top of page
  • Old Wood

WASHED AWAY : A FAMILY LEGACY SAVED FROM NEAR DESTRUCTION

A family legacy was nearly submerged in a single afternoon. When the Viveash Fire engulfed 2,400 acres of the Old family’s ranch and tree farm back in the year 2000, they came within inches of losing everything.

Nestled atop Elk Mountain in Northern New Mexico, Viveash Ranch had been an oasis of timber ripe for logging. But unusually strong winds and extremely dry conditions unleashed a torrent of destruction. To this day, images of their cherished woods reduced to ruins are burned into the memories of David Old, his wife, and their children, Shiloh and Mika.

As the steward of this treasured land, David Old knew that he needed to act quickly—there was no time to grieve. Thanks to David’s ingenious plan to turn burnt timber into elegant wood flooring, a new family enterprise rose from the depths of devastation.


Shiloh Old walking with a chainsaw on the Old Family Ranch after the Viveash Fire devastated the ranch.

DROWNED BY FLAMES

Our world burned to the ground that day. – Mika Old

The Old family remembers exactly where they were when their home went up in flames. As they watched the fire grow exponentially, the Olds knew their timber was not the only thing that might be lost. The inferno threatened their way of life, like a raging river breaching its banks, eroding their sense of security and engulfing their future.

The woods were so thick you couldn't see anything, David recalls. Just as I came around a corner, the fire blazed 100 feet in front of me. Burned my eyebrows off.

The unstoppable flame, which became the largest in North America since the 1920s, burned for over a month. David Old, standing amidst the smoldering ruins, gazed upon the landscape that was once teeming with life.

While his connection to the land was unshaken, 1,400 acres of timber—almost half the ranch—had been swept away by a wave of fire. As the extent of the catastrophe set in, David Old surveyed the ruins like a captain observing a shipwreck in the depths of the sea, acknowledging the raw power nature can unleash at any given moment.

My Bible verse for the whole thing is from the book of Job, David explains. ‘The Lord gives. The Lord has taken away.’ That's it. It comes and it goes.

But not everything was gone. Resting on a bed of ashes was a single ember of hope. Determined to make something from almost nothing, David Old took stock of what he still had: a healthy, loving family, and an endless trove of burnt wood to find a use for. Buoyed by his wife and children, David got to work.

The fires themselves are just brief periods of emergency, Shiloh says. At the end of the day, the fire's out, the smoke settles, and the floods stop. What you're left with is the family, and you just start working on it.


David Old portrait in black and white while leaning on a tractor on the Old Family Ranch

TURNING TIDES

Life has been one long pivot and one long adjustment and continues to be so. – David Old

The future looked grim, but David was no stranger to adversity. Within a month of losing his best friend in a tragic racing accident, his father died in a plane crash. David inherited the family ranch at only 22 years old.

From the very beginning, it was a make-it-or-lose-it situation. But David was determined to honor his father’s memory by preserving the land and sustaining the family business.

This place deserves to be wild, David says. It’s worth working for.

Knowing he preferred logging over livestock, David transformed the family ranch from the cattle business to wood production. He taught himself how to use a sawmill and built the business from the ground up, ultimately constructing one of the first flooring plants in the Southwest. David’s trial by fire provided valuable experience. He adapted swiftly after the blaze, setting up an enormous logging operation in its wake. Days turned into nights as David Old and a crew of loggers went to work chopping up the burnt timber. Pushing the limits of ingenuity, the Old family turned charred wood into beautiful wood flooring. The operation became their compass, guiding them to safer waters from a catastrophic storm. As Shiloh explains, The business was born out of environmental necessity. David’s resilience, now imprinted within his son and daughter, once again proved unbreakable.



Multiple generations of the Old family on their ranch.


CHARTING A NEW COURSE

What kind of legacy do I want to leave? I would like to leave things better than they were. – Mika Old

The family emerged from the tragedy stronger than ever with a renewed sense of purpose. To this day, nothing will stop them from protecting and preserving the land they hold dear. As Mika explains, The fires made it so deeply personal.

The family business became a vessel for the Old family to safeguard the legacy of their ranch, and they committed themselves to the preservation of untouched wilderness. To Mika, these treasured lands hold immense value, both in their intrinsic beauty and as the foundation of our nation.

A huge part of our drive stems from being able to protect small pieces of land like this, Mika says. Once these are gone, what's left? Big cities are well and good but that’s not the fabric of America.

Blending their values of craftsmanship and environmental responsibility, the Old family has prospered in a place where hope was scarce. They proved that a resilient spirit can breathe life into scorched land, creating something beautiful from the ashes.

This ranch is our heritage,” Shiloh says. “And I hope one day it's my legacy.

That legacy can never be destroyed.

Comentários


bottom of page