Hemlock bark was used for tanning. Tanning is the process that transforms raw animal hides into leather. Tanneries in the Adirondack region processed cattle hides into leather for the soles and uppers of shoes and boots. The raw hides were shipped from the western United States and from South and Central America. Tanneries were located on the outer edges of the present-day Adirondack Park - close to abundant sources of hemlock bark. In the decades between 1860 to 1880 there were more than 150 tanneries of various sizes in operation.
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