Sparing a piece of bowling history- Olympic Lanes

By Kevin Weyrauch

Pioneer Millworks reclaimed a piece of pro-bowling history, re-purposing old bowling lanes into new products, preventing them from ending up in landfills, grinders, or unclean wood burners.


Olympic Lanes was once the largest bowling complex in New York State offering 80 lanes and hosting international and televised PBA events featuring pros like Pete Weber. Rather than allow the lanes to go to waste when the center closed, Pioneer Millworks salvaged them, keeping the original finishes and re-purposing the old wood for commercial and residential projects.

The lobby at Olympic Lanes displayed a saying: “The secret to becoming a better bowler is knowing where to put your feet.” The original foul line markers and arrows that at one time helped bowlers ranging from toddlers to professionals hit the pins were carefully maintained during reclamation and re-use of the lanes in custom projects.

Olympic Lanes


Jered Slusser, wood expert at Pioneer Millworks, incorporated a few of the lanes into his kitchen as countertops, applying the final finish, a natural oil. “Talk about durable—2 1/4″ of solid hard Maple finished with a butcher block oil—the countertops will hold up for generations, and only get better with age,” he explains. “It is fun to share the history of the tops, especially once folks recognize the foul markers.”

Bowling lanes are fabricated one strip at a time, placed on edge to create a strong, durable surface. While they are often made of hard maple, the lower part of the lane, closer to the pins, was also commonly crafted of yellow pine. Pioneer Millworks has reclaimed over 200 yellow pine lanes at 10’ long and 50 maple lanes at 5’ long.

“This year we re-purposed the lanes into new tables for restaurants, in one case featuring the underside of the lanes which offered more character and color than the tops,” continues Slusser. “Not only are they a talking point, but they often evoke childhood memories of time spent with friends and family at the lanes. They are pieces of history and we’re excited to give them new life.”

On average Pioneer Millworks processes 1,062,000 board feet of reclaimed wood, including the bowling lanes, yearly. After 20+ years in business we have salvaged over 21,000,000 board feet that would otherwise end up in landfills, grinders, and unclean wood burners, or simply rot away. By reclaiming and reusing, Pioneer Millworks customers help save character filled antique wood and take another step towards preventing deforestation.