The casual observer might not notice that there are two distinct styles of wood used in woody bodies. One is the traditional blonde look, with the framing and the paneling made of very similar light-toned timbers. The other more recognized style came a little later with the use of light-tone framing with darker wood paneling.
The jury is out on the source of the timber, except that used by Ford, which cut and milled most of its wood from the forest Ford owned at Iron Mountain in northern Michigan. Other timber sources have not been clearly delineated, although the supposition is that manufacturers often used local hardwoods. So, you will find that the wood used in wagon bodies built by Cantrell will differ from bodies built by Campbell Mid-State, simply because of their geographic locations.
Over time, the darker wood paneling was either achieved by staining or was sourced from overseas. In the early forties, Ford wagons used panels milled from American-grown redgum, which came from the heart of the older liquidamber trees. Within ten years, mahogany from South or Central America, or the Philippines was preferred.
As always, there were exceptions to the rule. For example, during the thirties Moeller’s International wagons used oil Masonite for their darker panel tones.
Sourcing the woods revealed some interesting changes. Some timbers are not used as much today for commercial lumber, including elm and cottonwood. The Treasure Box elm was secured from a mill that specializes in recovered trees in Marshall, California. The cottonwood came from Cook Lumber in Reelsville, Indiana. Our mahogany came out of Honduras, and the maple from West Virginia.