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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Shown is the conference table that was made out of the log for Vargo Tool & Die, Inc., Peshtigo. At the right is Mike Bergfelt, account manager for Vargo and Peshtigo Mayor Al Krizenesky admiring the table.

300 Year Old Log Makes Table, Desk

A 300 year old oak log found and pulled from the Peshtigo River in May of 2010 by Ben Kangas and his father, Charles, of Peshtigo, is now converted into a beautiful and artistic conference table and desk. They are now located in the new plant of Vargo Tool & Die Inc., in the City of Peshtigo at 921 N. Ogden Road. The firm is headed by Doug Vargo, president, and his wife, Jean Vargo, vice president.

Charles Kangas reported his 32-year old son, Ben, first spotted the log near the old Peshtigo railroad bridge of BPM, Inc. It took a lot of hard work for the pair to pull the log from the river, but they managed it.

For several years, they let the log dry out before cutting it into slabs to eventually make a worthwhile project. The opportunity arose when Doug Vargo, president of Vargo which recently located a plant in Peshtigo, asked if Ben could make a conference table and desk.

Ben eagerly accepted the challenge as woodworking and cabinet making goes a long way in the Kangas ancestry. The grandfather of Charles, also named Charles made cabinets. The father of Charles, Karl Kenneth Kangas also did cabinetry work and served in the military in Viet Nam.

Word of the beautiful piece of furniture soon spread as the Peshtigo Industrial Corporation board of directors began holding their meetings at the Vargo plant. Of course, the conference table was used for their meetings where ideas for improving the city’s industrial base were planned.

The log had been part of a log raft in which the early Peshtigo loggers were attempting to get to the lumber mills at the mouth of the Peshtigo river and harbor. The log remained at the bottom of the river for about 100 years meaning it was a sprout around the early 1600s.

Closeness of the annual rings indicates it was the first cutting in Wisconsin woods. Only old growth timbers have rings so tightly packed together. Distinctive markings in the surface of the lumber came from an aquatic insect slowly munching its way into the log, many, many years ago.

Tree ring dating, known as dendrochronoloy, is the scientific method of dating based on the analysis of patterns of tree ring, also known as growth rings. The science can date the time at which tree rings were formed to the exact calendar year.

In some areas of the world, it is possible to date wood back a few thousand years. Currently, the maximum for fully anchored chronologies is a little over 11,000 years from present.


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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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