Gurgle, Splash - Timber!

A century ago, the loggers who leveled the thick, old-growth forests surrounding the northern shores of Lake Superior had a little problem - many of the huge logs they produced sank to the lake's bottom before they could be milled. That hardly bothered the loggers and mill operators. There were always more trees to be felled.

But the old-growth forests of the upper Midwest finally gave out, and uncounted thousands of feet of prime lumber have lain idle and unused in the frigid, preserving depths of Lake Superior.

No more. Scott Mitchen, a Wisconsin native best known for his forays into Caribbean waters after sunken galleons, recognized that a treasure was waiting to be raised. He has brought up hundreds of logs so far, including many of red oak and other densely grained hardwood that furniture and instrument makers will pay a king's ransom for.

Mr. Mitchen is setting up shop in an old wharf building in Ashland, Wis., and has dreams - shared by the townspeople - of developing exhibits devoted to the history and lore of the region's early timber industry.

As an amalgam of entrepreneurship, environmental benignity, historical interest, and community revival, this project is hard to top.

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