Once the giants of the forest, Chestnut is now a rare material – in a 40 year period all mature trees were devastated due to an imported disease. Used appropriately in a building project, it can add the perfect touch of rustic warmth.
Within 40 years the nearly four-billion-strong American chestnut population in North America was devastated — only a few clumps of trees remained in California, Michigan, Wisconsin and the Pacific northwest. Because of the disease, American chestnut wood almost disappeared from the market for decades, although it can still be obtained as reclaimed lumber.
It is estimated that in some places, such as the Appalachian Mountains, one in every four hardwoods was an American chestnut. Mature trees often grew straight and branch-free for 50 feet and could grow up to 100 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 14 feet at a few feet above ground level. For three centuries many barns and homes near the Appalachian Mountains were made from American chestnut.