old hooks/hacks and various other tools of the trade. Some of the last things remaining of his. If I can find the digital camera, I'll post tomorrow.
DC
 

FERAL ONE

Shutter Mushin' Mod
#18
if you ever get by st andrews sp in panama city there is a refurbished turpentine still in the park with explanations of what each part was. they had to be some baaaad fellas to wheel the stuff up and down those planks. we spent the night at laura s walker sp on the way back from the okefenokee and i saw the cat faced trees on the side of the road as well as an old turpentine still on the side of the highway coming home.
 
#19
Some 100 years ago every community in the "turpentine belt" had its own post office, commissary (company store), blacksmith shop, Turpentine Still, and quarters for woods workers. I was told that it wasn't unusual for owners to clean up the still and on special holidays would run off a batch of something other than pine gum (holiday spirits).
 

Snakeman

Senior Member
Thread starter #20
Dad used to tell me of being the "tallyman" as a young boy.

Dad would drive the mule and wagon, loaded with the tar barrels, out into the turpentine woods. The workers would walk out into the woods with their dippers and buckets. Each time the worker would "dip" a tree, they would yell out their (the worker's) assigned number. Dad would then put a tally mark by that worker's number, and at the end of the day or week, the workers would be paid according to how many trees they dipped.

My first question was about dishonesty. What if a worker just walked out, and started calling out his number, and didn't dip as many trees as he said he did. Dad's answer was surprising.......dishonesty was never a problem.

Wish things were like that now.

The Snakeman
 
Top