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Archive for October, 2008

Today marks the 150th birthday of Theodore Roosevelt.  Considered one of our greatest presidents, it’s not for nothing that he’s on Mount Rushmore and still widely admired around the world.  He packed a lot of living into his sixty years.  An avid outdoorsman and naturalist, you can add cowboy, cattle rancher, sheriff, big-game hunter, war hero, conservationist, author, explorer, reformer, and Progressive — to name a few — to his list of jobs and accomplishments.  He’s known as the “Rough Rider” or the “Trustbuster,” but don’t call him “Teddy” — he didn’t like the name.

We celebrate Roosevelt here at FHS because of his importance to many areas of forest and conservation history.  He first published as a naturalist while still in college; most of his publications in the field still hold up well.  He was a co-founder of the Boone and Crockett Club, which fought to protect big-game habitats beginning in the 1890s.  While governor of New York (1898-1900), he pushed for scientific forest management of the Adirondack Forest Preserve and “also stressed the need for more qualified game wardens and enforcement of game laws, the importance of controlling forest fires, and, true to his ornithological interests, protection of song birds in the state.”*  And as U.S. president (1901-09), he built a solid foundation for the conservation and preservation of natural resources, adding millions of acres to the National Forest System, and establishing or expanding numerous national parks and monuments.  He also created the wildlife refuge system.  In sum, Theodore Roosevelt’s significance in American conservation history cannot be overstated.

Sketch of Theodore Roosevelt, by Rudy Wendelin

This sketch by Rudy Wendelin is from the FHS U.S. Forest Service History collection.

Celebrations will take place today at six different national parks or national historic sites that bear Roosevelt’s name or likeness: his birthplace in Manhattan; his home on Long Island, Sagamore Hill; the site of his inauguration in Buffalo, N.Y.; Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the Badlands of North Dakota, where he had his cattle ranch; Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota; and Theodore Roosevelt Island in Washington, D.C.  The National Park Service will be commemorating his life and accomplishments throughout the coming year at these sites as well as at the parks and the eighteen national monuments he created.  Celebrations will also be held at units of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service, founded by Roosevelt in 1903 and 1905 respectively.width="134"

In the upcoming issue of Forest History Today, the Biographical Portrait column examines Roosevelt’s place in forest and conservation history.  You can also learn a bit about his thinking on conservation policies by reading another article on TR from a past issue of FHT featured in a previous posting.  (Yes, he’s THAT important!)


* Brown, David P. “The Conservationist: T. Roosevelt/Pataki Article.” http://www.trthegreatnewyorker.com/Naturalist/nc-c.htm

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Six brand new photo galleries featuring more than 160 historic photos documenting various aspects of river log drives were added to our website today.  River drives were a standard way of moving large amounts of cut timber to sawmills during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, prior to the expansion and adoption of railroads and trucks for log transport.  Images of the men known as “river pigs” who worked on these drives, laboring to keep the rivers clear and the logs moving down the middle of the channel, are found in the Drivers gallery.

Other galleries contain images of Log Driver Equipment, Logs in the River, Splash Dams, and Wanigans.  (Wanigans were the floating cookhouses and supply rafts that moved downriver with the log drivers, keeping them fed and supplied with any needed items.)  Also included is a gallery of Log Jam photos, showing one of the many hazards of working a log drive.  While attempting to break large jams in the river, drivers risked falling, being crushed by logs, and drowning.

A large portion of the photos in these new galleries are of the Potlatch Corp. log drives which took place on a 90-mile stretch of the Clearwater River in northern Idaho.  The Clearwater River drives began in the late 1920s and ran nearly every spring until the final run in 1971, the last large-scale whitewater log drive in the U.S.  For more detailed information on the famed Clearwater River log drive, including a map of the route, see “Clearwater River Log Drives: A Photo Essay” from the Fall 2000 issue of Forest History Today.

Visit the new Log Drivers, Driver Equipment, Logs in River, Splash Dams, Wanigans, and Log Jams photo galleries, and for other topics, check out our previously posted subject galleries here.

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On this day in 1964, foresters, government officials, and others gathered near Asheville, North Carolina, at the site of the historic Biltmore Forest School. At this joint annual meeting of the American Forestry Association and the North Carolina Forestry Association, officials laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Forest Service Visitor Information Center, dedicating the Cradle of Forestry in America.

The Cradle of Forestry was envisioned as a unique indoor-outdoor museum that would celebrate the significance of the Pisgah National Forest lands to the history of forestry in the United States.

  • Here, America’s first trained native-born forester, Gifford Pinchot, managed the thousands of forested acres owned by George W. Vanderbilt. Beginning in 1892, Pinchot initiated large-scale scientific forest management practices on the Biltmore and Pisgah lands.
  • Pinchot’s successor, Dr. Carl A. Schenck, opened the first forestry school in America. The Biltmore Forest School operated on the estate from 1898 to 1907.
  • Passed in 1911, the Weeks Law granted the federal government authority to purchase private lands for inclusion in national forests. Following the passage of the Weeks Law, several tracts of Vanderbilt’s land were among the first purchased by the U.S. Forest Service. Incorporating these tracts, a proclamation signed by Woodrow Wilson in 1916 officially established the Pisgah National Forest.

