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Crane Naval Base Trees Harvested To Restore ‘Old Ironsides’

The white oak trees at Naval Support Activity Crane are similar to the timber originally used to build the USS Constitution.

uss constitution

Photo: Loco Steve (Flickr)

The USS Constitution is most remembered for its role in the War of 1812.

Trees at Naval Support Activity Crane are being cut down to help restore an 18th century ship used in the War of 1812.

As reported earlier, the trees will be used to replace decaying wood on the sides or hull of the USS Constitution, world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat,  in Boston.

The USS Constitution received the nickname “Old Ironsides” while engaging British ships during the War of 1812.

Navy foresters and contractors from Naval Facilities Engineering Command Midwest’s Public Works Department Crane began harvesting mature white oak trees last week.

“For Crane being in Southern Indiana, it’s not close to the ocean, it’s not close to any major waterways really, but it’s really nice to have this tie to the fleet and to an important part of the Navy’s seagoing heritage,” says NSA Crane spokesman Bill Crouch.

The trees are similar to the timber used to build the ship more than 200 years ago.

The foresters have a limited window each year they can harvest timber because of the weather and because the forest is home to the endangered Indiana bat that roosts there from the spring to the fall.

Thirty-five trees that were cut down are being moved to a covered storage area on base. They will remain there until the people repairing the USS Constitution say they are needed. Additional trees could also be harvested if needed.

The process has been years in the making.

The Navy first started examining what repairs the ship needed in 1991. At that time, the group in charge of the restoration asked Crane officials if they could provide any timber.

Crane selected a number of trees they thought would be suitable and allowed those to grow untouched until this year.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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