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“N” is for Naval Stores

South Carolina from A to Z logo

“N” is for Naval Stores. For centuries, the resinous products of pine trees—tar, pitch, rosin, and turpentine—were used to preserve and maintain wooden sailing vessels and cordage. As the world’s leading maritime power, Great Britain had a vital interest in naval stores and recognized the potential of their American colonies—especially the Carolinas. In 1705 Parliament authorized a large bounty for colonial naval stores. Production soared and South Carolina produced more than any other colony. The bounty was eliminated in 1725, but production continued. In the 1880s the state was producing nearly one-third of the South’s naval stores. Competition from petroleum products reduced the market demand and two centuries of exploitation had denuded the state’s great pine forests. By the early twentieth century, South Carolina’s naval stores industry had run its course.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.