At the cornerstone-laying ceremony, Forest Service Chief Edward P. Cliff delivered remarks, which included a memorandum he drafted for a one-hundred year time capsule. Addressed to the Chief of the Forest Service in 2064, the memorandum provides interesting points to consider:

“I would like to glimpse the technological advances and the wealth of knowledge that you and your colleagues have at your fingertips. I know that it must surpass by far anything we can imagine here in 1964. Yet I am equally sure that you need all of these and more to solve what must be incredibly difficult and complex problems of forest management. . . .

“As a forester, my greatest hope is that in the decades which separate our careers, our people will have proved to be good stewards of our natural resources. It pleases me to think that each generation of foresters during this interval will have been able to build upon the work of their predecessors — just as your generation is benefiting from trees established, protected, and nurtured by us in the mid-Twentieth Century.”

The Forest History Society maintains materials related to this dedication ceremony, including newspaper clippings, event programs, brochures, and artifacts. Cleverly, the Cradle of Forestry planners printed maps and site information on litter bags given to visitors:

Perhaps the most “flavorful” part of the tour involves the description of the Student Quarters:

The materials featured above may be found in our U.S. Forest Service History Collection, under “Forestry Schools/Education: Cradle of Forestry.”

To support further research on the birth of American forestry, the Forest History Society holds several archival and image collections related to the Biltmore School, early foresters, the Forest Service, and lumber companies.  Such collections include:

Additionally, FHS has collaborated with N.C. State University, UNC Asheville, and the Biltmore Estate to present The Rise of American Forestry: From Education to Practice. I suspect Chief Cliff would be impressed by the “technological advances and the wealth of knowledge” at our fingertips.

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The American environmental movement has periodically experienced shifts in focus and organizational priorities following key elections. Notable transformative junctures include the 1970 and 1972 congressional elections; the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, which sent ripple effects throughout the environmental movement; and the 2000 election of George W. Bush, which arguably witnessed the most significant shift in environmental policymaking in more than three decades.

At the 2008 Lynn W. Day Distinguished Lectureship in Forest and Conservation History, Dr. Robert Gottlieb will explore the nature of these historical changes and what possible twists might be anticipated with the outcome of the 2008 presidential election between Barack Obama and John McCain.

Dr. Gottlieb is the Henry R. Luce Professor of Urban Environmental Studies and Director of the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. Among his achievements, Gottlieb has authored and co-authored eleven books, including Reinventing Los Angeles: Nature and Community in the Global City, The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City, Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement, and Environmentalism Unbound: Exploring New Pathways for Change.

This lecture is free and open to the public. We do hope you can join us for what promises to be a fascinating and timely event. For more information, please contact Dr. Steven Anderson, President, Forest History Society, 919-682-9319.

The Next Environmentalism: After the 2008 Election
Dr. Robert Gottlieb
November 11th at 4:30 p.m.
White Lecture Hall (113 Campus Dr.)
Duke University (East Campus)
Durham, NC

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A recent article in The New Yorker investigated where China gets its wood from now that logging has been widely banned in the country.  “The Stolen Forests: Inside the Covert War on Illegal Logging” states that the ban was instituted after the Yangtze River watershed flooded in 1999, killing more than three thousand people and causing more than thirty billion dollars in damage.  Some in the Communist Party blamed the clearcutting of forests, and the government soon thereafter banned logging in much of the country.  Reading this fascinating article brought to mind a short piece I wrote a few years ago in Forest History Today, “Theodore Roosevelt’s Cautionary Tale.”  One hundred years before the 1999 Yangtze flood, northern China experienced similar problems of clearcutting followed by the flooding of the Yellow River.  President Theodore Roosevelt discussed the crisis in his last State of the Union address one century ago this December.  He cited the deforestation in China as a warning to what the United States faced if it did not begin conserving its own forests and watersheds.  Drawing on natural history and science for his cautionary tale, he starkly made his case for conservation–“the great material question” facing the nation in 1908.  To me, why he talked about China is as interesting as what he had to say about China.  To paraphrase the Bard: Read on, MacDuff.

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Photographs from the Forest History Society collections have been used for a great variety of purposes, from scholarly publications to popular documentaries to home decor.

Perhaps we have the beginnings of a Men of Logging calendar?

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Two new online photo galleries have just been added to our website today.  The new “Loggers” gallery features more than 80 historic photos of loggers posing while at work in the field.

Photos in this gallery showcase the outdoor working environment as well as the individual personalities of many of the loggers:

The second new gallery features 115 historic photos of Logging Camps.  This gallery shows the appearance and layout of various logging camps throughout the country, as well as presenting snapshots of day-to-day camp life.

Visit the new Loggers and Logging Camp galleries, and as always, you can browse previously posted subject photo galleries here.

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