Archive for February, 2013

We’ve asked Leila Pinchot, a Research Fellow at the Pinchot Institute for Conservation (PIC) and a descendant of Gifford Pinchot, to share her thoughts as the premiere date of a new film about Gifford Pinchot approaches. 

Starting in March, keep your eyes peeled for Seeking the Greatest Good: The Conservation Legacy of Gifford Pinchot on your local PBS affiliate (check your local listings here). Seeking the Greatest Good is a documentary produced by the public television station WVIA that links Gifford Pinchot’s conservation philosophy with the Pinchot Institute for Conservation’s (PIC) efforts to address contemporary environmental issues.


I was involved with the film early in its development, as a Pinchot family member, and later became involved with the project as a PIC staff member. As a new member of the PIC staff, the film introduced me to my colleagues’ efforts to preserve water quality in the Delaware River by investing in forest management in the river’s headwaters; their innovative project to link sustainable family forests and affordable healthcare; and community-building through sustainable forestry in Ecuador. In the hour it took me to watch the film, I was able to really grasp how PIC is building on Gifford Pinchot’s conservation philosophy of “the greatest good for the greatest number in the long run” to develop innovative on-the-ground conservation programs. And I learned a thing or two about my great–grandfather during the biography portion that opens the film.

I’m very happy to be able to share that experience with middle school and high school students by developing a Seeking the Greatest Good curriculum guide with WVIA. The guide shows teachers how to use the documentary as part of interactive lesson plans to teach their students about conservation, its history, and current applications. To purchase the DVD or to learn more about the curriculum guide visit: http://www.seekinggreatestgood.org/. To read more about Grey Towersits residents, and the Pinchot Institute, please visit the FHS website. You can view the film trailer below.

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That’s not Kate Upton on the cover. And that’s not Sports Illustrated. And that’s not even in color.

Hot off the presses in 1947, it's the swimsuit issue!

That’s Miss Sally Johnson. And it’s the new swimsuit issue of Forest Echoes—well, “new” on the forest history temporal scale. It’s from 1947. And to be honest, it’s not really their swimsuit issue. So what’s going on here?

Forest Echoes was the monthly magazine published by the Crossett Lumber Company of Crossett, Arkansas, from 1939 until the company merged with the Georgia-Pacific Company in 1962. The company incorporated in 1899 and built the town of Crossett, which was incorporated four years later. The history of the company and the town are intertwined. Both are also closely linked to the Crossett Experimental Forest, which has a long relationship with the Yale Forestry School, often the source of some of the magazine’s humor (see cartoon below). We’ll have an article on the history of the experimental forest in the next issue of Forest History Today.

But back to Forest Echoes. What began as a mimeographed safety bulletin distributed by the company’s personnel division to some 1,500 workers in September 1939 quickly evolved into a slick little monthly magazine that contained personnel news, safety information, announcements of new technology and equipment, school events, and local events and programs like the Miss Crossett beauty contest, which Sally Johnson won in 1947.

From the July 1947 issue of Forest Echoes.

From the July 1947 issue of Forest Echoes.

Sometimes they printed general education information on income taxes and social security, or on more mundane things like personal hygiene. This same issue included an article on the necessity of taking care of your feet and wearing good shoes because “a little advance foot care may save you many hours of pain and lost income.” Short works of fiction were also published. They had to be short: the magazine was 6″x9″ and on average just 16 pages per issue. The magazine also provided news about the African-American employees events in their community. Overall, Forest Echoes provides an excellent resource on the town’s history.

The magazine is interesting from a historical perspective as much for what it says as for what it doesn’t say. Forest Echoes reflected what was going on in the national culture at the time in some ways, such as the beauty contests and community picnics and baseball games, while being selective about the news from the outside world. It was strictly about life in Crossett and Crossett’s view of the world, or at least that of the editors. During World War II residents were kept apprised of what the local boys were doing to win the war, and after the war an occasional article would appear on Crossett men who were in the National Guard. But the fight to desegregate schools in Little Rock in the 1950s is never mentioned and the magazine ceased operating long before the town schools integrated in 1968. It would have been fascinating to see how and if the magazine reported on the talks between the white and black communities about integration and the subsequent end of segregation.

Another way the magazine sheds light on this era is through the humor published within. From the very first issue, lots of jokes were included. Initially they were scattered throughout the newsletter but eventually they were consolidated into a column called “Wind in the Pines.” The jokes are on par with what you’d have seen in Reader’s Digest then and even now—jokes about the work place, everyday life, and relations between the sexes. Often they depict a hobo or a working stiff putting one over on or giving comeuppance to the rich and powerful. Not long after the magazine started, a cartoon character named Abel Woodman appeared on the inside back cover. He typically gave a message about forest conservation or job safety but sometimes it was just straight humor. You can look forward to a “Forgotten Characters” post about Abel sometime soon. For now, here’s a taste.


