Deconstructing History: Under Camouflage for Much of WWII, Boeing Plant Yields Storied Timbers to Duluth Timber Company

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Duluth Timber Company is on site at Seattle's Boeing Plant 2 to salvage historic timbers. The plant was camouflaged during WWII to hide it from aerial attack, while inside round-the-clock shifts fabricated B-17 bombers. The reclaimed timbers of old-growth Douglas fir will carry history into new projects, both residential and commercial.

Mark Rickard, of Glacier, WA, trims reclaimed timbers at Boeing Plant 2

Mark Rickard, of Glacier, WA, trims reclaimed timbers at Boeing Plant 2

This wood epitomizes our company's good fortune in connecting historic specimens with new projects.

Duluth Timber Company has the honor of recovering timbers from Boeing Plant 2 in Seattle, which played a crucial role in World War II. The plant, located in Seattle, Washington, incubated, produced and let fly nearly 7,000 B-17 Flying Fortresses.

Duluth Timber Company won the bid for reclaiming wood out of Plant 2 and work started in January 2011. The old-growth Douglas fir beams come in lengths up to 25’. They come from floor joists that spanned the factory’s open spaces, which built-out at 1.7 million square feet.

One of the first modern assembly lines, Plant 2 operated three shifts, producing as many as 362 planes in a month. Secrecy was so crucial during the war that Boeing hired a Hollywood art director to help blend the facility into the surrounding neighborhood. A fake housing development, made of plywood, chicken-wire and netting, covered nearly 26 acres of the plant's roof. (View historic photos of Boeing Plant 2)

Deconstructing For the Wood

Duluth Timber owner Max Taubert estimates there was over four million board-feet of wood in Plant 2. “Unfortunately, only a fraction of that—250,000 board feet—will be reclaimed,” Taubert says. Most of the timbers are 8”x20”.

“It’s more dangerous and time-consuming to access the high timbers,” Taubert said, who has been in the used wood business since 1976. “Deconstruction costs more than demolition—in labor, insurance, and jobsite safety.”

Duluth Timber Company, which deals exclusively in reclaimed wood, is headquartered in Duluth, Minnesota, but has long had operations in Washington State. The company’s timber yard and mill in Edison, WA holds 500,000 board-feet, mostly of old-growth Douglas fir. This spring, Duluth Timber opened a micro-yard in Seattle on the shipping canal, 598 W. Nickerson Ave. Samples of Boeing Plant 2’s big wood are on view there, along with premium reclaimed redwood, cypress, and heart pine from deconstruction projects throughout America.


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Max Taubert, president
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