- When the Kretz family started the Kretz Lumber Company here in Antigo in 1929, they built part of the original saw mill with hemlock that grew near the property. Now, a piece of hemlock far older than that serves as a bit of the company's rich history.
On the south side of the property outside the so-called "Cabin" stands an eight-foot-tall hemlock log. A ginseng farmer in Bryant dug it up while plowing a field and thought it looked old.
UW-Madison carbon dated the log and discovered it's 1,200 to 1,600 years old. That's from about the time the Vikings started raiding Europe.
"A lot of people go back in their mind and they try to think back through history and what it would've been like," Kretz Lumber President Troy Brown said. "So that's kind of the fun part and it brings up conversations like that."
Scientists believe the log was preserved through a lack of oxygen in the soil. The Kretz folks think a tornado likely brought the tree down all those years ago, due to the way it's twisted.
Brown says Kretz made Christmas ornaments out of other sections of the tree a few years ago.