New Flathead Lake Reclaimed Wood Frames Showcase Hand-Drawn Maps, Make Great Gifts

If our new frames could talk, they would have a century of stories to tell! The frames of our special Montana series of maps are hand-crafted from Flathead Lake larch that has been buried in the depths of the lake for more than 100 years. Reclaimed recently, the logs have been individually hand-hewn into gorgeous art frames that look stunning with our hand-drawn Montana, Flathead Lake, and Glacier National Park maps. Purchase your reclaimed wood framed map here.

There is a rich history behind the sunken logs reclaimed from the bottom of Flathead Lake, and it dates back to the late-1800s when the logging industry was booming in northwestern Montana.

Trees cut in northwest Montana’s forests were floated down the Flathead River and then processed by lumber mills set up along Flathead Lake. Over the years, thousands of the old growth larch and pine logs – used primarily by the Great Northern Railroad – sank to the bottom of the lake. Several years ago, a team of divers began to recover the historic logs from Flathead Lake.

The recovered logs proved to be truly unique. Preserved from exposure to oxygen, the wood had turned chocolate brown, green, violet, peach, charcoal, and blue. When foresters counted the rings on one big larch that was cut in the 1900s, it dated back to 1535.

When Greg Robitaille, co-founder and president of Xplorer Maps, heard about this recovery effort, he realized there was a great opportunity for his company. He then embarked upon what he calls a “dream project” and purchased 500-board feet from Hunt’s Timbers in St. Ignatius, Montana.

“Ever since I heard about this amazing reclamation endeavor in Flathead Lake, I have contemplated how interesting it would be to match up these sunken treasures with the original hand-drawn illustrations from Xplorer Maps,” Robitaille said.

Xplorer Maps is now working with Missoula businesses Burnish Frame and Molding and Frame of Mind to plane, mill, sand, and stain the timber and build the frames.

“I am super proud and excited to bring the history of Flathead Lake back to life with these gorgeous, historic lake larch frames that complement our maps so exquisitely,” Robitaille said. “We hope that for anyone who holds a special place for Flathead Lake and western Montana, that they feel the same connection to place we have as we create these timeless memories.”

Each framed print purchased comes with a certificate of authenticity guaranteeing the frame has been milled from this historic reclamation project.

View the video on the Flathead Lake reclamation effort here.

Shop these frames/maps online.