All of the ship's major timbers are oak, whose strength and resistance to rot make it the perfect wood for shipbuilding. Dendrochronology, the study of tree rings, can tell us the age of the tree when cut, possibly what season it was felled, what type of environment the tree grew in, and, when combined with other information, whether the timbers were reused. Loggers retrieved the Belle's oldest timbers almost two centuries before the ship was built. Given the importance of shipbuilding in the region and the slow growth of oaks, it is likely these aged timbers came from an older ship that was dismantled.

Frames Frames of oak, a tough and rot-resistant wood, supported the Belle's rounded hull. Notice the hand-carved marks towards the middle of each timber (see code marks for explanation).

Photo: courtesy of the Texas Historical Commission.