On 26 May 2003, intense rainfall from a series of thunderstorms in eastern North Carolina caused flooding that eventually destroyed the concrete dam in Hope Mills, draining Hope Mills Lake, and revealing a formerly submerged and buried structure that was identified as a timber crib dam. Inspection revealed these logs to be old-growth longleaf pines, which are now rare on the coastal plain landscape. Our primary objective was to develop a new multi-century longleaf pine tree-ring chronology by crossdating the tree rings from sections extracted from logs in the crib dam with an anchored tree-ring chronology created from nearby living longleaf pine trees. We also examined the climatic response in the longleaf pine trees to evaluate their potential for reconstructing climate. Using tree-ring measurements obtained from old-growth longleaf pines found at a nearby church, we were able to date the rings on 21 series representing 14 logs from the crib dam, spanning the years 1597 to 1825. Distorted sapwood in many of the logs prevented us from finding absolute cutting dates and lessened the strength of correlation during the period of overlap between the church series and crib dam series. Human disturbances, specifically related to the naval stores industry, likely influenced the growth-ring patterns of the crib dam pine samples, as well. Correlation analyses between the longleaf pine chronology and temperature, precipitation, Palmer Drought Severity Indices, and North Atlantic sea surface temperatures showed a significant response to cool and wet spring months.
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