DeadHead Lumber Co. founder and owner Todd Morrissette started his business a little over one year ago, with the goal of doing something that would be a benefit to the environment.

“The whole reason I got into this business was because of the environmental/green factor,” says Morrissette. “It is definitely the driving force behind this business.  It’s also the main reason people buy this type of wood.”

DeadHead retrieves logs that sank during river drives dating back to the late 1600s/early 1700s in Maine. Morrissette says that Maine was one of the first areas to be commercially logged in the United States, and that York, ME, was the site of one of the nation’s first sawmills in the 1620s.

Morrissette custom designed and built the Aqua-Logger to locate and retrieve the logs. “Other people who have tried this business in the past have used divers,” he says. “Because of safety issues, you would need four to five people on the salvage using divers, but with the Aqua–Logger, it is a one-man, fully-mechanized operation.”

The logs are located using Side Scan Sonar. Morrissette has two units on the boat that give him an almost black-and-white picture of the bottom of the lake. By connecting the Side Scan Sonar to a GPS unit, he can electronically tag each log that he sees and come back and pick it up at a later date.

The boat also has two 5,000-pound winches equipped with grapple hooks and underwater cameras. The unit is lowered into the water and guided over the logs using the underwater cameras, then pulled to the surface straight up. “There is no dragging of logs across the bottom and very little silt disturbance,” Morrissette adds.

After pulling the logs from the water, the company saws them into rough lumber or veneer. “My main market for the lumber right now is hardwood flooring companies,” Morrissette says. “Next is furniture, millwork and custom cabinetry.”

Morrissette stresses that although environmentally sound, the sunken logs are also a finite resource and should be treated as such. “Most states, including Maine, have limits on how many board feet you can salvage per year,” he says. “This keeps it from becoming ‘big business’ and decimating the resource in a relatively short period of time. This will never be anything that you can find in a big box store or lumber yard, but is, and should be, a specialty product.”

DeadHead Lumber Co. designed and built the Aqua-Logger to locate and
retrieve sunken logs. Using the Aqua-Logger allows the process to be a
one-man operation.

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