Brushton, Franklin County
Cedar Oil Maker
One of the oldest woods-related industries in the region, cedar oil production has all but disappeared in recent decades. Made by cutting new growth white cedar twigs, piling them into vats attached to steam boilers, and distilling the aromatic essential oil, cedar oil was once an important seasonal source of cash for many small farmers and woodsmen. Floyd Snyder’s grandfather and father taught him how to make the oil when he was a teenager, and it has been a major occupation of his ever since. Now in his 60s and with his son’s help, he continues to cull young trees from his woodlots, trim the greenery for oil, and make cedar posts. With vintage equipment including two huge wood-fired boilers, they make several hundred pounds of oil each year. Due to foreign competition and new synthetic products, the market has diminished significantly in recent years, but Floyd is dedicated to keeping the process going as long as he can.