There are two trees found everywhere below 4000 feet in the Park that visitors never fail to notice, the Douglas fir because of the gigantic straight boles and the Western Red Cedar because of the graceful branching and the large frond-like twigs.
The red or shingle cedar ranges from southern Alaska to northern California. It is very abundant in the lower valleys of the Park preferring moist bottom land. The scalelike foliage is conspicuous among the needle-shaped leaves of the hemlock and fir. The bark is fiberous, ranging from reddish to gray and the larger trunks are swelled and fluted at the base. The leaves are fragrant and the wood has a pleasing aromatic odor. Because of the thinness of the bark it is easily fire-killed. Although it seldom grows as tall as the Douglas fir it often becomes as large and trees five feet in diameter are not uncommon. It has been known to grow to be twelve feet in diameter and a thousand years of age.
The wood is reddish, brittle, but very durable. Because of the fact that it split straight and easily it was particularly valuable to the early settlers, who often built entire houses, splitting the beams, siding, flooring, finish material, shingles and all by hand from convienient cedar trees.
At present it is used chiefly for shingles because of its decay-resisting qualities. A few years ago near Sedro-Wooley, Washington, two trees growing astride a fallen cedar were cut for shingle bolts. They were over 600 years old. Then the tree on which the little seedlings had sprouted 600 years before was also cut into shingle bolts and found to be just as sound as the living tree. 90% of the shingles used in the United States are cut from the red cedar of the Puget Sound country.
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