The presence of Yale Forestry School students every summer in Crossett gave the artist of Abel Woodman plenty of fodder over the years.

At the outset I joked that the issue shown here was new. Well, it is new to us. It is through the generosity of David Anderson at the Crossett Public Library that we just received that issue. In fact, he sent us more than a hundred issues of Forest Echoes, which will go a long way towards filling out our collection of Forest Echoes in the library. Along with those, he sent copies of two histories of the town. So for researchers interested in Crossett Lumber and the town of Crossett who can’t get to Arkansas, come on down. As Sally Johnson might say, the water’s fine.

Miss Crossett winners from 1954

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Today is National Pancake Day at the International House of Pancakes. You can get a free short stack of pancakes, though IHOP customers are encouraged to make a donation that will go to a local charity. (This date should not be confused with International Pancake Day, which is when a foot race between the women of Liberal, Kansas, and Olney, England, takes place that starts and ends with participants flipping a pancake in their pans. Seriously.)

IHOP’s short stack wouldn’t begin to fill a lumberjack of yore, though; it might only whet their appetite. What do I mean? According to author Joni Sensel in Timber/West (Nov. 2000), “Camp records indicate that on average, a logger in the Northwest around the turn of the [20th] century might start the day before dawn with flapjacks, eggs, bacon, fired pork, hash, spuds, oatmeal, prunes, fruit, doughnuts, biscuits, or all of the above.” And “all of the above” better be above average or the cook would hear about it: “Loggers never put up long with this sort of thing,” Joseph R. Conlin tells us in his excellent article, “Old Boy, Did You Get Enough of Pie?” “If they did not walk off, they put the unsuccessful cook on notice that it was time for him to leave by nailing some of his hotcakes to his door.” So important was feeding the men quality food that the cook was often the highest-paid employee in a logging camp. He was “Godamighty,” wrote Stewart Holbrook in Holy Old Mackinaw, his classic history of the American lumberman in the 19th century.

Loggers consumed on average about 9,000 calories a day—3 to 4 times what most of us require (by comparison, endurance athletes such as distance runners and cyclists might take in up to 8,000 calories per day). And the lumberjacks needed every calorie they could get. Given the 12-14 hour days, exhausting nature of the work, and brutal weather conditions in which they worked during the winter months, breakfast was, to coin a phrase, the most important meal of the day.

1917 Logging Camp Menu

Each day a man typically consumed “a half a loaf of bread, a pound of potatoes, a pound of other vegetables and fruit, plus cold cuts, salads, baked beans, stew, or soup,” plus dessert, Sensel cataloged. Meals were consumed in 8 minutes, with speed aided by the “no talking” rule and the need to take in all a man could—slow eaters would later be hungry. Keeping a camp of a hundred men supplied required bringing in vast quantities of food. Syrup for pancakes, for example, was delivered in barrels. The fare varied by season and region, and by era. Before refrigeration, fresh meat was rarely seen in the summer or was cured or dried, like ham or bacon. A more permanent camp might raise pigs for fresh meat. In the 19th century, fruits and vegetables were largely in dried form; by the end of that century, they were shipped in tins and cans; and then by the Great Depression, the camps regularly received fresh fruits and vegetables.

Holbrook says that for 19th-century loggers in New England and then the Great Lakes, “The fare was pretty much salt pork, beans, bread and molasses, and tea, black tea strong enough to float an ax on.” Contrast that with Sensel’s and Conlin’s descriptions of food and how much more variety there was. By the time the “lumberman’s frontier” had moved to the Pacific Northwest, loggers were eating better than most Americans. This was due in part because the large, integrated logging companies there “had the resources necessary to maintain their own ranches and farms,” according to Conlin. Coffee had replaced tea as the preferred caffeine source of choice, sometimes served in a soup bowl. Notes Sensel, “One logger might account for almost a pound of ground coffee a week.” I doubt that they were ordering their coffee with a twist of lemon.

In honor of National Pancake Day, we’d like to share some pancake-themed photos from our archive. The Paul Bunyan images are from the Mead Sales Company Paul Bunyan Campaign Collection and the William B. Laughead Papers. And with that, we’re off to get our free pancakes!

Pancakes on the griddle.

Pancakes are part of an Idaho logging camp breakfast (FHS5106).

Logger's breakfast.

The legendary lumberjack Paul Searls puts away a logger’s-size stack of hotcakes (FHS5083).

4-H logger's breakfast.

A “Logger’s Breakfast” for the national 4-H Forestry winners at the 1960 National 4-H Club Congress (FHS1875).

Logger's breakfast for Boy Scouts.

A “Logger’s Breakfast” hosted by AFPI for Boy Scouts who won national conservation awards, 1962 (FHS567).

Paul Bunyan pancakes.

Paul Bunyan strapped slabs of bacon on his feet to grease the cookhouse griddle.

Paul Bunyan's cook Big Joe.

Postcard of Big Joe, Paul Bunyan’s pancake cook (Laughead Collection).

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